2020 - All Press Releases

The Spinoff Prize 2020 is awarded to Sibel Health

Company working on flexible devices to monitor heart rate and blood pressure in premature babies wins award created by Nature Research and Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

London | New York | Darmstadt, 13 July 2020

The first Spinoff Prize has been awarded to the company Sibel Health which was spun off from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois in the US. In the final round of virtual pitching, which took place as part of the Future Insight Virtual Event on 13 July 2020, Sibel Health competed against three other university spinoff companies: Caristo Diagnostics, Forkhead BioTherapeutics and PredictImmune. Sibel Health has developed a sensor system for premature babies that avoids the need for adhesive patches which can damage the babies’ fragile skin. The sensors are wireless which makes it easier for medical staff to perform the necessary procedures and for families to have invaluable interaction with premature infants in a way that the most sophisticated current medical equipment does not. Sibel Health aims to make the technology accessible and affordable globally through lower cost wearable devices and accessories, as well as allowing analysis to take place on readily available mobile devices.  

Magdalena Skipper, Editor-in-Chief of Nature and member of the judging panel, said: “We congratulate Sibel Health on behalf of everyone at Nature Research. The judges were impressed by the potential global impact that Sibel Health’s technology has, and their clear plans for scaling this up. It is especially exciting that Sibel Health’s technology is intended to be affordable in a wide range of settings, and speaks for a patient group that does not itself have a voice.”

Ulrich Betz, VP Innovation Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, said: “The Spinoff Prize finalists demonstrated an amazing collection of breakthrough science with high potential to solve real world problems – indeed a great fit to the “Curious – Future Insight Conference. We at Merck have a long successful history of working with technology pioneers from all over the world.”

The Spinoff Prize has been established by Nature Research in partnership with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. The prize aims to provide visibility and support for academic entrepreneurs and their companies, worldwide. All university spinoff companies formed on or after 30 November 2016 were eligible to apply. The winner receives a cash prize of €30,000 (thirty thousand EUROs). Profiles of each of the finalists, as well as 32 promising companies selected as “ones to watch”, are included in a special supplement published in Nature. 

*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.

About Nature Research

Nature Research is a portfolio of high-quality products and services across the life, physical, chemical and applied sciences – including journals, databases and researcher services – dedicated to serving the scientific community.

Nature (founded in 1869) is the leading, international weekly journal of science. Nature Research also publishes a range of Nature-branded subscription journals, the leading open access multidisciplinary journal Nature Communications, other open access journals including Scientific Reports, and a range of Nature Partner Journals published in partnership with institutions and societies. Together, these journals publish some of the world's most significant scientific discoveries.

Online, nature.com provides over nine million unique visitors per month with Nature Research content, including news and comment from Nature, and the leading scientific jobs board, Nature Careers. Nature Research also offers a range of researcher services, including online and in-person training and expert language and editing services. For more information, please visit nature.com and follow @nresearchnews. Nature Research is part of Springer Nature.

About Springer Nature

For over 175 years Springer Nature has been advancing discovery by providing the best possible service to the whole research community. We help researchers uncover new ideas, make sure all the research we publish is significant, robust and stands up to objective scrutiny, that it reaches all relevant audiences in the best possible format, and can be discovered, accessed, used, re-used and shared. We support librarians and institutions with innovations in technology and data; and provide quality publishing support to societies. 

As a research publisher, Springer Nature is home to trusted brands including Springer, Nature Research, BMC, Palgrave Macmillan and Scientific American. For more information, please visit springernature.com and @SpringerNature

About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 57,000 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 2019, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, generated sales of € 16.2 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to the technological and scientific advances of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. This is how Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. 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 Performance Materials.

Further Information

The application period for The Spinoff Prize 2021 will open on 10 August 2020. Register here for updates.


Elizabeth Hawkins | Springer Nature | Communications
tel +49 6221 487 8130 | elizabeth.hawkins@springernature.com