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The Spinoff Prize

The Spinoff Prize has been established by Nature Research in partnership with Merck to showcase and celebrate global excellence in the commercialisation of research through the creation of spinoff companies.

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About the award

Applications are now open for The Spinoff Prize — a new award for early stage university spinoff companies from around the world.

The Spinoff Prize aims to encourage and give visibility to academic entrepreneurs and their companies. The judging panel will look for spinoffs that translate original, high-quality scientific research into products and services that address market problems and are well positioned to make a positive impact on society.

In its first year, The Spinoff Prize will focus on companies commercialising research in four broad categories: pharmaceuticals, agriculture, chemicals and digital technologies. A longlist of highly commended spinoffs will be profiled in a special report published in Nature. Shortlisted spinoffs will pitch in front of a live audience at the Curious2020 – Future Insight Conference, after which one winner will receive a €30,000 cash prize.

Key dates

30th November 2019

 

Application window opens

28th February 2020

(23:59 GMT)

Application window closes
April 2020 Longlisted and shortlisted companies will be informed under embargo
By early July 2020 Longlisted and shortlisted companies announced within the online special report
During 13th-15th July 2020  

Shortlist slam will take place and the winners of each category and overall winner will be announced at an awards ceremony during the Curious2020 – Future Insight Conference in Darmstadt, Germany

 

 

Eligibility

  • The spinoff company must have been formed to commercially exploit the results of research activity.
  • The organization from which the underpinning research originated must be a university or a research institute.
  • The spinoff has to be a separate legal entity and not an extension or controlled body of the university of research institute, although the university or research institute may still own a controlling equity stake.
  • The spinoff must have been registered as a separate legal entity on or after 30th November 2016.
  • The spinoff can be based in any country, other than those proscribed in Article 2.5 of the Terms & Conditions. 
  • For the 2019/2020 call, the spinoff must be operating in one of the sector categories listed below. As this is the inaugural year of The Spinoff Prize, we are unable to predict the number of applicants. Thus, we have taken the decision to select specific sectors with a view to broadening this in future.

    Pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and medical technology

    The development of chemical or biological based drugs and medical devices which enable the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and illnesses in humans and animals. In addition, this includes in vitro diagnostics and products or services that support the development of new treatments.

    Agriculture and food technology

    Products and services that aim to improve yields, reduce waste and energy consumption in agriculture, horticulture or aquaculture. This includes approaches relating to primary production and downstream processing, as well as novel foods such as cellular meats.

     Chemicals and advanced materials (Life and health sciences applications)

     New materials and modifications to existing materials in order to obtain superior performance in one or more characteristics that are essential for current or new applications in the life and health sciences.

     Digital technologies (Life and health sciences applications)

     Application of digital technologies to the life and health sciences including artificial intelligence, deep learning, neuromorphic computing and quantum computing

  • A spinoff can only be entered in one sector category.
  • The applicant must be an employee of the spinoff.
  • The applicant can be of any nationality and based in any country, other than those proscribed in Article 2.5 of the Terms & Conditions
  • The applicant will need approval to apply from a senior member of the Technology Transfer Office or equivalent, or if no such office exists, a senior office holder from the institution within the university or research institute from which the underpinning research originated.
  • A number of applications, called the longlist, will be profiled in a special report published in Nature. Thus, the applicant must be prepared to be interviewed by Nature’s reporters, and to provide imagery (company logos, photography, etc.).
  • The applicant must be available to attend the Curious2020 – Future Insight Conference in Darmstadt, Germany during 13th-15th July 2020, as a select number of shortlisted applicants will be invited to participate in the slam competition. For further details please see the following web link https://www.curious2020.com/.
  • If the applicant is shortlisted but is no longer able to attend, a representative of the spinoff may attend instead. They can either be an employee of the spinoff, a member of the Board of Directors, a member of an Advisory Board, or a member of the university or research institute’s Technology Transfer Office or equivalent. Travel expenses will be provided, but shortlisted candidates will be responsible for securing any visas or associated documents to enable them to attend the conference.
  • There is no limit on the number of spinoffs entered from a given university or research institute.

Evaluation process and criteria

Submitted applications will be assessed by our judging panel consisting of editorial staff from Nature Research, experts from Merck and their corporate venture arm M Ventures, and independent experts. Panel members will review applications to create a longlist, which will be published online and a shortlist of applicants for each sector category who will be invited to The Spinoff Prize  slam competition at the Curious2020 – Future Insight Conference in Darmstadt, Germany, which will take place during 13th-15th July 2020. Full details of the format for the slam competition will be provided to the shortlisted applicants in advance. Provisionally a pitch deck will be required to be submitted and a pitch given to the panel followed by a Q&A session. The panel will then discuss and select a winner for each sector category and an overall winner. The judging panel will make up 100% of the votes. The chief judge will make the final decision in the event of a tie.

Applications will be assessed against the following criteria. The applicant will have to answer questions that relate to each of the criteria and the numbers in brackets will be the maximum marks available for each section.

The science (25)

  • Clear demonstration of the originality and quality of the underpinning science.

The opportunity (20)

  • Clearly articulated market problem or unmet need and the suitability and viability of the solution in the context of the competitive landscape.

The plan (15)

  • Clearly articulated and high-quality business model and plan.

The team (15)

  • Strength and suitability of the management team.

The impact (25)

  • Significance of the problem or unmet need and the value of the market opportunity.

Prizes

The longlisted spinoffs will:

  • Be profiled in a special, digital report published in Nature.
  • Receive a free license to use the profile of the spinoff written by expert science writers and any associated infographics.

The shortlisted spinoffs and applicants will:

  • Be profiled in a special, digital report published in Nature.
  • Receive a free license to use the profile of the spinoff written by expert science writers and any associated infographics.
  • Have the right to use The Spinoff Prize 2020 mark on their website and pitch material.
  • Be invited to participate in the final pitch slam at the Curious2020 – Future Insight Conference in Darmstadt, Germany, which will take place during 13th-15th July 2020.
  • Receive reimbursement of up to €1250 for travel costs.
  • Receive a free pass to the conference.

The winning spinoff in each sector category will receive in addition to the above:

  • Have the right to use The Spinoff Prize 2020 sector winner mark on their website and pitch material.
  • Additional coverage in Nature.

The overall winner of The Spinoff Prize will in addition to the above:

  • Receive a cash prize of €30,000.
  • Present to a plenary session at the Curious2020 – Future Insight Conference during 13th-15th July 2020.
  • Have the right to use The Spinoff Prize 2020  winner mark on their website and pitch material.
  • Be featured in a video production produced by Nature.