Merck opens office in technology innovation hub

Originally posted on MedCity News

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On a recent tour of the latest addition to University City Science Center’s campus in Philadelphia – an innovation hub in an established building on its campus set to officially open next week — I unexpectedly came across an office belonging to Merck.

It’s all the more interesting because it’s just a few doors down from DreamIt Ventures and its accelerator DreamIt Health, which has a second class of health IT entrepreneurs moving in next week. The Science Center’s own digital health accelerator will also be working in the building.

The Merck office at 3401 Market Street focuses on IT innovation, according to a person familiar with it. Prior to opening an office in the innovation hub, the occupants used to be based at Venturef0rth, a shared workspace in Philadelphia.

It’s an interesting development for Merck since it gives it a front row seat to health IT startups in Philly. The occupants referred me to Merck’s internal communications department, who played down the intrigue in this ho-hum statement from Ian McConnell:

“It’s a small office used by a variety of Merck personnel conducting meetings at the Science Center and with companies/scientists located in the vicinity.”

Still, Merck has been doing some interesting things in health IT. Last year, it set up Merck Medical Information and Innovation or M2i2. It is dedicated to three areas: innovative uses of data to generate ideas about disease and treatments, clinical-facing technologies to improve the quality of care and patient safety, and patient-centered outcomes.

Merck Global Health Innovation Fund backed digital health companies last year that included Medivo and PatientSafe Solutions.