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.

Transformation of Parc de la Garenne begins

In today’s ceremony, a foundation stone was laid in a ceremony to mark the start of the project that will transform and reinvigorate the Parc la Garenne in Le Vaud.

Founded almost 50 years ago by Erwin Meyer, the Garenne park is a much-loved place for families and children to learn about, and interact with, animals and flora native to Switzerland. However, due to its age, it has been in urgent need of regeneration, with facilities requiring an upgrade in order to continue to host both animals and visitors.

An appeal was duly launched and yesterday marked proof of its success, with the project’s first stone laid and sealed by M. le Conseiller d’Etat Philippe Leuba. The Bertarelli Foundation, in partnership with the Oak Foundation, the Mava Foundation and another that wishes to remain anonymous, has financed 40% of the total project, while the regional government and other private donors have also contributed significantly. All told, CHF12.7 million have been raised out of the total cost of CHF14.5 million. Donations from businesses and individuals to meet the gap will now be sought.

Once complete the park will be completely transformed and will cover some 30,000m². New buildings will include a health centre for wild animals in need of care, as well as the facilities to breed endangered flora and fauna. As befitting a place hugely popular with children, the project also places a big emphasis on education and a large, multi-purpose room will facilitate classes, will screen films and will show exhibitions. Throughout, the zoo will be designed with the utmost respect for the animals that it will house, particularly with regards to recreating natural conditions as far as possible.

Dona, Ernesto and Kirsty Bertarelli attended the ceremony on behalf of their family’s Foundation. In her speech at the event, Dona spoke of how they had been one of the many thousands of families to have loved the zoo as children. And so, when they heard about the appeal for funds “we almost immediately said yes, my mother first!” She then spoke of how their only stipulation was that it should be a project with a collective dynamic, all the better to ensure its sustainability, and so expressed thanks to the partner foundations and public bodies who had made it possible.

The work to transform the park should, weather permitting, take about two years, with the opening in early 2016.

Dona Bertarelli’s speech at the event can be read here.


Aldatu Biosciences wins the inaugural Bertarelli Prize at Harvard’s iLab

At the concluding event of the 2014 Dean’s Health & Life Science Challenge, Aldatu Biosciences was selected as the winner of the inaugural Bertarelli Prize – an impressive achievement for a young company with huge potential.

Aldatu Biosciences was founded at the iLab by David Raiser and Iain MacLeod to further their efforts to apply PANDAA (Pan-Degenerate Amplification and Adaptation) technology to the challenge of detecting drug resistant strains of HIV.  PANDAA is a familiar technology to many in the scientific community but Aldatu Bioscience have applied it in a novel way to great effect.

Drug resistance is already a huge problem and Iain McLeod be believes the problem is only getting worse:

“Year on year, both transmitted and acquired resistance to HIV antiretroviral is increasing around the world.  When a Botswana Harvard AIDS Institute study started in 2010, about 4 per cent. of women who were coming into antenatal clinics had resistance. Now it’s up to 10 per cent.”

Aldatu Biosciences are entering an exciting stage of their development and intend to use their prize to help further their existing relationships with health professionals in East Africa where there is urgent need for improved detection of drug resistance.

The Bertarelli Foundation is a keen supporter of entrepreneurs in the life science sector, and especially those that can make practical improvements to the health and well-being of large numbers of people.  Aldatu Biosciences is an excellent example of a young company with big ideas and the drive and desire to make a difference.

The Bertarelli Foundation announces support for Harvard Business School’s iLab

Ernesto Bertarelli, co-Chair of the Bertarelli Foundation, has announced the creation of the Bertarelli Foundation Health and Life Sciences Entrepreneurship Fund with a generous gift to Harvard Business School.

The fund will support activities at the Harvard Innovation Lab (i-lab), which leverages entrepreneurial spirit throughout the University and shows the unlimited possibilities unleashed when individuals from a wide range of fields but with a shared passion are brought together. In particular, the fund will support the Deans’ Health and Life Sciences Challenge, launched in 2012 and chaired by Nitin Nohria, Dean of Harvard Business School and Jeffrey S. Flier, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard Medical School (HMS).

Dean Nohria commented:

“Our Deans’ Challenge was created to accelerate the development of innovative solutions and help position Harvard University as the pre-eminent institution in health care and life sciences. With the generous support of the Bertarelli Foundation, we hope this challenge will inspire innovative solutions to major problems in the world’s health care system by advancing new cures and therapies, developing new ways to apply information technology, and designing new health care systems to deliver affordable health.”

Earlier this year, the Bertarelli Foundation made two additional gifts to Harvard University. Driven by the power of scientific teamwork, the foundation gave $6 million to expand the Bertarelli Program in Translational Neuroscience and Neuroengineering at HMS and EPFL. A second gift of $3 million established the Bertarelli Catalyst Fund for the Dean of HMS, with the goal of enabling key research opportunities at the school.

The Bertarelli Foundation helps to clean up Lake Geneva

Net’Léman, the 6th annual Lake Geneva Cleaning Day, took place this week when enthusiastic volunteers helped to clear the lake of waste and rubbish in an event which was supported by the Bertarelli Foundation.

Despite the rainy weather, hundreds of volunteers and 270 divers cleaned the shores and waters of the lake. Later, they moved on to the task of sorting the waste which is always an interesting part of the day. Among the 10 tons collected from the various locations around the lake, there were some unexpected discoveries:  two safes (empty!) one microwave, three TVs, an old typewriter and even a revolver…!

Net’Léman is always a great occasion for the local community to come together and show their commitment to the preservation of their local environment in a friendly atmosphere.  Children had the opportunity to enjoy the various animations and workshops organised in the nine areas by the side of the lake. This year the main theme was water saving and how uncontrolled waste and pollution can ruin natural resources.