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Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain Technology
Merck Granted U.S. Patent for novel combination

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Merck, a science and technology company, announced that it has been granted Patent No. US 10,193,695 by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The patent relates to the formation of ‘crypto-objects’, a novel security procedure linking Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology.

“This new patent continues to build on momentum gained through earlier patents. Our heritage in the security materials business makes our company an expert in the sector. Merck is now spearheading the development of blockchain technologies that focus on a combination of physical objects and digital security. This will have implications for all industries that depend on reliable product authenticity, such as safety-critical supply chains in the pharma and food sector.”

Isabel De Paoli, Chief Strategy Officer at Merck

The new technology uses machine learning to link physical objects to a blockchain through their own unique identifiers or ‘fingerprints‘. Any unique feature can be used as a fingerprint, such as a chemical signature, DNA, or image patterns. The patented technology paves the way for established identification processes (for example barcode scanners or mass spectrometry) to be combined with blockchain and machine-learning technologies to provide a novel, integrated security approach and thus certainty and defense to businesses.

To date, Machine-to-Machine readability has been the standard approach to connecting objects to digital supply chain workflows. Now, the new concept covered by Patent No. US 10,193,695 makes Machine-to-Object readability possible by linking AI and blockchain technology. This latest patent follows Patent Nos. US 10,002,362 and US 10,002,277, which include the integration of physical materials into the digital world, the protection of the corresponding hardware and most notably, the enhancement of existing security functions.

The need for enhanced supply chain integrity through new technologies has become increasingly important, as highlighted by a recent report issued by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The World Health Organization estimates that over 50% of medicines purchased on illegal websites are fake. Not only healthcare, but also other industries face similar challenges from the growing counterfeit trade. For example, nearly one in five mobile phones shipped internationally is fake.

The patented technology is being developed by an innovation project in the Merck Innovation Center, which aims to grow ideas into viable new businesses beyond the current scope of the company’s activities. In accordance with a company builder approach, it provides dedicated support, clear governance and decision making in a protected start-up-like environment to efficiently grow and scale innovation projects. By offering such a protected innovation ecosystem, the Innovation Center builds the bridge between the agility of a start-up and the more complex processes of an established corporate group.

Pharmaceuticals

Fabrication and testing capabilities
Intermolecular stockholders approve acquisition by Merck

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Merck, a science and technology company, announced that its proposed transaction with Intermolecular, was approved by the stockholders of Intermolecular at a special meeting held on July 17, 2019. On May 6, 2019, Merck had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Intermolecular through a subsidiary for $1.20 per share in an all cash transaction, representing an equity value of approximately $62 million.

“We are very pleased with this positive development of Intermolecular’s stockholders approving our acquisition proposal. Uniting our existing strength in the materials business with Intermolecular’s unique processes and R&D capabilities will allow us to create game changing innovations in the electronics material space. Together, we expect to provide our customers with an enhanced combination of material and process know-how strengthening our service provider capabilities,” said Kai Beckmann, member of the Executive Board of Merck and CEO of Performance Materials.

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to regulatory clearances and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. Intermolecular is a California-based company leading in advanced materials innovation. Intermolecular possesses application specific materials expertise, accelerated learning and experimentation platforms with powerful analytics infrastructure that perfectly complement the business and technology portfolio of Merck’s Performance Materials business. Intermolecular’s fabrication and testing capabilities allow for material combinations to be tested directly within the specific target application for semiconductors, consumer electronics, aerospace and many other industries. In comparison to conventional methods these capabilities translate to major time reductions in the development process, dramatically accelerated learning cycles and insights into novel material systems to provide customers with a unique service value.

Merck will acquire Intermolecular through its subsidiary EMD Group Holding II.

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Chemicals Fairs Food & Beverage Ingredients & Auxiliary Materials Pharmaceuticals Valves, Pipes & Fittings

Filtech 2019: Trade fair and conference
Filtration and separation technology

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Picture: Filtech Exhibitions
Picture: Filtech Exhibitions

Filter solutions provide are an important cornerstone of hygienic production environments, as required in the pharmaceutical and other process industries. Filter solutions often lead a niche existence at other trade fairs; at Filtech it is just the opposite, here they take center stage. As part of the trade fair, which takes place from 22nd to 24th of October 2019, Cologne will once again become the meeting point of the global filtration and separation industry with users from all relevant sectors. The organizer expects more than 400 exhibitors on 14,000 square meters of exhibition space. Filtech continues to grow – also in terms of visitor numbers.

Filtech 2019 conference

An important part of Filtech 2019 will be the well-established conference; once again presenting the latest advances and techniques in the dust, gas and air filtration. The English-language conference is organized in parallel to the exhibition from the 22nd to the 24th of October. Participants benefit from high-level technology and knowledge transfer and get the opportunity to get to know future trends and perspectives. The Filtech 2019 conference presents more than 200 technical papers, a plenary lecture and several keynote lectures by leading experts as well as plenty of opportunities to network with peers.

Lectures and Keynotes

During the three-day conference, a variety of presentations will be held on the following main topics: solid-liquid separation, solid-gas separation, testing / instrumentation / control, simulation and modeling, membrane processes and product-related processes as well as other special topics .

The conference will be opened by the chairman of the Scientific Committee of Filtech, Dr. Ing. Harald Anlauf, Academic Director of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). He will give a plenary lecture on “Centrifugation – Key Technology for solid/liquid/liquid separation”.

Other noteworthy talks include the four planned keynotes, presented by renowned experts from research and industry. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Haep, CEO of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Technology (IUTA), will hold a lecture on “Air Quality Control & Aerosols”. Prof. Dr. Hermann Nirschl, Head of the Department of Process Engineering of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), presents the question “Digitalization of Centrifuges – Helpful or senseless?”. Dr.-Ing. Götz Bickert, director of the Australian company GBL Process Pty, deals with the topic “Dewatering of Concentrates and Tailings – Large Scale Duties in the Mining Industry”. Prof. Dr. Arunangshu Mukhopadhyay of the National Institute of Technology, Jalandhar, India, will give a lecture on “Enhancing Filter Media Performance during Industrial Gas Filtration”.

Interested parties can register for participation in the conference on the website of Filtech www.filtech.de be performed. Reduced ticket prices for early bird registrations (early bird) apply until 31st July.

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Financing of the planned acquisition
Merck places bonds

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Merck, a science and technology company, today successfully placed bonds amounting to € 2.0 billion. The placement is a component of the financing of the planned acquisition of Versum Materials, which was announced in April 2019.

The placement comprises three tranches: a fixed-rate bond with a maturity of four and a half years amounting to € 600 million and paying a coupon of 0.005%, a second tranche of € 600 million with a maturity of 8 years, paying a coupon of 0.375% as well as a third tranche of € 800 million with a maturity of 12 years, paying a coupon of 0.875%. On June 18, Merck had already placed a euro hybrid bond amounting to € 1.5 billion to finance the planned acquisition.

“Following the successful placement of hybrid bonds two weeks ago, we have made use of the favorable market environment in order to finalize the financing of the planned acquisition of Versum. We’re resolutely pursuing our conservative financial policy further,” said Marcus Kuhnert, Member of the Executive Board and Chief Financial Officer of Merck.

The bonds issued today were significantly oversubscribed and achieved a well-diversified distribution among a wide range of institutional investors such as fund managers, insurance companies, pension funds, and banks. Bookrunners of the transaction were Merck’s relationship banks.

The acquisition of Versum is expected to strengthen the Performance Materials business sector. Versum is a leading supplier of innovation-driven, high-purity process chemicals, gases and equipment for semiconductor manufacturing. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2019, subject to regulatory clearances and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

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