2019 - All Press Releases

Nature Research and Merck establish The Spinoff Prize to celebrate early stage university spinoff companies

Applications are now open for The Spinoff Prize – a new award for visionary, science- based companies that are on their way to making a commercial impact; winning Spinoff to receive a prize of €30,000; applications open until Feb 28, 2020

London | Heidelberg, 2 December 2019 

Nature Research, part of publisher Springer Nature, has partnered with Merck, Germany, a leading science and technology company, to create an award for early stage spinoffs* from around the world. The award aims to provide visibility and support for academic entrepreneurs and their companies. Recently formed spinoff companies founded on research carried out at universities and research institutes worldwide are invited to apply. The judging panel will 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.  

In its first year, The Spinoff Prize will focus on companies commercialising research in four broad categories: pharmaceuticals, agriculture, chemicals and digital technologies. A longlist of highly commended spinoffs will be profiled in a special report published in Nature. Shortlisted spinoffs will pitch in front of a live audience during the Curious Future Insight Conference 2020, after which one winner will receive a €30,000 cash prize. The deadline for applications is 28 February 2020. 

Richard Hughes, VP, Publishing, Nature Research Partnerships, said: “The formation of spinoffs by universities drives local and national economic growth, and provides solutions to real-world problems. Yet for the benefits that spinoffs bring, there is currently no widely recognised, international showcase of spinoff excellence, and we would like to build one. We’re delighted to be launching The Spinoff Prize with our trusted partners, Merck and hope entrepreneurs will find participation in the competition to be valuable.” 

Ulrich Betz, VP Innovation Merck said: „We are proud to have Nature Research’s The Spinoff Prize as an important addition to the Curious Future Insight Conference, one of the world’s most renowned events on the future of science and technology, initiated at the occasion of Merck’s 350th anniversary.”

Applications will be judged by a panel of experts that includes editorial staff from Nature Research, senior representatives of Merck and its corporate venture arm M Ventures, as well as independent experts. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch in a slam competition during the Curious2020 - Future Insight Conference in Darmstadt, Germany. The first winners of The Spinoff Prize will be awarded during this conference.

*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.

Further Information

For information about The Spinoff Prize and the application procedure please see here.

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

Springer Nature is a leading research, educational and professional publisher, providing quality content to our communities through a range of innovative platforms, products and services. Every day, around the globe, our imprints, books, journals and resources reach millions of people – helping researchers, students, teachers and professionals to discover, learn and achieve more. Through our family of brands, we aim to serve and support the research, education and professional communities by putting them at the heart of all we do, delivering the highest possible standards in content and technology, and helping shape the future of publishing for their benefit and for society overall. Visit: springernature.com/group and follow @SpringerNature.

About Merck

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 56,000 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 2018, Merck generated sales of € 14.8 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck’s technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck 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 operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.


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