MERCK PRESS RELEASE – 2022 Research Challenges

Research Challenges

Over the recent decades, the creation, discovery, and use of science and technology have become increasingly important to all sectors of society. At the same time, research in isolation is becoming a thing of the past and partnering is key to realizing the value of new technologies. In an effort to jump-start innovation and research worldwide, Merck is organising a series of research competitions.

The 2022 Merck Research Challenges are designed as research competitions for technology pioneers in areas of high innovation who are interested in collaborating with Merck. Winning these challenges opens new avenues for partnering with the research group and the chance to win up to €10,000. This competition will bring together researchers, innovators, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders from across the world to present recent scientific discoveries and technological advancements, while also showcasing ground-breaking developments on the global stage.

Merck is a leading science and technology company that launched its first Research Challenges in 2018, in celebration of the company’s 350th year in the industry.

About the 2022 Research Challenges 

Merck is using these challenges to build its network of partners around the topics and reward the best submissions. The 2022 challenges are as follows:

Ferroelectric Nematics Challenge

This challenge is an idea competition for the most promising applications of ferroelectric nematic liquid crystals in electronics. These new materials show outstanding dielectric properties, large dielectric anisotropies and strong ferroelectric properties that have the potential to be reinterpreted in a more industrial fashion. New creative applications have been suggested in exciting areas such as energy harvesting, actuator, sensor, capacitor, haptic and memory applications (this is a non-exhaustive list).

A free developer kit will be offered to the most interesting submissions (up to ten) to test creative applications of ferroelectric nematic liquid crystals in electronics.

Background information can be found on the liquid crystals page:

Compound Challenge

This challenge aims to identify the best submitted synthetic route as determined by number of synthesis steps, yield obtained, purity achieved, and feasibility of subsequent steps not performed. Merck invites participants to provide an original synthesis protocol for a small molecule.

Based on their evaluation of the participants, Merck will select the top ten best routes to participate in the synthesis phase of the challenge. The selected routes will be tested in a wet lab. The participants with the best route (as determined by the above criteria) will win a prize of €10,000.

Future Game Changers in Science and Technology

Only recently have we seen exciting breakthroughs in science and technology that have catalysed, or will catalyse, amazing progress! Merck is looking for the next big thing that can be considered game-changing for many years to come and wants to be presented with concepts in science and technology still not widely known, still not in all the newsletters, still not on everybody’s mind, but promising to open new avenues for progress with outstanding potential for humanity.

The winning participants will get a chance to join a Merck workshop in November 2022, where the top 10 teams will present their breakthroughs in science and technology that have already catalysed amazing progress, or will do so in the future.

Who can join? 

These challenges are open to scientists of all career stages, and to start-ups and companies. The Compound Challenge may be of interest to scientists and special interest groups in organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry. The Ferroelectric Nematics Challenge may be of interest to scientists and special interest groups in physical chemistry and electronics, while the Game Changing Technologies Challenge may be of interest to all audiences interested in the advancement of science, at all career stages, as well as to start-ups and companies.

These challenges are not open to healthcare professionals.

How to apply 

For a chance to participate, please fill out the applications available on our website by April 30th 2022, before 23:59 (CET). In the first stage you will find out more about the challenge topics and whether they are a good fit to you and your skillset. In the second stage, you will have the opportunity to engage in the research challenges of your choice.

The team will evaluate all submissions by the criteria published on the challenge websites. The most promising ideas can win up to €10,000 and get the chance to present their work to Merck’s highly regarded scientists.

Check the Merck website for further details.

Important Dates to Remember

Timeline (times are Central European Time, CET)1

Application / registration (non-confidential only) Solution phase:

Generate and present initial results.

Presentation phase:

Workshop and/or announcement of winners

Ferroelectric Nematics Challenge 30 April 2022 (23:59 CET)1 30 August 20221 22 September 20221


Game Changing Technologies 30 April 2022 (23:59 CET) 1 15 October 20221 10 Nov 20221
Compound Challenge 30 April 2022 (23:59 CET) 1 2 May 2022, 09:00 CET – 6 May 2022 08:59 CET1 t.b.d.


For more information about the Merck 2022 Research Challenges, visit this link.


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