| Accelerator

Accelerator Program 2019 Kicks Off with Ten Inspiring Startups!

We are happy to introduce the most international group of startups in the history of the Accelerator! Ten startups are partnering up with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, in 2019 to work on innovations in healthcare, life science, performance materials and other exciting areas such as bio-sensing and interfaces or liquid biopsy. Selected from 565 applications based in 68 countries around the world, the lucky ten have just moved into the company’s Innovation Center kicking off the seventh intake of the Accelerator program. Over the next three months, each startup will receive individual support and coaching from experts within the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, network as well as up to €50,000 in funding and the opportunity to join the China Innovation Hub in Shanghai for an extension of the program.

Settling into the Innovation Center, the ten startups are getting ready to partner up with us to disrupt the industry and create solutions aimed at having a positive impact on people’s lives. Building sustainable partnerships and shaping the future together is one of the main goals of the Accelerator program in 2019. Michael Gamber, Head of the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Innovation Center, has expressed the potential he sees in focusing on collaborating so closely with the startups this year: "We connect with external ideas while helping startups to take off. Bringing curious and expert minds together is a tremendous opportunity to create innovations that go beyond our current scope.”

From 22 shortlisted startups attending the Selection Days in November 2018 this year, our existing diverse group of ten won us over with their visionary ideas and collaboration potential. During the Selection Days, the teams were able to exchange ideas with over 50 experts from all over the world to find the perfect solution for a future collaboration at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. This two-day Boot Camp event gave all shortlisted startups the opportunity to work together with experts from Pioneers Discover and make a three-minute pitch of their ideas to gather feedback from the jury. Next, to working hard, all teams took part in fun team-building activities. Thanks to their great innovative ideas, startups like Nextbiotics, specializing in antibiotic-resistant bacteria or Ourotech - whose team is working on proprietary hydrogel for cancer treatments - were able to stand out.

The high application rate for the Accelerator Program 2019 is particularly pleasing this year. With 565 applications, the last application period exceeded all previous intakes of the program. We are delighted to see the extent to which this format is being recognized among industry experts around the world. This high level of acknowledgement is undoubtedly related to the high quality of the startups that have applied to and excelled in the Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, Accelerator so far. Continue reading to meet the teams and learn more about them in detail!

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Startup Ourotech


The Canadian startup company analyzes patients’ tumor samples to identify their level of drug resistance and determine the best type of cancer treatment. Ourotech uses a proprietary hydrogel that can grow tumors outside the human body and replicate drug resistance in the human body. This way, patients receive the right treatment sooner. The team's first hydrogel, Genesis, can be used for identifying drug resistance on tumors with breast, colon, and brain (GBM) cancers.


Based in Germany, Nanosor has developed tailor-made multi-parameter biosensors that speed up research. The startup delivers a customizable sensor platform that is capable of multi-parameter diagnosis on objects ranging from ions to proteins and DNA. The sensor data can be read electronically in real-time through a compact device. Using economic production processes, Nanosor enables affordable biosensors for on-site monitoring of the environment and point-of-care diagnostic devices, producing life-changing results.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Startup Nanosor
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Startup Hafnium Labs

Hafnium Labs

With its headquarters in Copenhagen, Denmark, Hafnium Labs helps pharmaceutical, biotech, and chemicals companies speed up the discovery of new drugs, materials and processes. While lab experiments can take months, their simulation software provides the world's most accurate property predictions in chemical research within minutes. Its predictions are ~10-100x more accurate than existing methods and represent the first method to provide prediction-specific uncertainty – a crucial element for researchers and engineers to trust predictions. The software is also much cheaper and faster than standard lab tests.


Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, MEVIA develops intelligent solutions for pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and consumers to monitor medication adherence. The team’s goal is to empower users to take the right dose at the right time to ensure that treatments are successful. Their products include the Mevia Pro, a reusable pill dispenser with a conducting circuit that breaks when a pill is opened; Mevia Go, a cellular device that attaches to each package and sends data in real-time to the Mevia platform; and Mevia Enterprise, which provides real-time analytics and exports data.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Starup Mevia
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Startup Next Big Innovation Labs

Next Big Innovation Labs

This startup, based in Bangalore, India, focuses on both facets of the technology - the engineering and the biotechnology. 
Next Big Innovation Labs has developed a global 3D Bioprinting platform that enhances the applications of this technology across industries. Using the platform, NBIL is working towards developing 3D Bioprinted Skin (InnoSkin®). The team has expertise in 3D printing, biotechnology, and pharmaceuticals and aims to develop cutting edge products that enhance and empower research and product development.


The Swiss startup Dicronis is developing innovative diagnostic products for diseases with high unmet medical needs. The first product in their pipeline, Lymphit, allows for the tracking of the lymphatic function in an easy-to-use, painless, home-based, and highly-scalable manner. Using microneedle patches, Dicronis delivers a fluorescent agent to the patient’s skin and measures its uptake through the lymphatics via a wearable detector. In this way, the best therapy strategy for the patient is identified. First of all the team plans to address the early diagnosis and efficient monitoring of lymphedema, a chronic and progressive complication of some cancer therapies.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Startup Dicronis
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Startup Levels Diagnostics

Levels Diagnostics

The Dutch startup Levels Diagnostics is developing a rapid diagnostic tool that allows general practitioners to rapidly assess the nature of an infectious disease according to whether it is bacterial or viral, allowing antibiotics to be prescribed only when necessary. The tool requires just one drop of blood and a few minutes of waiting time - it does not run on electricity and can therefore be used anywhere in the world. In this way they do not only add value to the caregiver and the patient, but also to society as a whole by reducing the misuse of antibiotics worldwide.


The startup Nextbiotics with its headquarters in San Francisco, United States, is developing a biotechnology platform that engineers bacteriophages to target antibiotic resistant bacteria. By combining bioinformatic tools with synthetic biology techniques, the team is able to identify the best bacteriophages within a library, thus enhancing their efficacy and stability. Nextbiotics envisions using its technology to precisely modulate the microbiome with applications in prevention and treatment of infections for humans and animals.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Starup Nextbiotics
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany Accelerator Startup iXensor


Based in Taipei, Taiwan, iXensor empowers data-driven healthcare by leveraging smart mobile devices, optical technologies, and advanced algorithms. The startup’s solution enables instant clinical tests for people with diabetes (HbA1c, glucose), cardiovascular diseases (lipid panel), and those trying to conceive (luteinizing hormone). The waiting time for test results is significantly reduced from three days to as little as three minutes, enabling on-the-spot advice for effective behavioral changes. In addition to making health check-ups more accessible in decentralized settings (e.g. clinics, pharmacies, private homes), it also allows the data to be synchronized to the cloud in real-time, making analytics and interventions easy and timely.

MicroX Labs
(Pratimesh Labs) 

Headquartered in Bangalore, India, MicroX Labs has developed a home-testing solution for patients undergoing chemotherapy or immunotherapy to monitor their cell counts, thus saving them frequent visits to the clinic. The startup’s technology measures cell counts from a finger prick using automated sample preparation on disposable cartridges combined with label-free analysis and proprietary sensors. Apart from the oncology market, the platform technology can be customized for a range of other applications, such as in cases of rare cell counts, screening solution for dengue fever and other tropical diseases, and to monitor cell counts in body fluids.