China: Innovation Hubs Merck Announces 14 Million Dollar Seed Fund for Chinese Start-Ups
The seed fund has been initiated by Merck to encourage start-ups in China and to foster innovations in health and life sciences. The company will make this hefty investment through its corporate strategic venture arm, M Ventures.
Darmstadt/Germany – Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, has recently announced a 14 million dollar (€ 13 million) seed fund targeted at startups in China. The company also inaugurated its innovation hub in Shanghai and announced plans to officially open a second innovation hub in Guangzhou in November.
“Our 14 million dollar China seed fund underlines our commitment to invest in the Chinese market,” said Stefan Oschmann, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, at the opening ceremony in Shanghai. “Our China innovation hubs will accelerate our innovation development nationwide. Together with local partners, we aim to jointly advance innovation in China, for China and beyond.”
Within the scope of the overall 334 million dollar corporate strategic venture arm M Ventures, the new 14 million dollar seed fund is being established to foster relevant innovations from China. The fund will also help to get closer to the startup scene in China owing to the country’s commitment to innovation.
M Ventures intends to invest in Chinese seed-stage companies with individual investments ranging between 500,000 dollars and 1 million dollars. The seed investment is meant to help the startups reach the next value inflection point within 18-24 months. The initiative targets early innovations generated within the Chinese innovation ecosystem with a connection to healthcare, life science, performance materials or new businesses.
The seed investment will be managed by M Ventures and the China innovation hub of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, jointly. Both innovation hubs in Shanghai and Guangzhou are located in areas of high early-venture activity. “This is the first activity of our corporate strategic venture arm in China,” Oschmann continued. “Our seed fund initiative aims to deliver strategic returns so as to underscore our position as an innovator in China and to strengthen our ties to the dynamic Chinese innovation ecosystem.”
The newly inaugurated innovation hub in Shanghai is located in the New Bund World Trade Center and occupies 1,000 square meters. Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, will invite startups, academic institutions and other industry players to partner on joint innovation projects. The hub was established by a dedicated innovation team in February 2018 and has already started building partnerships in not only the three innovation fields of the company but for China also in AI-enabled health solutions.
To date, six startups from China and other Asian countries have successfully taken part in the first phase of the company’s Accelerator in China. The Accelerator programme helps Chinese startups to connect with global innovation networks, thus supporting China in its transformation into an innovation-driven economy.
Plans for the second innovation hub of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, in Guangdong in southern China were announced in late 2018. The ‘Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area’, released by the local government this year states that it will promote innovation in new materials, life science, healthcare and beyond. The 700 square meter facility will be officially inaugurated in November 2019.