Are you a student, an entrepreneur or a start-up? Do you want to work at the cutting edge of innovation, solve real life problems and learn from experienced mentors in the fields of healthcare, life science and performance materials? Then you came to the right place!

The Merck X-Innovation Challenge offers a variety of formats to grow, share, train, test and present your skillset. You can start the journey in one of our Hackathon programs, join our Virtual Challenge or even start right away taking your startup to the next level in the global Accelerator. Innovation does not happen linearly, so neither does our approach to help ideas grow.

What you can be sure of, is that you are independent to do the whole journey or select the program you wish: each of these will push your ideas to a new level.

Current opportunities

Hackathons – Worldwide

New challenges await you. Brush up your creative ideas and be prepared for brand new, ultimate challenges in different parts of the world.

Virtual Challenge

coming soon
After our first Virtual Challenge for Africa the next is already in preparation. Be then with us to help solving global problems in the fields of Life Science, Healthcare and Performance Materials.

Accelerator – Darmstadt

6th intake: March – June, 2018
The next application round for the 7th intake of the Merck Accelerator in 2019 starts in fall 2018. If you want your own big bang moment, stay informed!

The Challenges


part of the X-Innovation Challenge
Location: Worldwide

Take part in one of our 24h events near you and create the future with us. Merck proposes real challenges from within the Merck business sectors. You will team up with fellow students and young professionals to come up with solutions during this limited time frame. Merck experts are on hand throughout to help and advice. Brainstorm, experiment, discuss – then invent the next big thing and present your solutions to the judges. The winning teams get valuable prizes and are also invited to the yearly X-Innovation Summit!

Virtual Challenge

part of the X-Innovation Challenge
Location: your computer

The Virtual Challenge differs from the Hackathons not only through their virtual implementation, but also through the time frame of up to 6 months. As a participant in a Virtual Challenge, you have the opportunity to engage with student innovators from African universities and professionals and to tackle real-world challenges Merck is currently facing. By joining this challenge, you will benefit from the expertise Merck has developed across generations, while bringing your own innovative ideas to fruition.

The finalists of the Virtual Challenge will receive support online from the Accelerator’s facilitators to develop their ideas and are also qualified for the X-Innovation Summit in Dubai. Further the winner gets ongoing support in our Virtual Incubation format: Virtual Incubation gives you room to develop your ideas even further. You will get online training from the Merck Accelerator team, which has years of experience in supporting startups from early stage to success. Depending on your location, you will also get a paid work place for six months in an incubator.

X-Innovation Summit

part of the X-Innovation Challenge
Location: Dubai

At the X-Innovation Summit in Dubai, hosted by the Merck Innovation Center, everything focuses on innovation. The 2-day event brings together the winning teams from the Hackathons and the finalists from the Virtual Challenge for a variety of workshops, networking opportunities, training, exhibitions and much more – all of this in a stunning event location in Dubai. For these teams, the whole trip will be paid for by Merck! The highlight of the X-Innovation Summit is the Demo Day, where all the top teams present their ideas. The winner of the Virtual Challenge will be rewarded with prizes, and will be automatically put on the top 15 shortlist of the Merck Accelerator applications!

Merck Accelerator

Location: Innovation Center @ Merck Headquarter, Darmstadt, Germany

The winning team from the X-Innovation Summit is automatically placed on the Accelerator shortlist. This means they immediately make it into the top 15 applications! Furthermore, the intense training from the journey works like a bootcamp, and provides the team with everything they need to get their idea and startup to the next level: Create an own company and/or bring your existing startup to the next stage.

The Merck Accelerator supports seed-phase companies with a focus on the fields of healthcare, life science and performance materials. After selecting business models for the program, the chosen companies receive office space in the brand new Merck Innovation Center in Darmstadt. The new Innovation Center will open in Spring 2018 and is over 6 times bigger than the current building. The selected startups will be the first movers in this groundbreaking facility from an architectural perspective. Besides workspaces, startups receive mentoring and coaching on a regular basis, from a pool consisting of more than 50,000 experts from 67 countries. Furthermore, the teams get financial support of up to €50,000. The program focuses on connection and collaboration between the startups and the relevant business sectors with Merck for a future oriented perspective.

This is a long and exciting trip. Are you ready for this? Or do you just want to dive into a single one of our programs like Hackathon, Virtual Challenge or Accelerator? No problem – the choice is yours!

Find even more information on our respective websites along with the next starting dates and the related application forms. We are looking forward to it! Stay curious!