Merck Digital Sciences Studio Supports Early-Stage Startups

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BP Elements, BioPharm International's BP Elements, August 2022, Volume 1, Issue 8

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, now offers the Merck Digital Sciences Studio, designed to enable innovative tech for drug discovery and development.

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, launched its Merck Digital Sciences Studio (MDSS) in June 2022, which is aimed at enabling the generation of innovative technologies for drug discovery and development.

The objective of MDSS is to support early-stage biomedical startups with direct investment, access to Azure Cloud computing, and opportunities to pilot their respective technologies in collaboration with discovery and clinical scientists at Merck. Merck opened applications on its website for 12 spots for the first MDSS cohort, and applications for startups developing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will be prioritized, according to a June 29, 2022 company press release. The program currently plans to include six startups at each of MDSS’ Newark, NJ, and Cambridge, Mass., venues.

The MDSS is a collaboration between Merck and the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), a New Jersey Institute of Technology corporation. Investments have come from the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Northpond Ventures, and McKesson Ventures. In addition, Microsoft for Startups will provide technology support, including Microsoft 365 and Azure, as well as provide expert business advice and technical support.

Digital technologies have enabled the innovation of biomarkers for use in drug discovery and development, specifically in the areas of target identification, lead discovery, preclinical development, and clinical development. MDSS will allow collaborators to selectively accelerate and pilot novel and innovative digital technologies that strategically align with Merck’s life science research.


“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, Merck Research Laboratories, in the company press release. “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.”

“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, NJII, in the release. “NJII looks forward to providing the programming, coaching, and connections to bring these ideas to life.”

Source: Merck