Bertarelli Foundation President’s Innovation Challenge Fund at Harvard Business School

The Bertarelli Foundation is pleased to announce that through its gift to Harvard University, the Bertarelli Foundation President’s Innovation Challenge Fund has been established at 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 to 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.

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 are delighted to support the President’s Innovation Challenge Fund, building once again on our existing relationship with Harvard”, said Ernesto 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.”

“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.”

“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.”



Babson College Names William B. Gartner as Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship

Professorship endowed by the Bertarelli family’s Foundation will expand the College’s deep-rooted commitment to family entrepreneurs

Babson College, ranked No. 1 for entrepreneurship, has announced the appointment of William B. Gartner as its first Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship— endowed by the Bertarelli Foundation through a substantial gift to the college.

Building on Babson College’s long history of educating family entrepreneurs and advancing the study of family entrepreneurship, Professor Gartner will lead a multi-disciplinary approach to teaching and studying family entrepreneurship with an emphasis on expanding the entrepreneurial mindset and skillset across generations to ensure family entrepreneurs are equipped to create economic and social value in any context.

Gartner is universally recognized as a thought leader and leading scholar in the area of entrepreneurship, published across a variety of publications including Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, Academy of Management Review, Small Business Economics, Journal of Business Venturing, and many more. He will be a tenured full professor in Babson’s Entrepreneurship Division.

“We are pleased to welcome Professor Gartner as Babson’s first Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship,” said Babson College President Kerry Healey. “For nearly a century, Babson has been at the forefront of educating entrepreneurial families and providing research and programming to help family enterprises achieve continued growth and innovation. Thanks to the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation, Professor Gartner’s globally-recognized thought leadership in entrepreneurship, and Babson’s ongoing investments in this field, we will continue to make great strides in supporting entrepreneurial business families.”

Family businesses were the core of Babson’s founding mission in 1919 and, today, 40 percent of the school’s undergraduate students and 70 percent of full-time MBA students hail from family enterprises. In 2005, Babson was the first to launch a global research study focused on entrepreneurship in families. Through the Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices (STEP) Project, Babson has convened and collaborated with 35 academic affiliates and 175 scholars to publish 11 books and 120 cases focused on family entrepreneurship across generations.

“I am thrilled to be at the No. 1 institution for entrepreneurship in the world, around colleagues who are leaders and pioneers in entrepreneurial research and teaching, and working with students who have a great reputation as creative organizers,” said Gartner. “Family business is an exciting area of entrepreneurship. As Babson’s mission and vision is global, and the college was founded on the principles of family business, I am excited to explore the various ways that families serve as the foundation for entrepreneurial activity all around the world.”

Ernesto Bertarelli said: “In establishing this Chair, our aim is to enable new avenues of research and thought in an area of scholarship that is central to successful entrepreneurship and to how future family business leaders adapt to an ever-changing world. We are delighted that, in Professor Gartner, Babson College has a world class academic who, as the first Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor, will challenge orthodox approaches and build a team to help lead Babson forward in this vital field.”

William B. Gartner

In addition to serving as the Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship at Babson College, Gartner is also a Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at Linnaeus University in Vaxjo, Sweden. He has served in various academic positions at the University of Virginia, Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, Clemson University, San Francisco State University, ESSEC in Paris, and, the Copenhagen Business School. He is the 2005 winner of the Swedish Entrepreneurship Foundation International Award for outstanding contributions to entrepreneurship and small business research. His book: Entrepreneurship as Organizing was recently published in a paperback edition by Edward Elgar. His scholarship has focused on a variety of topics in the entrepreneurship field: entrepreneurial behavior, the social construction of the future, value creation and appropriation, possibility and failure, “translating entrepreneurship” across cultures and countries, the poetics of exchange, and, the demographics of family entrepreneurship. Gartner received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington in 1982.

About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The top-ranked college for entrepreneurship education, Babson is a dynamic living and learning laboratory where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society. We prepare the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to make a difference in the world, and have an impact on organizations of all sizes and types. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.

A conversation with Giffin Daughtridge, winner of the 2017 Bertarelli Prize

Giffin Daughtridge, MD is the co-founder and CEO of UrSure, a venture he started with Dr. Helen Koenig at Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, and winner of the 2017 Bertarelli Prize.  Giffin kindly made time to let us know how the iLab and the Bertarelli Prize have helped him achieve his goal of reducing the spread of HIV.

How is UrSure tackling the spread of HIV?

We’re developing tests that let doctors monitor whether their patients are adhering to their PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) regimens. Whilst PrEP only requires a single oral dose per day to be 99% effective at preventing HIV, studies have shown that over the course of a year, adherence to even simple drug regimens can fall to as low as 20 to 50%.  Until recently the only way for clinicians to determine adherence of their patients to PrEP was through self-reporting – a notoriously un-reliable method.

Why is it important to know whether patients are taking their PrEP Medication?

Missing doses can seriously reduce the protection provided to the patient and could lead them to contract HIV.  It’s important for clinicians – and patients – to know that they are protected from infection.

UrSure is developing two tests which will give clinicians an accurate assessment of their patients’ adherence.  The first is a lab-based urine test which provides a quantitative indication of the level of PrEP medication in the patient’s system.  Whilst this is an important tool, it does not give an immediate result.  It also requires the patient to meet with their clinician on another occasion to discuss their test results.  For some patients with chaotic or busy lifestyles, this is a huge hurdle.

We were keen therefore to develop a cheaper test which gives an immediate, albeit binary, result.  We are developing a ‘point-of-care’ urine dip-test, similar to a pregnancy test, which tells clinicians whether their patient is taking their medication.

How did you realise there was need to develop this new test?

I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 and went to Colombia on a Fulbright research scholarship. While there, I started a vaccination clinic for sex workers.  After a year I moved back to the US and met Dr. Helen Koenig, an infectious disease physician, who was starting a PrEP clinic in Philadelphia, PA.  In our clinic, we realised very quickly that we didn’t know with any confidence whether our patients were taking their medication – in fact, one of our patients contracted HIV, something which would not have happened if he were taking his medication as prescribed.

Helen and I started to think about how this test might be administered.  We didn’t want to develop another blood test for this group of patients and instead decided to see if a patient-friendly urine test might be the way forward.

In 2015 we incorporated UrSure Inc. in order to allow us to apply for a Small Business Innovation Research grant and to other funding streams.  I quickly realised that in order for UrSure to be a success I couldn’t run the company and complete my residency – so I decided to work on UrSure on a full-time basis after graduating medical and policy school.

How has winning the Bertarelli Prize helped UrSure develop?

For Helen and I it has been a game-changer by helping us accelerate the development of our products.  The prize of $75,000 USD, along with other prizes and funding we’ve been able to secure since, will help us develop our point-of-care test and overcome legal and regulatory hurdles that exist to new products entering the marketplace.

But the iLab Challenge is about more than just the prize fund.  Harvard’s iLab provides an incredible place to learn and develop a complete business plan.  When I started in October 2015, I had no idea how to start a company, I knew nothing about business, how to scale-up or how to create a financial model – but the great thing is, the iLab has plenty of people who do.  I sincerely believe that UrSure wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for the entire iLab ecosystem – the facilities, the Challenge and the Bertarelli Prize.

What’s next for UrSure?

Now that our clinical test has been validated, we’re working with commercial laboratories to have doctors, patients and insurance companies start using the test.  Ultimately, we want to scale up so we are providing tests for as many PrEP patients as possible – there are over 100,000 in the US alone.

We’re continuing to develop our Point of Care urine test and we hope to have that ready for our clinical trials by 2018.

2017 Stoke Literary Festival

The fourth Stoke-on-Trent Literary Festival, co-sponsored by the Bertarelli Foundation, took place from 8-10 June 2017 at the Emma Bridgewater factory in the city and was, as with the previous editions, an enormous success. Over the course of the three days, more than 2,500 people took part in discussions from renowned authors and literary figures, with subjects ranging from talks about great lives, history, heritage, to the environment, literary heroes, politicise, entertainment and family fun.

Opening the Festival Emma Bridgewater and Matthew Rice presented three young people with specially designed trophies for their successful winning entries in the Stoke High schools Creative Writing Competition, before the launch event and opening headliner, Sir Tim Smit, visionary creator of the Eden Project.

Sir Tim was followed by Festival trustee and Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum Tristram Hunt, who shared behind the scenes secrets from the museum’s outstanding collections, after whom Loyd Grossman (president of the Arts Society and the Royal Parks) was fascinating on the value of heritage in a post-truth world. Guests were then treated to a brilliant, funny and musical evening from comedian Alexander Armstrong who rounded off the day one with a tremendous blues rendition on piano.

The Festival Friday was a day of illuminating specialist talks with world experts in their field. Former UK Government speech writer and journalist Julian Glover held a special event with pupils and students from across Stoke-on-Trent at the VIth Form College about following careers in journalism and politics, while back at the venue he discussed his biography of Britain’s greatest engineer Thomas Telford. Later on in the day, former Government Chancellor Ed Balls was grilled about topics including political and family life by former Fleet street journalist Anne Robinson, as well as his high-profile dancing.

The final day of the Festival was a Family day, which started with with a packed magazine making session for children, followed by a theatrical storytellings of popular stories and a chance for local children to meet author Susan Moore. In the afternoon, BBC Radio 4’s Charlotte Green was a gfreat hit, with her tales of broadcasting life, while friends of the Factory Sue Perkins and Anna Richardson spent much of the afternoon chatting with delighted visitors in the factory café before their sell out event, which was the hit of the Festival. Britain’s busiest political editor Michael Crick then provided forensic analysis of the recent UK election result and political situation.

The 2017 Literary Festival was a huge success and the Bertarelli Foundation would like to thank those very many people who worked so hard to make it so. It is a fitting annual event for Stoke-on-Trent, particularly as the city bid to become the UK City of Culture 2021.


UrSure Inc. win the 2017 Bertarelli Prize at Harvard University’s iLab

For the last several years, the Bertarelli Foundation has proudly sponsored Harvard University’s Innovation Lab.  More specifically, we have provided the Bertarelli Prize, which is awarded to the winner of the ‘Health & Life Science Track’ in the annual President’s Innovation Challenge.

The Innovation Challenge supports Harvard students on their journey to turn their desire for a better world into a sustainable venture. This year’s finalists responded to the desperate need for innovation within the health and life sciences industry, as well as solve social issues (equitability, sustainability and safety), and also innovate in other areas that transcend the Challenge categories.

This year, more than 200 student teams applied to participate in the Innovation Challenge with the finalists being selected by a committee of more than 150 judges with a wide array of industry experiences.

In March, five finalists were selected for the 2017 Bertarelli Prize:

  • Day Zero Diagnostics combines genome sequencing and machine learning to modernise infectious disease diagnosis.
  • GEMS Samaritan Stations has developed a smart devices that reduces emergency response time by turning bystanders into first responders when every second counts.
  • Jane Diagnostics has produced an innovative, low-cost, accurate, rapid, and easy-to-use HPV diagnostic chip for early detection of cervical cancer.
  • Nanoshear has created a nanotechnology-based liquid embolic agent for immediate haemorrhage control in vascular injuries and bleeding patients.
  • UrSure Inc. prevents HIV by focusing on protecting vulnerable populations from infection.

Given the exceptional quality of all the finalists, it was a very difficult decision for the prize judges to select the winners; ultimately however, UrSure Inc. was awarded the Bertarelli Prize of $75,000 and Jane Diagnostics were awarded the runner-up prize of $25,000.

The team behind UrSure are no strangers to the Bertarelli Prize, having participated in the competition in 2016.  In the year which followed, Giffin Daughtridge and Helen Koenig were able to refine both their product and their business plan and ultimately impress the prize judges.

Ernesto Bertarelli commented:

I’d like to congratulate all the finalists and entrants for the Bertarelli Prize.  I’m confident that by taking part in the Challenge over the last year, you will have refined your business ideas and embraced the entrepreneurial spirit which is so important if you are to succeed in your ambition.

I’m delighted that Giffin and Helen of UrSure Inc. have been able to develop such an important medical tool which shows great promise in helping to reduce HIV infection.  I will watch the development of their company very carefully.

UrSure’s CEO and founder Giffin Daughtridge, commented:

Winning the Bertarelli Prize is an absolute game-changer for us.  We had enough funding to get through the next couple of months, but this will help us accelerate our timeline.


Aldatu Biosciences is helping to overcome HIV drug resistance

After winning the Bertarelli Prize in 2014, Aldatu Biosciences has continued developing their PANDAA technology which aims to improve HIV patient care by detecting antiretroviral drug resistance.  Since then, others have also recognised Aldatu’s potential and they were awarded the Verizon Powerful Answers Award and in 2015 awarded a Direct-to-Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant for approximately $1,500,000 over two years.

Co-founders, David Raiser and Iain MacLeod, travelled to Botswana to meet researchers at the Harvard AIDS Institute.  We went with them to find out how the Bertarelli Prize helped their businesses grow and how their technology might help HIV patients ensure they are receiving the correct treatment.

Herald win the 2016 Bertarelli Prize at Harvard’s iLab

Each year, the Harvard i-lab holds the Deans’ Health & Life Sciences Challenge to encourage cross-disciplinary innovation and to solve some of the world’s toughest health problems.

The year’s five finalists were selected to present their business ideas at the i-lab Demo Day on Wednesday, 4th May, and compete in the final stage of the competition for the Bertarelli Prize.

Herald, whose healthcare software offers clinicians real-time access to clinical data, won the Bertarelli prize of $30,000 and the chance to incubate their idea in the Harvard i-lab through the summer. The company’s chief executive, Brad Diephuis, is an MD/MBA candidate, a dual degree that prepares graduates for a career in healthcare management and finance.

Pykus Therapeutics, a new company which makes a dissolvable device that doctors inject into a patient’s eye to make retinal surgery less painful, was selected as the Challenge’s first-runner up. They received $25,000 prize and summertime access to the i-lab incubator.

LuminOva takes great strides tackling infertility

In 2015, LuminOva, a biotech start-up company based in Boston MA., won the Bertarelli Prize at Harvard University’s iLab.  The prize is awarded annually as part of the Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge which encourages nascent businesses to develop and grow towards commercialisation.

Whilst many businesses enter the Challenge each year and benefit from the mentoring, workshops and judging process, only one can win the Bertarelli Prize.  Providing a welcome stamp approval, the Prize also comes with a substantial financial award which catapults the businesses forward and helps them to overcome barriers and hurdles to their success.

LuminOva is developing a new technology which could help infertile couples select the best embryos for IVF treatment.  Whilst still undergoing clinical trials, winning the Bertarelli Prize has accelerated  the development of the company and will hopefully bring their product to market more quickly – and in so doing, help people achieve their dream of becoming parents.

The finalists for the 2016 Bertarelli Prize are announced by Harvard’s iLab

The 2016 Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge at Harvard’s iLab is nearing its final stages as the finalists for this year’s competition have been announced.  From over 60 applicants, five student-led teams have been selected, one of which will be awarded the Bertarelli Prize on May 4th.

This year’s finalists are:

  • Antera produces an all-natural solution formulated to safely reduce the risk of peanut allergy development in infants.
  • Buoy creates a simple and safe way to understand your symptoms, answer questions about your illness, and get an assessment of possible causes.
  • Herald makes healthcare safer by offering clinicians real-time access to clinical data exactly when and how they want it.
  • Pykus Therapeutics develops a dissolvable intraocular device to make retinal surgery less painful and more successful.
  • Searna Technologies provides uniquely sensitive and affordable molecular diagnostics for the non-invasive detection of cancer.

The Bertarelli Foundation is delighted to support the iLab and the Deans’ Challenge; since its inception in 2014, over 100 nascent student-led teams have been mentored towards commercialising their business ideas in the health and life science sector.

The previous winners have already had a huge impact in improving human health around the world.  Aldatu Biosciences, the 2014 winners, have developed a diagnostic test for HIV drug resistance which is being trialed in Botswana, a country with an historically very high prevalence of drug-resistance.  And LuminOva, the 2015 winners, are commercialising a method of detecting the viability of human embryos to increase the probability of successful invitro-fertilisation.

LuminOva wins the 2015 Bertarelli Prize with their groundbreaking IVF tool

The culmination of the academic year at Harvard University’s iLab is the awarding of the Bertarelli Prize to the winner of the Dean’s Health and Life Sciences Challenge.  This year it was the turn of LuminOva to walk away with the prestigious award and a cheque for $40,000.

LuminOva was formed to address the problem of infertility which affects 15 per cent. of couple around the world and the relatively low success rates of current IVF treatment.  LuminOva’s technology is non-invasive diagnostic techniques which is able to  assess eggs and embryos in terms of the quality and viability.  LuminOva’s technology measures fluorescence signals and from that derives the metabolic state of embryos.  This means that clinicians will then be able to select only the very best embryos for implantation.  The result of this is not only increased success rates, but also a reduction in the number of multiple pregnancies, an often unwanted

Alexandra Dickson explained the origins of LuminOva and why they are so committed to making progress with their technology:

“What makes us so passionate at LuminOva is that we see a field where there hasn’t been much innovation taking place, things haven’t changed that much in the industry and we really feel that a simple technology like ours can really make a huge impact.”

LuminOva intends to use their prize to engage with regulatory attorneys to help the company develop their road-map to market.  They hope that very soon they will be able to move their technology from the laboratory and into the clinic so they can begin impacting the lives of patients.

Creative Youth Minds launches at North Staffordshire’s YMCA

The Bertarelli Foundation is delighted to be working with YMCA North Staffordshire (YMCANS) on a project called Creative Youth Minds. Over the course of a year creative workshops at the YMCA’s campus – all led by local artists – will help young people to develop new skills, showcase hidden talents and create opportunities for their future. At the workshops the young people will have the chance to work with textiles, learn about photography, express themselves through drama, create beautiful ceramics, and produce shorts films.

A resource and training fund has also been created to support young people in developing careers in the creative industries, while the Foundation is also offering young people at YMCANS the opportunity to take part in overseas work and development through an international bursary.  Kirsty Bertarelli, talking about the new partnership, said:

 “I was lucky enough to visit YMCA North Staffs last year and was inspired by the young people I met – inspired by their energy, enthusiasm and imagination. I’m thrilled that Creative Youth Minds will help them to continue to unlock their huge potential.”

Danny Flynn, the YMCA’s Chief Executive, said:

“We share a passion for this city and its fantastic young people. We also share a view that given the right opportunities and challenges, young people from this city can be world changers.

“This city has a great heritage of creativity – its brilliant people continue to send products around the world. Our shared vision is to unlock the amazing, latent talent of young people and send them out into the world.  We want to thank Kirsty for her leadership, passion and heart for the young people of this city and beyond.”

The Bertarelli Foundation Chair of Family Entrepreneurship is announced at Babson College

The Bertarelli Foundation has funded a new faculty chair at Babson College in Massachusetts with a $3 million gift. The Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship will lead a “multidisciplinary approach to family enterprise, where the family, not the business, is the focus.”

The gift agreement, signed by Dona Bertarelli and Babson President Kerry Healey, was made at the 2014 Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference in London, Ontario, where more than 400 leading academics and doctoral researchers gathered.

Also announced at the conference is a new research prize, named for Ernesto Bertarelli (who graduated from Babson in 1989) in “recognition of his family’s track record in fostering entrepreneurship.” The Bertarelli Prize will reward $2,500 to best family entrepreneurship paper presented at the conference.

“Family entrepreneurs face a unique challenge,” said Dona Bertarelli . “As their businesses grow or change, they, too, need to adapt and evolve. At the same time, they need to preserve the original and special strengths, passions, and entrepreneurial characteristics of the family as they move in new directions. Through this faculty chair and our partnership with Babson College, we will have the opportunity to study this dynamic and help a new generation of individuals become tomorrow’s family entrepreneurs.”

Babson President Kerry Healey said: “Families are the dominant form of business organization worldwide and they play a leading role in the social and economic wealth creation of communities and countries,” Healey said. “For almost a century, Babson has been at the forefront educating entrepreneurial families and conducting research and programming to help family enterprises achieve continued growth. Thanks to the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation, we will make even greater strides developing the entrepreneurial mindsets and capabilities that enable business families to think and act more entrepreneurially in all contexts.”

Family entrepreneurship has been at the core of Babson College from its founding. The institute that later became Babson College was established to educate the sons of businessmen to join their fathers’ businesses. Babson’s vast experience with family businesses includes nearly a century of teaching, research, and programming for students, alumni, and friends of the College. As part of its Institute for Family Entrepreneurship, Babson is a founding member of the Successful Transgenerational Entrepreneurship Practices (STEP) project, a global applied research initiative exploring the entrepreneurial process within business families and generating solutions that have immediate application for family leaders.