Merck accelerator welcomes biotech start-ups specializing in AI and machine learning

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags start-ups Merck Artificial intelligence AI machine learning MSD

Merck (MSD outside the US and Canada) is welcoming applications from early-stage biomedical start-ups for its newly launched Merck Digital Sciences Studio (MDSS): which seeks to support technologies for drug discovery and development.

The 10-month accelerator program will support participating start-ups with direct investment, access to Azure Cloud computing and opportunities to pilot their technologies in collaboration with discovery and clinical scientists at Merck.

It is taking applications for 12 spots for the first MDSS cohort beginning in October, with the deadline for applications set as September 1.

'Tremendous opportunity' in AI

Digital technologies are already enabling innovation in biomarker and drug discovery and development in the areas of target identification, lead discovery, pre-clinical development, and clinical development. Through MDSS, Merck and its collaborators will selectively accelerate and pilot novel and innovative digital technologies that are strategically aligned with Merck’s life science research areas.

Startups developing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) applications will be prioritized, says Fiona Marshall, senior vice president, Discovery, Preclinical and Translational Medicine at Merck Research Laboratories.

“The biopharmaceutical industry has only just started to harness the tremendous opportunity presented by emerging technological developments in AI and ML.

“The MDSS will provide a collaborative and entrepreneurial setting where scientists have access to the tools and expertise to fuel important innovations that advance drug discovery and development.”

The MDSS is a collaboration between Merck and the New Jersey Innovation Institute (NJII), a New Jersey Institute of Technology corporation, with investments from the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Northpond Ventures and McKesson Ventures. Technology support will be provided by Microsoft for Startups.

The MDSS will have locations in Newark, NJ and Cambridge, MA.

Entrepreneurs can apply via the MDSS website​.

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