The Wyss Zurich Translational Center, run jointly by UZH and ETH Zurich, has existed since 2015. It was made possible thanks to a generous donation of USD 120 million from philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss. Wyss Zurich harnesses the expertise and first-rate infrastructure of both Zurich universities to translate scientific discoveries into applications. Its focus is on clinical therapies, innovative technologies and intelligent systems in the fields of regenerative medicine and robotics.
To put Wyss Zurich Translational Center on a stable long-term footing, UZH and ETH have now established the non-profit Wyss Zurich Foundation. “This step draws a clear line between the foundation, which decides on donations, and the center, which receives the funds,” explains Michael Schaepman, president of UZH and the foundation board. The Wyss Zurich Translational Center will continue to promote translational research and technology transfer into medical applications and innovative products.
The Board of Trustees of the Wyss Zurich Foundation, comprising of a maximum of two members each of the Wyss Foundation USA, UZH and ETH, will decide on the financial contributions to the Wyss Zurich Translational Center, led by co-directors Roland Siegwart (ETH) and Simon P. Hoerstrup (UZH), and to the translational projects. The existing technology platforms in Robotics and Regenerative Medicine will receive support, and projects will be screened and evaluated by scientific experts and an independent evaluation board composed of industry and business leaders, who make a recommendation to the board of trustees.
Over the past six years, the Wyss Zurich Translational Center led by co-directors Roland Siegwart (ETH) and Simon P. Hoerstrup (UZH) has launched several projects and start-ups that have benefited society and improved treatments for patients. For example, the Liver4Life project brought together an international team of researchers from UZH and ETH to develop a perfusion machine that can keep a human liver alive outside the human body for up to one week rather than only a few hours. This makes it possible to examine and even treat donor livers before they’re transplanted into the patients.
Another example is the start-up Wingtra, which was able to establish itself thanks to Wyss Zurich Translational Center. The start-up develops, produces and sells drones that combine the user-friendliness of agile multicopters and the great reach of fixed-wing drones. With distribution partners on five continents and the first VTOL drone equipped with cameras for high-accuracy aerial surveying, Wingtra has grown into a successful international business.
“Both of these projects exemplify how successfully Wyss Zurich Translational Center helps UZH and ETH accelerate translational research and bridge the gap between basic research and application,” says Vanessa Wood, Vice President for Knowledge Transfer and Corporate Relations at ETH Zurich.