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Harvard’s Wyss Institute Receives $350 Million Gift

Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss.
Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss. By Courtesy of the Wyss Foundation
By Marina Qu, Crimson Staff Writer

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss gifted Harvard $350 million to support the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, the University announced Thursday.

The donation marks the fourth gift from Wyss, building upon his initial $125 million gift that founded the Institute in 2008 and his subsequent gifts of $125 million in 2013 and $131 million in 2019. Laboratories within the Wyss Institute seek to develop new technologies in healthcare and sustainability, and its Advanced Technology and Business Development teams apply those innovations to the market through startups and corporate partnerships.

Originally from Switzerland, Wyss made his fortune by founding Synthes USA, a medical research and design company. Wyss has also donated to many of Harvard’s schools, including the Harvard Business School, where he helped strengthen the school’s doctoral programs.

The Wyss Institute has developed a number of groundbreaking biomedical technologies, according to its press release, including “high-value therapeutics, diagnostics, medtech materials and devices, and novel sustainability technologies.” Wyss Institute faculty collaborate with researchers from across Harvard schools and work with 12 collaborating academic institutions and hospitals in the Boston-Cambridge area and around the world.

“The Wyss Institute has brought together scientists, clinicians, business innovators, and other visionaries to develop and commercialize technologies that benefit public health and protect our planet,” University Provost and Wyss Institute board chair Alan M. Garber ’76 said in the press release.

Since 2009, Wyss Institute faculty and their research teams have produced almost 4,000 patent filings, more than 100 licensing agreements, and 50 startups.

“Since its founding 13 years ago, the Wyss Institute has been devoted to breaking down silos within and between academia and industry,” University President Lawrence S. Bacow said in the press release.

“That aspiration, expressed passionately and persistently by Hansjörg Wyss, has yielded a unique model of collaborative and cross-disciplinary research, as well as disruptive innovations that are improving and savings lives,” Bacow added.

—Staff writer Marina Qu can be reached at marina.qu@thecrimson. Follow her on Twitter @MingyiQu.

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