The winner will receive €10,000 ($11,500), as well as the opportunity to undertake potential collaborations with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.
With the exception of healthcare professionals, anyone may enter the competition, a spokesperson told us: “It is aimed at academics, researchers, and scientists…around the world.”
Merck will select up to 12 candidates to participate in the challenge by September 15, 2018, all of whom will retain the intellectual property ownership of their submitted synthetic routes.
The 12 candidates will then be given the structure of a small molecule, and have 96 hours to submit their proposed synthetic route. Entries will be tested in a wet lab by a team of internal Merck scientists.
“The best synthetic route for the synthesis will be determined by the achieved number of synthesis steps, obtained yield, and achieved purity,” the spokesperson told us.
Why celebrate the firm’s 350th birthday with a small molecule challenge, we asked? “The aim is to continue to solidify Merck’s reputation as a leader in the field of organic chemistry and synthesis,” the spokesperson said.