Merck Foundation Research Grants Program 2020 for Scientists Worldwide (up to 500,000 EUR)

Merck Foundation Research Grants Program 2020 for Scientists Worldwide (up to 500,000 EUR)

Deadline: August 31, 2020

Applications are open for the Merck Foundation Research Grants Program 2020. In 2020, Merck Foundation are offering a series of research grants to stimulate innovative research in challenging areas of future importance.

Grants are available in the areas of

  • Drug discovery
  • Bioreactor design for cultured meat
  • Next generation machine learning
  • Pandemic preparedness / fighting new emerging viral infectious disease


Drug discovery: What is the next game-changing molecule or technology to help cure cancer or autoimmune disease? Merck is offering research grants for proposals that have the potential to advance the field of drug discovery within Oncology and Autoimmune Diseases. Proposals will be considered

  • That help to identify and characterize the next game-changing molecule or technology to help cure cancer or autoimmune disease.
  • Innovative research on molecular targets or pathophysiological pathways with untapped potential to be the next big therapeutic breakthrough.
  • New breakthrough enabling technologies for drug discovery.
  • Methods that improve translation from and predictivity of preclinical models to the clinical situation.

Bioreactor Design for Cultured Meat: The industry relies heavily on technologies that have been developed for the biopharma industry. However, the scale and cost requirements for the two industries are vastly different. Proposals will be considered that help to develop the next generation, scalable bioreactors that can support industrial scale meat and seafood manufacturing. Reimagine existing technologies to fit the performance efficiency, cost and sustainability requirements. Innovate on aspects of the system from fabrication of scaffolds to operation strategy and perfusion dynamics, automation intelligence and harvesting.

Next Generation Machine Learning: Artificial neural networks are inspired by biological brains, but their conceptual foundations are quite old: they were modeled after the brain’s anatomy in the 1950s and 1960s – according to the understanding at that time. Fundamental limitations remain, in particular, the need for large amounts of training data and the difficulties in generalizing and extrapolating between domains. A deeper mathematical understanding of cognitive processes like auditory or visual perception may trigger progress both in neuroscience and in artificial intelligence. Project proposals will be considered that seek to overcome current limitations in AI by a new generation of algorithms, inspired by today’s neurosciences and by advances in brain research.

Pandemic Preparedness / Fighting Emerging New Viral Infectious Disease: The threat from newly emerging viral infections is one of the top global challenges for humanity. The recent COVID-19 pandemic shows that pandemic preparedness and having the right products and technology to fight infectious diseases with epidemic and pandemic potential is of utmost importance. It is required to act quickly to limit further substantial damages to society, economy and ecology. Project proposals will be considered that leverage modern technologies to create new breakthrough solutions to be more prepared for pandemic outbreaks or work towards existing solutions that could help to fight emerging viral infections.


  • Grants of 100,000 EUR – 500,000 EUR per year for up to 3 years are available.


  • Submissions are accepted from scientists in all countries all over the world.
  • Scientists in all career stages who are affiliated with any research-based institution, university or company can apply.
  • Applicants submit their application for the focus topics containing non-confidential information only. You may apply for more than one focus topic. If your application is successful, you will be invited to submit a full proposal and join a deep-dive workshop with the other finalists in 2020. 


Submissions will be accepted until August 31, 2020 Central European Summer Time, for Drug Discover, Bioreactor Design, Next Generation machine Learning Topics. For the pandemic preparedness topic, there is no fixed deadline, since applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis so that they are able to provide a quicker response in these challenging times.

Click here to apply

For more information, visit Merck Foundation Research Grants.