Four Finalists of Global Design Competition Highlight Need for Innovative Solutions for Living Better with Multiple Sclerosis

By Merck Serono S A, PRNE
Thursday, October 20, 2011

GENEVA, October 21, 2011 -

  • Company issues international call to action to better serve the multiple sclerosis community

Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced the four finalists of the Real MS: Your Innovation campaign, an international design competition that challenged the multiple sclerosis (MS) community to come up with unique and innovative ideas that could help people overcome the daily challenges of life with MS.

More than 100 members of the MS community from across the globe responded to the call, submitting unique and innovative ideas for gadgets or online applications that could help address some of the challenges of life with MS. After a period of online voting by the MS community, the Your Innovation international judging panel is pleased to announce the four finalists:

  • Sports Walker
    Brian Light, Canada
    A volleyball fanatic, Brian Light wasn’t about to let his MS force him off the court. So he created the Sports Walker, a six legged, eight wheeled walker and harness system that gives someone with poor balance or weakness in their legs the support to stand and maneuver, while keeping their hands free to play the sports they love.
  • Multi-Purpose Cane
    Sherri Crider-Luckieye, United States
    For Sherri, trying to hold both her walking cane and reaching aid at the same time makes staying active difficult. Her idea for a combination of a walking cane and reaching aid in one unit would allow someone with mobility issues like Sherri to both walk and reach for items while only carrying one apparatus.
  • Leg Lifters
    Sue Buck, United States
    Sue is adamant about making sure that her MS doesn’t take away her independence. So when it became difficult for her to lift her legs without help, Sue came up with the idea for Leg Lifters - simple and stylish straps that when buckled just above the knee, offer someone with trouble lifting their legs a grip to help maneuver up and down stairs, in and out of vehicles, and throughout other daily challenges.
  • App for People in Wheelchairs
    Sigrid Richter, Switzerland
    Sigrid has watched people with disabilities struggle in public places her whole life. Her idea for a mobile smart phone application that helps people with disabilities, and MS in particular, find handicap accessible and MS-friendly places such as restaurants, stores, cinemas, parking lots and public transport, is the type of support she thinks people with disabilities deserve.

“As a designer with more than 10 years of experience in healthcare, I am truly inspired by the breadth and creativity of ideas we saw through this competition,” said Axel Unger, a member of the international judging panel and Managing Director with the global innovation firm IDEO in Munich. “The final four ideas represent so many things - the creativity and inspiration of the MS community, the vast unmet needs that people with MS are striving to overcome each day, and the power of listening directly to the MS community in order to come up with effective and informed solutions.”

The four finalists will be featured on the competition’s website,, where the MS community will have the chance to vote for their favorite idea. The winner will spend two days at IDEO’s design studios, where they will work hand-in-hand with the IDEO team to bring their idea to life visually and possibly even in the form of a working prototype that can be shared with the global MS community.

“The four finalists of the Your Innovation competition are true examples of the MS community’s ability to adapt to the disease’s unique challenges in a positive way,” said Belén Garijo, Chief Operating Officer at Merck Serono. “We are encouraged by the inspiring ideas shared by the MS community through this program. We also see this as an important reminder of the unmet needs of people living with MS and our responsibility as global citizens to offer them a more complete range of solutions to live better with the disease.”

To this end, Merck Serono today also announced the formation of the ms&work coalition, a new initiative that will engage other global leaders alongside Merck Serono in an effort to demonstrate the broader societal and individual costs of MS and the corresponding benefits of prolonging the working lives of people living with MS.

For more information on the ms&work coalition, please reference the coalition’s press release. For more information on the Real MS campaign and Your Innovation, or to cast your vote for the winning idea, please visit the campaign website at This site is not intended for use by residents of the United States, United Kingdom and Ireland. United States residents should visit

About Real MS campaign

Real MS is a global education and awareness campaign designed to create a greater understanding of MS and stimulate a more hopeful message around the management of the disease. The first stage of the Real MS campaign was launched in 2010 with Your Story competition, a global script writing competition with the aim of developing a short film that shows how life with MS can be redefined in a positive and fulfilling way. To view the winning short film, please visit

About multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, inflammatory condition of the central nervous system and is the most common, non-traumatic, disabling neurological disease in young adults. It is estimated that approximately two million people have MS worldwide. While symptoms can vary, the most common symptoms of MS include blurred vision, numbness or tingling in the limbs and problems with strength and coordination. The relapsing forms of MS are the most common.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a global pharmaceutical and chemical company. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets prescription medicines of both chemical and biological origin in specialist indications. In the United States and Canada, EMD Serono operates as a separately incorporated affiliate of Merck Serono.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux®, cetuximab), multiple sclerosis (Rebif®, interferon beta-1a), infertility (Gonal-f®, follitropin alfa), endocrine and metabolic disorders (Saizen® and Serostim®, somatropin), (Kuvan®, sapropterin dihydrochloride), (Egrifta®, tesamorelin), as well as cardiometabolic diseases (Glucophage®, metformin), (Concor®, bisoprolol), (Euthyrox®, levothyroxine). Not all products are available in all markets.

With an annual R&D expenditure of over € 1bn, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in rheumatology.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of € 9.3 billion in 2010, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by more than 40,000 employees in 67 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck’s operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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Merck Serono S.A. – Geneva, 9 Chemin des Mines, 1202 Genève, Suisse, Media relations, Tel: +41-22-414-36-00.

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