MEST Africa Summit sponsor spotlight: Merck

The MEST Africa Summit is just a month away! We’re looking forward to welcoming leading global investors and corporate executives, and entrepreneurs from across the continent and the globe, to Cape Town to discuss trends in the Pan-African tech space and the continent’s most promising scaleups.

We’re grateful to our key partners for making the Summit possible. Alongside Facebook, MTN, Dalberg and Kenya Airways, we’ll be joined by leading science and technology company Merck. We had a chat with the Merck team below for some insights into their focus on innovation, collaboration with startups and thought on the Summit!

What is Merck doing to focus on innovation, and specifically what are your plans on the continent?

The Merck Innovation Center links a creative working environment with a culture of openness and exchange between employees and external startups, visionaries and companies from around the world.

We team up and join forces with external innovators to develop innovations beyond our current boundaries. And that’s why, for our Accelerator program, we select and support early-stage startups as partners that shape the future together with us. In Africa specifically, we have established a diverse startup network and run challenges with leading hubs, including MEST, to widen and open new channels for collaborating with startups.

For us, collaborating with startups is not only a tremendous business opportunity, but also is part of our innovation strategy to identify innovative approaches at an early stage between and beyond our current businesses, with the final objective of helping ideas grow and scaling them to sustainable businesses.

We receive a tremendous amount of good startup applications, and it can be a challenge to narrow it down and select the best teams we can have collaboration projects with. Our Africa satellite program was built as a gateway for startups to quickly explore and validate the potential for co-creating and collaborating with Merck. Moreover, we also get the opportunity to get insights in latest technology trends and learn how to be more flexible and agile in our processes from startups.

Have there been any great success cases so far?

Yes! Through our Accelerator, we piloted an end-to-end tracking system to bring transparency to our value chain for our Praziquantel donation program, in an effort to fight Schistosomiasis in Kenya. We successfully collaborated with Secure Data Kit (SDK) — a startup that helped us with a tool that centralizes and coordinates information from a variety of sources to better monitor and evaluate our supply chain from production to end user. Right now, the project is running in full swing, and for us this is a good example of a successful startup-corporate collaboration.

Why have you decided to partner with MEST for the MEST Africa Summit?

This is a great way to officially launch our Cape Town Satellite partnership. We are looking to engage the key players and startups in the ecosystem that MEST has managed to gather. We are also looking forward to engaging with startups that are interested in applying for our Cape Town Challenge, in collaboration with MEST, which runs from May 21 until July 20, 2018.

Which panels are you most excited about and why?

All the panels look interesting, but we are most looking forward to ‘Cracking the Corporate Code’ and Agritech panels. As a corporate we are always looking for successful startup-corporate-collaboration, and this is something we are really passionate about.

Also, we are currently looking for ways of combining materials, analytics, and services that can help create a new kind of farming — an agricultural model that is no longer dependent on the blanket application of agrochemicals to fields to feed an expanding global population in a more sustainable and ethical way.

About Merck

Merck is a leading science and technology company in Healthcare, Life Science and Performance Materials. Since our establishment 350 years ago in Darmstadt, Germany, we have become truly global. Today, we have approximately 52,000 employees working on breakthrough solutions and technologies in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company and ssince then, Merck has been working to advance innovation. Over the years, the requirements have changed. Today, innovation needs an environment where curious people with diverse backgrounds can come together, exchange, imagine the next 350 years and grow their ideas to viable new products and services.

Don’t miss out on the MEST Africa Summit 2018 in Cape Town. Get your ticket now.

The largest Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for startups: www.meltwater.org