Successful research does not happen in a vacuum – it needs a lot of money and resources. In addition to governmental funding, generous donors are of central importance for the Swiss research ecosystem. One of the most remarkable philanthropists is certainly Hansjörg Wyss. Host and partner institutions of the two Wyss Centers and the Wyss Academy in Switzerland cannot underline strongly enough how important the donations from Hansjörg Wyss are for Switzerland as a major player for research. Altogether, his donations already exceed CHF 500 million in less than 10 years, which makes him the most generous private donor for the Swiss research and innovation landscape. Last year alone, Hansjörg Wyss committed to donations in the order of CHF 100M each to the Wyss Centers in Geneva and Zurich as well as the Wyss Academy in Bern.
From medicine to robotics
Each of the Wyss Centers or Academy works in close collaboration with prominent Swiss institutions: EPFL, University of Geneva, ETH Zurich, University of Zurich and University of Bern. As of 2022, they sum up to more than 250 high-profile research, implementation and administrative positions that amplify the strength of Swiss science and innovation. Twenty-five companies have already spun out from or with support of these centers, active in fields ranging from robotics to medicine.
“Confidence in science and in the scientists”
“The ongoing commitment of Hansjörg Wyss and his Foundation to support groundbreaking research in Switzerland and elsewhere is more than a gift: it is a strong symbol of confidence in science and in the scientists that make it live on a daily basis,” says Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, in charge of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.
Today, Hansjörg Wyss received the Gallatin Award from the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce for his great commitments to the science landscape in Switzerland. The Gallatin Award celebrates personalities who have performed extraordinary things to bring Switzerland and the USA closer together. The award is named after Albert Gallatin, born in Geneva in 1761, who was the longest-serving US Secretary of Treasury, founder of New York University and the Bank of New York.
Several Wyss-supported projects have been put on display today in Campus Biotech during the official award ceremony. This gave their entrepreneurial scientists a unique opportunity to showcase some of the work supported by funding made available by Hansjörg Wyss to a panel of selected guests, among them Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin – and to Hansjörg Wyss himself.
Wyss Center for Bio- and Neuroengineering (Geneva)
The Wyss Center is an independent, non-profit, research and development organization that advances our understanding of the brain to realize therapies and improve lives.
The Wyss Center staff, together with the Center’s academic, clinical and industrial collaborators, pursue innovations and new approaches in neurobiology, neuroimaging and neurotechnology.
Wyss Center advances reveal unique insights into the mechanisms underlying the dynamics of the brain and the treatment of disease to accelerate the development of devices and therapies for unmet medical needs.
The Wyss Center was established by a generous donation from the Swiss entrepreneur and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss in 2014. Additional resources from funding agencies and other sources help the Wyss Center accelerate its mission.
Wyss Zurich Translational Center
The Wyss Zurich Translational Center is a joint accelerator of ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich with the purpose of promoting outstanding scientific discoveries in the fields of regenerative medicine and robotics as well as their hybrid technologies. Wyss Zurich supports and pursues, in particular, the efficient translation and technology transfer of scientific discoveries into medical applications ("from bench to bedside") and innovative products ("inventions to commercial product") for the benefit and well-being of humanity.
Wyss Academy for Nature (Berne)
The Wyss Academy for Nature at the University of Bern is a place of innovation, where research, business, policymakers and communities come together to co-design solutions for sustainable futures. Combining ambitious, innovative goals with a transformative approach, it was founded to develop innovative long-term pathways that strengthen and reconcile biodiversity conservation, human well-being and the sustainable use of natural resources in a variety of landscapes throughout the world. We co-design and implement concrete projects across a swathe of regions and countries. This global structure facilitates the replication of successes and learning. The Wyss Academy for Nature currently operates Hubs in Central Europe (Bern, Switzerland), Southeast Asia, East Africa and South America.