2021 - All Press Releases

Eight companies to compete in final rounds in bid to win The Spinoff Prize 2021

Science-based university spinoff companies are to present their technology and their business plans in the final rounds of The Spinoff Prize, a Nature Research Award supported by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany that aims to support and give visibility to academic entrepreneurs and their companies.

London | New York | Darmstadt, 24 June 2021

Nature Research Awards, part of the academic publisher, Springer Nature and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, have today announced the eight finalists of the 2021 Spinoff Prize, as well as ten ‘ones to watch’. This year’s finalists, coming from across Europe, North America and Asia, include companies working on ground-breaking solutions to far-reaching issues in biomedical research, neuroscience, diagnostics and renewable energy. A supplement published today in Nature profiles each of the finalists, which are listed in the table below.  

Taking place for the second time, The Spinoff Prize was established by Nature Portfolio (previously known as Nature Research) and Merck to showcase and celebrate global excellence in the commercialisation of research through the creation of spinoff* companies. Judges look for spinoffs that translate original, high-quality scientific research into products and services that address market problems and are well positioned to make a positive impact on society. The awards form part of the wider Nature Research Awards suite which look to celebrate and champion scientific excellence globally.

Richard Hughes, VP, Publishing, Nature Research Partnerships, said: “Supporting the research community is at the heart of what we do. Alongside our trusted partner Merck, we are delighted to be able to build on the success of last year’s award and continue to showcase the innovative work of spinoffs around the globe. The Spinoff Prize provides a platform for early stage companies and — we hope — helps them to find investors so they can realise their missions.”

Ulrich Betz, Vice President Innovation, Merck, added: “The Spinoff Prize fits extremely well to our Future insight Initiative - science for a better tomorrow.”

Finalists will be pitching to the panel of expert judges at an online slam in an effort to win the €30,000 cash prize, with judges announcing the winner as part of the Future Insight Virtual Event on 12 July 2021.

Profiling such work demonstrates the role Nature Research Awards and Merck KGaA play in the translation of research into economic value.

*The term spinoff in this case refers to a company that has been formed specifically to commercialise the outputs generated from research conducted at a university or research institute.

Cambridge Photon Technology

University of Cambridge, UK


University of Maryland, US


University of Exeter, UK


University of Cambridge, UK


Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Tel Aviv University, Israel


University of Trento, Italy

C2i Genomics

The New York Genome Center, US

ONA Therapeutics

Fundació Institut de Recerca Biomédica de Barcelona, Spain


About Springer Nature

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Nature Portfolio’s high-quality products and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences is dedicated to serving the scientific community.
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About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and electronics. Around 58,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2020, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, generated sales of € 17.5 billion in 66 countries.

The company holds the global rights to the name and trademark “Merck” internationally. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Electronics. Since its founding in 1668, scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to the company’s technological and scientific advances. To this day, the founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company.


Sam Sule
Communications Officer, Corporate Affairs
Springer Nature