In collaboration with the New Jersey Innovation Institute, Merck launched the Merck Digital Sciences Studio, designed to enable technology generation for drug discovery and development, the Rahway-based biopharmaceutical giant announced June 29.
The studio will support early-stage biomedical startups with investments as well as access to technology and other opportunities in collaboration with Merck scientists.
The program plans to include six startups at NJII’s VentureLink incubator in Newark and six in Cambridge, Mass. The company said it will prioritize startups developing artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.
Applications are already open for the first cohort.
“The biopharmaceutical industry has only just started to harness the tremendous opportunity presented by emerging technological developments in AI, and ML,” Fiona Marshall — senior vice president, Discovery, Preclinical and Translational Medicine at Merck Research Laboratories — said in a statement. “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.”
NJII, a New Jersey Institute of Technology corporation, will provide training, programming and other support that is critical in this early stage. Additionally, its Entrepreneurship Division will provide workshops, mentorship, office hours, coaching and events to support participants.
“Startups in the biopharmaceutical industry fuel innovation, create high-quality jobs and generate great opportunities for a stronger, more diverse and inclusive life-sciences ecosystem,” Simon Nynens, CEO of NJII, said in a statement. “NJII looks forward to providing the programming, coaching, and connections to bring these ideas to life.”
The MDSS received investments from the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, Northpond Ventures and McKesson Ventures. Technology support will be provided by Microsoft for Startups. McDermott Will & Emery provided counsel and FLG Partners provided CFO services in the creation of MDSS.