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Merck KGaA - Executive of the Year - Pharmaceuticals

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2018, Click to Enter The 2019 International Business Awards

Company: Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Company Description: Merck is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. We've been around for 350 years, yet our majority owners are still the descendants of Friedrich Jacob Merck, the man who founded our company in Darmstadt, Germany in 1668. Since then, we have become a truly global company, with 52,000 employees in 66 countries working on breakthrough solutions.
Nomination Category: Management Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Executive of the Year - Pharmaceuticals

Nomination Title: Holistic concept for Merck's 350 anniversary year scientific activities track “Curious2018, FutureInsightPrize, Anniversary Innovation Cup”

Tell the story about what this nominated executive has achieved since 1 January 2017 (up to 650 words). Describe the impact he or she has had on your organization. Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Merck is celebrating its 350th anniversary in 2018 with the theme “Always curious - Imagine the next 350 years.” The holistic concept of the science track of the festivities, developed in close cooperation with the founding family is led by Ulrich Betz with a special emphasis on topics of global and humanitarian interest. “Healthy lives, Materials and solutions, Bright future, Vibrant digital, Life reimagined”. These general themes will be relevant for the next 350 years in our history and were inspired by surveys with the scientific public and refined interviews with opinion leaders.

Ulrich Betz as VP has been heading Merck BioPharma’s Centre of Innovation and the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Incubator since 2009. Ulrich has lead a portfolio of innovation initiatives with interdisciplinary reach, and with a vision for innovative approaches in particular to Biopharma R&D. In 2017 and 2018, Ulrich developed and hosted a conference with 35 distinguished speakers (including 5 Nobel laureates), as well as launching research grants with a high level of integration in the organisation, the FutureInsightPrize and the anniversary edition of the innovation cup, a business plan competition.

True to the theme of "always curious", Merck is imagining the future with the present and future creators and leaders of the innovation society, that includes internationally renowned opinion leaders, scientists and entrepreneurs as well as the new generation of growing talent.

At Curious2018 renowned technology pioneers discuss the future of science and technology. The conference format includes panel discussions with top publishing houses Nature and Science as well as bar-camps on the themes, using an innovative format in which all presentations are limited to 10 minutes. We also invite exhibitors to introduce their companies involved in drug discovery, biotechnology, performance materials or digitization.

The conference is planned for 1000 participants and participation is free. By advertising in scientific and personal networks, as well as in international media, we have reached an outstanding range of companies and research facilities which resulted in applications from more than 100 different universities and research institutes and 200 different companies, as well as exhibitors from all over the world.

This flagship conference re-frames several other ongoing open innovation activities as special editions. Conference speakers are invited to join the Anniversary Innovation Cup in a meeting of the generations as coaches or as participants in the jury.

The Innovation Cup itself is an international business plan competition (2018 in the 8th year) bringing together international young talent, students, postdocs of science and business students with experienced retired Merck Serono employees to develop new and innovative approaches to drug discovery.

In contrast to other business plan competitions, teams are carefully selected, matched and coached so that important aspects are covered, e.g. scientific rationale and technical feasibility, medical needs, benefits to the customer, financial viability, and patent issues. This results in a high-quality package sufficient to assess investment opportunities.

An expert panel of Merck executives plus externals (from e.g. venture funds) judges the teams and reward the winner with € 20,000 and the Merck Innovation Cup.

The conference is also the birthplace of the FutureInsightPrize which rewards and honours outstanding achievements leading to ground-breaking innovations for the future of mankind.

The activities are designed so that the FutureInsightPrize can be used to promote and implement topics that were initiated and discussed during the conference and developed to the level of business plans in the innovation cup, while delivering sustainably for the next 35 years.

Ulrich’s achievements in 2017/18 also include meeting important milestones in several other innovation initiatives, including the BioMedX Incubator and project pipeline milestones.

The holistic design of conference, Innovation Cup and FutureInsightPrize in the anniversary year 2018 are landmark achievements in shaping the tools and partnerships that have led to a company with a real claim to be a “global specialty innovator” and a pharma pipeline that is unparalleled in a pharmaceutical company of comparable size.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated executive since the beginning of 2017

-Creator Merck Innovation Cup 2018: special anniversary edition, record number of applications (2200).
-Creator Curious2018 Conference (
-Creator FutureInsightPrize
Creator Outcubation concept, went live in collaboration with Christian Tidona as biotech start-BioMedX GmbH, met new milestone in 2018
-Review article “is the force awakening” on technological developments of humankind since the beginning of time and projections into the future.
-Special anniversary publications 2018 in Science, Nature, Harvard Business Review
-Coinventor Prevymis (Letermovir), anti-HCMV drug, U.S. FDA approval in 2018..
-Coinventor or Pritelivir, the anti-HSV drug, successfully passed Phase 2 clinical trials in 2017.
-Initiator of award winning innospire idea sourcing program (Bio IT Award 2011): establishment of business unit for project licrieye (
-Germany R&D Manager of the year 2017, German Gold Stevie Award Winner 2017