Merck, a leading science and technology company, announces the start of its equity-free accelerator program for digital health startups in Nairobi, Kenya. The three-month program will support three startups in the field of digital healthcare with an equity-free funding of 15,000 USD each as well as opening the doors to Merck’s global network of experts for ongoing coaching and mentoring. The startups will be hosted at “Nairobi Garage”, a co-working-space for startups, techies and entrepreneurs at the heart of Nairobi’s startup scene.
Besides the established Merck Accelerator in Darmstadt, Germany, Nairobi is the first program outside of Germany. “Africa is one of the most promising and dynamic digital markets with an innovative startup culture. With our Accelerator program we aim to become part of it”, explains Michael Gamber, Head of Merck Innovation Center.
The program is structured by a fixed curriculum with a three-months duration. The Merck Accelerator team is well connected to experts in various fields in the vibrant startup ecosystem of Nairobi. The teams will have access to a network of more than 50,000 Merck employees across 66 countries as the program is for example strongly connected to the German Accelerator program. Startups in Nairobi will have the opportunity to virtually take part in lectures in Germany and vice versa.
The program does not foresee an equity interest in the companies receiving funding, nor influence over their operational and strategic management.
“We have no short-term interest in revenue with our accelerator. First of all we want to develop ideas together with founders. We aim to build long term partnerships with a benefit for both the startups and Merck as an established company”, says Gamber.
Interested founder teams can apply for both of the programs on the website until February 29th, 2016.
Merck in Africa
The company currently has around 400 employees across ten African countries and aims to increase this number to around 1,000 by 2020. Merck’s largest location in Africa is in South Africa, from where the company also steers business in South-East Africa including Kenya, Angola and Mozambique. Merck’s sales in Africa climbed to around € 200 million in 2015 and are expected to reach € 500 million by 2020.
Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2014, Merck generated sales of € 11.3 billion in 66 countries.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.