The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced today the latest gift of $131 million from its founder, entrepreneur and philanthropist Hansjörg Wyss, M.B.A. ’65.
The Wyss Institute seeks to bridge the gap between academia and industry by drawing inspiration from nature’s design principles to solve some of the world’s most complex challenges in health care and the environment and commercializing those solutions to maximize their impact.
“Hansjörg Wyss has helped to expand what we know and what we can accomplish across a wide range of disciplines. The advances that his generosity has enabled will change the future for countless people,” said Harvard University President Larry Bacow. “His third gift to support the work of the Wyss Institute will ensure the continued success of our extraordinarily talented faculty and staff, as well as create new opportunities for collaboration and growth. We are deeply grateful for his support.”
In 2009, Wyss made possible the Institute’s creation with a founding $125 million gift. A second gift to the University in 2013 enabled the Institute to grow and advance its pioneering work. The gift announced today will continue to enable the progress the Institute has made during its initial 10 years, amplify its already significant impact, and sustain its leadership in the field of biologically inspired engineering. Wyss’ giving over many years and across the University amounts to more than $400 million.
“When talented, creative people are given the freedom to work together across disciplines, there are few problems they cannot solve,” said Wyss. “In the last decade, the Wyss Institute has made breakthrough after breakthrough to improve medicine and to apply the latest science to the betterment of peoples’ lives. I am happy to continue my support for the Wyss Institute and Harvard and look forward to seeing what the institute discovers and creates in the years ahead.”
Wyss’ support for the Institute’s unique model — interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists and engineers from disparate fields along with expert staff with industrial experience — has led to sustained productivity in the past decade, including more than 2,600 patent filings, 53 licensing agreements, 29 startups, and numerous industry collaborations. The groundbreaking discoveries, designs, and technologies the institute has produced across a range of areas have a shared potential to improve human health and the environment on a global scale. Included among the breakthroughs Wyss’ gifts have enabled are: