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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.

Applications are now closed.

This information is subject to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and any resulting restrictions.



This information is subject to change due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and any resulting restrictions.

Due to exceptional circumstances, the deadline for applications for The Spinoff Prize has been extended to 14th December 2020 23:59 GMT. This is a firm deadline and there will be no further extension.

Apply now

Guidelines for applicants

Please read the guidelines for applicants before starting your application.

How to apply

Applications must be submitted through the ONLINE APPLICATION FORM. The questions that you will need to answer are listed below for reference. Entries must be complete (that is, all fields are required unless indicated otherwise) and submitted by 14th December 2020 23:59 GMT to be eligible.

The application

Applicant and spinoff company details
This section will not be judged and is for applicant tracking only. Any information in this section may be used in publication of the longlist and/or shortlist.

  • Applicant’s full name
  • Applicant’s job title within the spinoff company
  • Applicant’s email address
  • Applicant’s phone number (including country code)
  • Applicants nationality
  • Applicants country of residence
  • Spinoff company name
  • Spinoff company registration number
  • Date of formation/registration of spinoff company as a separate legal entity. This must be on or after 10th August 2017 and in the case of companies that are registered in multiple countries, it must be the earliest registration date.
  • Please provide either a pdf copy of a registration document or a link to a statutory online record that verifies the date of formation/registration as a separate legal entity.
  • Please provide a spinoff company logo in high-resolution 150 x 150 pixel JPEG format
  • Please provide a black-and-white headshot applicant photograph in high-resolution 150 x 150 pixel JPEG format
  • Spinoff web address
  • Spinoff postal address
  • Spinoff country
  • Spinoff Twitter handle (optional)
  • Secondary contact person name
  • Secondary email address for an alternate contact person
  • Secondary phone number  for an alternate contact person (including country code)

University or research institute representative’s contact details (to be completed by applicant)  
This section will not be judged and is for verification purposes of application eligibility and origin of underpinning research.

  • Full name of University or research institute representative
  • Job title of University or research institute representative
  • Department of University or research institute
  • University or research institute name
  • University or research institute web address
  • Email address
  • Phone number (including country code)

[Tick box] I understand that Nature Research may contact the person specified above to confirm the eligibility of the application. This person cannot be an employee of the spinoff company, nor an academic founder.

Application questions

This section forms the basis of the evaluation of each entry. The application questions are split into four key topics and an ‘elevator pitch’ summary. We want you to demonstrate the excellence of the science on which your company was founded, a deep knowledge of the opportunity, a well developed business plan, suitability of the team and significance of the potential impact you are seeking to achieve.      

Please do not include any confidential information in your application. Nature Research expects that applicants will withhold any confidential or commercially sensitive information. Nature Research will not put in place any confidentiality agreements with applicants or members of the judging panel.

In answering the questions please avoid qualitative statements such as ‘our diagnostic has a lower false positive rate' and instead provide quantitative information where available and appropriate i.e. ‘our diagnostic has a 4% false positive rate which is 28% better than the gold standard’.

You will not be able to exceed the word limits specified. If you can clearly answer the question in fewer words you are free to do so. Please ensure that you read the question again once you have answered, to ensure that you have addressed all elements of the question.

The Elevator Pitch - a short description of spinoff company

  • Please provide a short, simple and clear overview of the company, including what solution you are developing, what unmet need it is addressing and the potential impact if successful. (150 words)

The science

  • Please list up to 2 scientific papers that have been published based on the research and refer to them in your description below. (50 words)
  • You may include an image that illustrates aspects of the research or findings and refer to     it in your description below. (High resolution JPEG format)
  • Describe, in plain English as far as possible, the research that was conducted in the university/research institute that led to the formation of the spinoff. Include key experiments or findings. Highlight why you consider the research to be highly original and innovative. Please keep in mind that while all of the judges have a strong scientific background, they represent a wide variety of scientific and technological disciplines. In the final stages of the competition, all the judges will read and consider all of the applications remaining and therefore your application must be comprehensible to someone who is not knowledgeable about your field, so please word your answer to be accessible to a broad audience. (400 words)

The opportunity

  • What is the specific problem or unmet need that you are seeking to address? (Details of the significance and economic cost of the problem are to be put in ‘The impact’ section below.) (200 words)
  • What is your intended solution in order to address the problem/need outlined above. How will your solutions be delivered/deployed? (200 words)
  • How was the specific commercial application of the research identified? Summarise any engagement with stakeholders who will benefit from or use the solution, which confirmed that there is a demand for your potential solution i.e. in the case of a medical solution patients, healthcare professionals and potential development partners. (150 words)
  • What is your intellectual property strategy? What types of IP do you have or are you developing and how do they relate to the commercial application? For patents, in which countries have you filed applications, or plan to do so.  Include filing date, number and title of up to 3 patents. (200 words)
  • What are the key competing solutions, what is their developmental status and who is developing them? For your key competitors, describe why your solution will be superior in terms of specific features or benefits and how it compares in terms of cost. (250 words)

The plan & team

  • Outline the key elements of your business model. Who are your potential customers? Do you plan to develop the solution to a specific stage and seek to sell the asset/spinoff, or sell products to an end customer/intermediary and build a sustainable business? (200 words)
  • Please highlight the key strengths of the team that you have assembled thus far and why the team has the skills and experience needed at this stage. What expertise will you have to access in future? (200 words)
  • What industry relevant development stage you have reached. What were the main challenges that the team has encountered and how have you overcome them?  Identify where you aim to be in five years and the most important hurdles to overcome to achieve this beyond accessing funding e.g. technical, commercial or regulatory hurdles. When do you anticipate that a product/service will be launched? (250 words)

The impact

  • Quantify the problem/unmet need in terms of the global burden of the problem in terms of its impact on society, the associated economic cost and the monetary value of the market opportunity i.e. your total addressable market. For example, if you are developing a drug to treat an infectious disease, how many people are infected per annum, what is the associated morbidity and mortality, what is the economic cost to healthcare systems or the wider economy, what is the value of the market for a new drug and what percentage of the global patient population could access your solution if successful? If you do not have access to global data please include country/continent specific information.(250 words)
  • If there are any other applications of the science/technology beyond your first product or service, please describe and quantify the other problems/unmet needs as per above. (200 words)

Terms and conditions for applicants

By applying, applicants agree to the terms and conditions of the award programme.

Key dates

  • Applications: applications are invited between 10th August 2020 and 14th December 2020 23:59pm GMT.
  • Longlist ‘Ones to Watch’: the longlisted spinoffs will be informed under embargo in April 2021 and announced by early July 2021.
  • Shortlist: the shortlisted spinoffs will be informed under embargo in April 2021 and announced by early June 2021.
  • Finalists: 4 finalists will be chosen to proceed to the final stage, at a virtual slam event in late June 2021 and notified shortly afterwards.
  • Winners: the winner will be announced at the Curious 2021 – Future Insight Conference, 12th-14th July 2021.


Please contact us at the if you require any further information.

** subject to feasibility in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic.



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