Wyss Zurich receives further CHF 100 million

After seven years of development and consolidation, Hansjörg Wyss is donating an additional CHF 100 million to the Wyss Zurich Translational Center. The center, a joint initiative of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich dedicated to promoting startup projects in the fields of regenerative medicine and robotics, has established itself as a successful model.

Having funded more than 20 projects, some of which have already been successfully brought to market, Wyss Zurich has established itself as a center of innovation. Start-ups based on Wyss Zurich projects include Anybotics, Cutiss, Hylomorph, Seervision, Sevensense or Wingtra. Now it will be receiving another donation of around CHF 100 million from its initiator, Dr. h.c. mult. Hansjörg Wyss, ensuring its operations for another six to eight years.

In 2014, Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss made his first donation (USD 120 million) to ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich with the aim of creating a joint translational center at the interface of medicine, natural sciences and engineering. The Wyss Zurich Translational Center Wyss Zurich began operating in 2015 with its first projects in the fields of regenerative medicine and robotics. In addition to receiving financial support, for example for clinical trials, Wyss Zurich projects gain access to the two universities’ translational technology platforms as well as to a unique network of scientists, clinicians, industry experts and entrepreneurs.

The basic research conducted in Switzerland is among the best in the world, especially in the life sciences and engineering. However, it often takes too long for research findings to be made available for practical application and the benefit of patients. Recognizing this as a major problem, Hansjörg Wyss, patron and founder of the medical technology company Synthes which was sold to Johnson & Johnson for a total purchase price of $19.7 billion, wanted to find a solution. In 2014, with the help of the two founding directors of Wyss Zurich Simon P. Hoerstrup, a physician at the University of Zurich, and Roland Siegwart, a robotics expert at ETH Zurich the idea was born to promote the research conducted at the universities in a way that draws the attention of investors and potential industrial partners and encourages them to bring the products and therapies resulting from that research to the market, thereby contributing to the common good.

With ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and the University Hospital in close proximity to one another, Wyss Zurich offers ideal and globally unique conditions for fulfilling its mission. Michael Schaepman, President, and Elisabeth Stark, Vice President Research of the University of Zurich, as well as Joël Mesot, President, and Vanessa Wood, Vice President for Knowledge Transfer and Corporate Relations of ETH Zurich, are in constant exchange with Wyss Zurich to establish and further expand knowledge transfer. According to Michael Schaepman, "The collaboration between our universities is working very well and it shows us that a collaborative funding model like that of the Wyss Zurich Translational Center is groundbreaking for the future. Together, we can accomplish much more than we can individually."

Thanks to two exceptionally well-equipped technology platforms for regenerative medicine and robotics and highly specialized expertise, it provides outstanding opportunities for young entrepreneurs to work and advance in their fields. In the future, particular emphasis will be placed on “bionic technologies,” a combination of regenerative medicine and robotics to which the existing Wyss Zurich platforms are ideally suited.

Before projects are funded at Wyss Zurich, they undergo a rigorous four-stage approval process during which they are carefully scrutinized by leading scientists in the fields of regenerative medicine and robotics as well as by a panel of independent experts from industry and academia, among others. This is a crucial element in ensuring that the projects achieve the highest possible success rate on their teams’ paths to entrepreneurship. The full list of projects can be found on the Wyss Zurich website.

Gallatin award for Hansjörg Wyss

Wyss Center Zurich is only one of the centers supports by Hansjörg Wyss. More than half a billion Swiss francs have been granted over 10 years to groundbreaking research projects in Switzerland within three different Wyss Centers or Academy in Zurich, Geneva and Bern. This makes the entrepreneur and philanthropist Wyss one of the major private donors for Swiss science. Wyss was celebrated in Geneva on May 17, 2022 as the laureate of the 2022 Gallatin Award of the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce. The laudatio was given by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin.

(Press release / SK)
Picture L-R: Simon P. Hoerstrup, Hansjörg Wyss, Roland Siegwart