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New venture Industrialist donates millions to diabetes centre

Willy Michel, founder of Ypsomed, has donated CHF50 million to the DCB


A new diabetes centre is to be established in Bern this year. The founder of the Ypsomed, which makes injection pens for diabetes, has donated CHF50 million ($52 million) to the venture. The company maintains the centre will be independent.

The donated money will be used in part for research and development of new solutions and therapeutic approaches in diabetes and in part for supporting start-ups conducting research and development around diabetes, according to a statementexternal link released by the Diabetes Centre Berne (DCB)external link foundation.

The centre will cooperate closely with the Bern University Hospital for Diabetology, Endocrinology, Nutritional Medicine & Metabolism (UDEM) and will be located at the Swiss Institute for Translational and Entrepreneurial Medicineexternal link (sitem-insel) on the hospital site.

Sitem-insel, which is currently under construction, focuses on the transfer from research to the clinic and from clinic to the product.

UDEM director Christoph Stettler said in Tuesday’s statement that the cooperation was “a major opportunity” with the Bern location having “tremendous potential for making progress in diabetology”. He hopes to attract colleagues from all over the world to the DCB.

For its part, canton Bern saidexternal link that the new centre would “give a strong signal for the medicine location canton Bern”.

Independence question

Helping to fund the venture – using CHF50 million from private means - is Willy Michel, the board chairman and founder of the Swiss Ypsomed Groupexternal link, a medical technology firm which makes injection pens and insulin pumps for conditions such as diabetes. Also involved is his son, Simon Michel.

A Ypsomed spokesman told the Swiss news agency that the DCB would nevertheless remain independent in its work. But he said that it was possible that Ypsomed might in future get involved in technologies that are developed by the DCB. He stressed that this opportunity was open to everyone via the DCB Investment Fund.

The World Health Organization says that the number of adults living with diabetesexternal link has almost quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults worldwide. Lifestyle factors have fuelled this rise, which is largely on account of type 2 diabetes. Around 500,000 people suffer from diabetes in Switzerland, according to the Swiss Diabetes Associationexternal link. and agencies/ilj

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