Merck Serono Announces Winner of Global Design Competition for Multiple Sclerosis Community

By Merck Serono S A, PRNE
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GENEVA, November 30, 2011 -

  • Winning idea highlights need for innovative solutions for people living with multiple sclerosis

Merck Serono, a division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today announced Brian Light of Toronto, Canada as the overall winner of the “Real MS: Your Innovation campaign, a global design competition that challenged the multiple sclerosis (MS) community to submit unique and innovative ideas to help people overcome the daily challenges of life with MS.

Brian Light’s winning idea, “The Sports Walker,” is 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. The Sports Walker was selected among three other finalists through online voting by the international MS community on the campaign’s website,

A volleyball fanatic for more than 30 years, Light’s ability to play the sport he loved became difficult as his MS symptoms began to limit his ability to walk and maintain balance. “It was clear I couldn’t play volleyball the same way I was accustomed to and I remember a friend coming up to me on the court and suggesting I would probably have to stop playing altogether,” said Brian. “I wasn’t ready to let that happen, so I created the Sports Walker to help me stay in the game and continue doing what I love.”

As the competition winner, Brian will travel to the design studios of IDEO, an award-winning global design and innovation firm, where he will work directly with IDEO designers to evolve and refine his idea, which will be shared with the global MS community in 2012.

“We congratulate Brian on his tremendous idea, and look forward to working with him on the Sports Walker during his design workshop,” said Axel Unger, a member of the international judging panel and Managing Director of IDEO’s Munich office. “Our team of designers will help Brian expand upon his idea that we hope has the potential to truly impact the MS community.”

Your Innovation marks the second and final phase of the Real MS campaign, created by Merck Serono in 2010 to build a greater understanding of MS and stimulate a hopeful message around the management of the disease. The first competition, Your Story, featured a global script-writing competition that resulted in the creation of a short film that shows how life with MS can be redefined in a positive and fulfilling way.

“I cannot think of a more fitting way to complete the Real MS movement than with such a compelling representation of the ingenuity, creativity and innovative spirit of the MS community,” said Belén Garijo, Chief Operating Officer at Merck Serono. “All of the ideas submitted through the Real MS campaign are important reminders not only of the unmet needs of the MS community, but also of our duty as global citizens to do more for people living with MS. At Merck Serono, we are committed to fulfilling this challenge.”

To follow Brian’s design journey or learn more about the Real MS campaign, visit the campaign website at This site is not intended for use by residents of the United States, the 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 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 is a division of Merck.


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

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