The competition is designed to foster ideas which bring space technology and business models into non-space applications and vice versa, as well as furthering space exploration for the benefit of Earth. Merck’s sponsorship of the Sustainable Exploration Prize originates in a close relationship between Merck and the European Space Agency (ESA) stretching all the way back to 2011. In December 2016 and after many joint projects, Merck and ESA formalized their collaboration for at least two years, with the aim of fostering innovation and digitalization together.
The Sustainable Exploration Challenge from Merck and Airbus promotes ideas and innovations that will further a sustainable space environment capable of supporting human life in space in the long-term, whether it be through recycling man-made space debris to troubleshooting the extra-terrestrial matter cycle. The final Sustainable Exploration Prize will be awarded to technological and business ideas from research spin-offs to startups and young companies using chemical and biological processes who are working to close the sustainability loop and make human life in space a realistic possibility.
The three finalists will receive a customized support package from Merck and Airbus including access to Merck and Airbus experts, pitching opportunities with Merck Ventures and/or Airbus Ventures and support in applying (and/or expedited applications) to tailored Acceleration programs from Merck and Airbus. The winner will also receive an all-inclusive trip to the Merck X-Innovation Summit 2017 in Dubai, and a fully customized one-day joint Merck-Airbus expert workshop at the Merck Innovation Center. Included in this prize pool worth over $500,000 is the opportunity to be shortlisted for the Merck Accelerator in Spring 2018.
The competition as a whole offers great opportunities for startups to get in contact with experts in the aerospace, healthcare, life sciences, and performance materials industries. The ESA Space Exploration Masters Awards Ceremony on November 16 and 17, 2017 in Luxembourg will offer prime opportunities for international networking within the space community.
Teams can apply from the 20th June to 8th September 2017 under the following topics: