Billionaire gives Harvard largest ever donation

Switzerland's second-richest man, Hansjörg Wyss, has given Harvard University $125 million (SFr142 million) to create a new biological engineering institute.

This content was published on October 8, 2008 - 08:27

Wyss' gift is the largest individual donation in the university's history. The entrepreneur earned his Master of Business Administration from Harvard in 1965.

The mission of the Hansjörg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering will be to discover the engineering principles that nature uses to build living things, and then use that information to create devices and technologies to meet medical needs.

"We regard this gift as an enormous vote of confidence by a donor who is both extraordinarily generous and extraordinarily knowledgeable in this field," Harvard president Drew Faust said.

The institute will bring together experts from numerous disciplines, including robotics, biology and surgery.

Wyss, self-made billionaire and owner of Swiss-based Synthes medical implants and biomaterials company, has assets totalling $6 billion.

"I am humbled to have the opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to efforts that I firmly believe will change the future course of science and medicine," Wyss said.

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