Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced the launch of the Merck Digital Sciences Studio (MDSS) to enable the generation of innovative technologies for drug discovery and development. MDSS will support early-stage biomedical startups with direct investment, access to powerful Azure Cloud computing and opportunities to pilot their technologies in collaboration with discovery and clinical scientists at Merck. Starting today, Merck welcomes applications for 12 spots for the first MDSS cohort. Startups developing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications will be prioritized.
“The biopharmaceutical industry has only just started to harness the tremendous opportunity presented by emerging technological developments in AI, and ML,” said Fiona Marshall, senior vice president, Discovery, Preclinical and Translational Medicine at Merck Research Laboratories. “The MDSS will provide a collaborative and entrepreneurial setting where scientists have access to the tools and expertise to fuel important innovations that advance drug discovery and development.”
The MDSS is a collaboration between Merck and the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), a New Jersey Institute of Technology corporation, with investments from the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Northpond Ventures and McKesson Ventures. Technology support will be provided by Microsoft for Startups. The MDSS will have locations in Newark, NJ and Cambridge, MA.
“Startups in the biopharmaceutical industry fuel innovation, create high-quality jobs and generate great opportunities for a stronger, more diverse and inclusive life-sciences ecosystem,” said Simon Nynens, CEO of NJII. “NJII looks forward to providing the programming, coaching, and connections to bring these ideas to life.”
Innovative digital sciences can transform approach to discovery
Digital technologies are already enabling innovation in biomarker and drug discovery and development in the areas of target identification, lead discovery, pre-clinical development, and clinical development. Through MDSS, the collaborators will selectively accelerate and pilot novel and innovative digital technologies that are strategically aligned with Merck’s life science research.
“As digital transformation continues to redefine what’s possible in healthcare, startups are at the forefront of delivering new approaches and technologies to the industry,” said Sally Frank, Global Lead, Health and Life Sciences, Microsoft for Startups. “Merck Digital Sciences Studio provides an onramp for startup founders to quickly bring their ideas to market with the strength of a global healthcare leader like Merck behind them. Through Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub startups in the MDSS will gain access to powerful technologies including Microsoft 365 and Azure as well as expert business advice and technical support.”
Currently the program plans to include six startups at each of the Newark, NJ and Cambridge, MA venues. Entrepreneurs interested in applying, please visit the MDSS website.
McDermott Will & Emery provided counsel and FLG Partners provided CFO services in the creation of MDSS.
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