31 Oct 2017

Bertarelli Foundation Gift Names President’s Challenge Fund


BOSTON—Harvard University has announced that the Bertarelli Foundation of Switzerland, Ernesto Bertarelli (MBA 1993), has established the Bertarelli Foundation President’s Innovation Challenge Fund with a generous gift to Harvard Business School.

Established in 2012, the President’s Innovation Challenge was established to encourage members of the Harvard community to engage with issues facing the world and spark the creative development of solutions that will address vexing social, medical, and scientific problems. In 2017, more than 200 student teams from across Harvard University competed in the Challenge.

“Whether it’s the development of safe and affordable surgical kits that are easily transportable to places in need of medical resources, a venture working to accelerate advances in artificial intelligence, or the scores of other projects that have been part of the President’s Innovation Challenge, the program has helped unleash the entrepreneurial and creative spirit of the Harvard community,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “Making progress toward solutions to global problems requires new thinking that transcends boundaries and disciplines, and we are very grateful to the Bertarelli Foundation for the vision and generosity they have shown in their support of this community of innovators dedicated to that task.”

In 2013, the Bertarelli Foundation funded the Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge at the Harvard i-lab. This new commitment to the President’s Innovation Challenge Fund will extend the Bertarelli Foundation’s generosity to a broader range of early stage ventures and enable creative ideas to flourish at Harvard and beyond. In recognition of this new gift, the winners of the President’s Innovation Challenge will be awarded Bertarelli Foundation Prizes each year for the next five years.

“We see countless examples of the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship in finding solutions to society’s most intractable challenges,” said Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria. “The Bertarelli Foundation’s generous gift will fuel the entrepreneurial spirit that exists across the University by ensuring that students have the resources to bring their game-changing ideas to fruition.”

Ernesto Bertarelli, who along with other members of his family founded the Bertarelli Foundation in 1998, is an entrepreneur who has had a successful career in business, finance, competitive sailing and philanthropy. He is the former CEO of Serono SA (formerly known Ares-Serono), a family-controlled global pharmaceuticals and biotechnology leader whose roots date back to 1906 and that his family managed for three generations. In 2007, Serono was purchased by Merck KGaA. The company was subsequently known as Merck Serono SA. Since the sale of Serono, Bertarelli has focused on a number of private investment and nonprofit roles, notably Waypoint Capital, the business enterprise for the funds and investments associated with his family. One of the businesses of which Waypoint is comprised is Gurnet Point Capital, a health care and life sciences fund recently established and based in Boston. In December 2012, Bertarelli announced a joint venture, Campus Biotech, a research and technology center based in Geneva and focused on health, biotechnology, and life sciences.

“We are delighted to support the President’s Innovation Challenge Fund, building once again on our existing relationship with Harvard”, said Mr. Bertarelli. “Our aim is to help Harvard find and support the next generation of entrepreneurs with bold ideas and the commitment to see those become reality. With the support of the remarkable community of teachers and innovators at the School, I am confident this Fund will continue to help fuse the scientific vision and the passion for business that Harvard inspires amongst its students.”

Bertarelli has been active at both HBS and Harvard Medical School (HMS). At HBS, he has served as a member of the Board of Dean's Advisors. He has been a member of the HMS Board of Fellows since 2002 and served on the HMS Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology (BCMP) Council from 2000-2003. He is a member of the Strategic Advisory Board at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

The Bertarelli Foundation focuses its philanthropic support in the life sciences and marine conservation, helping to establish some of the world's largest marine reserve in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In addition, the Bertarelli Foundation has made previous gifts to HMS to establish and expand the Bertarelli Program in Translational Neuroscience and Neuroengineering—a partnership between HMS and EPFL—and to establish the Bertarelli Catalyst Fund for the Dean of HMS.


Brian Kenny

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.