Innovation Cup-winner

12th July 2021

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Wadham’s Jana Terenova and team have won second prize in a global science innovation competition with their novel idea for cancer treatment.  

  • Student team members

    From left to right: Kerry Betz (Stanford University), Jana Terenova (University of Oxford), coach Yelena Wainman (Biopharma consultant, Catenion), Lisa Maria Koch (ETH Zürich), Alessandro Vasciaveo (Columbia University), Sahil Gupta (University of Groningen), Ana Koperniku (Stanford University)

  • Student team members

    From left to right: Lisa Maria Koch (ETH Zürich), Jana Terenova (University of Oxford), Ulrich Betz (Merck Innovation Cup Inventor and Manager), Alessandro Vasciaveo (Columbia University), Ana Koperniku (Stanford University), Kerry Betz (Stanford University), Sahil Gupta (University of Groningen) and our coach Yelena Wainman (Biopharma consultant, Catenion)

Winning a 5000€ cash prize, Jana and her team ‘RNAgile’ were taking part in the MERCK Innovation Cup 2021, a highly competitive event attracting more than 3000 applicants.

The aim of the Cup is to develop ideas for unmet medical need and build a business case with support from experienced professionals. The cup provides a unique opportunity to brainstorm with the brightest students and post-docs with different expertise from all around the world. 

"I am passionate about scientific research and innovation. The MERCK Innovation Cup is a combination of both,” said Jana (DPhil Molecular Cell Biology in Health and Disease, 2019). “I really enjoyed the event and would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in implementing their ideas into a translational project in collaboration with MERCK." 

After two rounds of the selection process, Jana was among only 36 students and post-docs selected into six teams selected from the top world-wide universities. “Each team works to develop innovative ideas for novel treatments, methods and strategies to solve important problems in human health such as cancer treatment or drug discovery etc.” 

Following a week of competition, the teams each present a final innovative idea pitch. 

The first prize winner in this year’s virtual competition won 20 000€ for an idea around molecular glues. Winner and runner-up win cash prizes and their projects are implemented into the novel strategies at MERCK.