Hansjörg Wyss

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Hansjörg Wyss
Lausanne, 2014
Born (1935-09-19) September 19, 1935 (age 79)
Bern, Switzerland
Alma mater Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich[1]
Harvard Business School
Occupation Former CEO of Synthes,[2] Chairman of The Wyss Foundation and The HJW Foundation
Net worth $11.4 billion Green Arrow Up.svg
(January 2015)[3]

Hansjörg Wyss (pronounced HAHNZ-jorg VEES) (born 19 September 1935) is a Swiss entrepreneur and businessman. As of 2015, Wyss ranks #100 on the Forbes list of billionaires, with a net worth of approximately $11.4 billion,[3] making him the second richest person in Switzerland behind Ernesto Bertarelli.[4][5]

Early career[edit]

Wyss was born and raised in Bern, Switzerland. After receiving a Master of Science degree in Civil and Structural Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich in 1959, Wyss attended the Harvard University Graduate School of Business from 1963 to 1965. From 1965 to 1969, he worked in various positions in the textile industry, including plant engineer and project manager for Chrysler in Pakistan, Turkey, and the Philippines.

Synthes USA[edit]

In 1974 Wyss founded "Synthes USA", the US division of Synthes, a firm manufacturing Swiss-designed medical devices for orthopedic and trauma surgery. It became the third industrial partner of AO/ASIF. Synthes USA started marketing Synthes products in the USA the following year and later also in Canada.[6] Wyss later became CEO of the entire company and over the next 30 years built it into an industry giant that specialized in making plates and screws to stabilize broken bones. In June 2012, he sold it to Johnson & Johnson for $20.2 billion in cash and stock.[7]

Environmental protection[edit]

Wyss became actively involved in landscape protection by buying up the mineral rights from the mining companies.[8] In 1998, he established the Wyss Foundation,[9] which establishes and sponsors informal partnerships between non-governmental organisations and the United States administration to place large swathes of land under government protection. On account of these efforts, almost 4,400,000 acres (18,000 km2) of land have been declared national park districts.[10] Wyss serves on the boards of The Wilderness Society, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Rails-to-Trails, and the Grand Canyon Trust, he is one of the founders [11] and is an honorary member of the AO Foundation.[12] Wyss also donated 3.7 million Swiss francs to the Furka Cogwheel Steam Railway, which enabled the organisation to restore the railway line also between Gletsch and Oberwald.[13]

In 2000, Wyss purchased the 900-acre (3.6 km2) Halter Ranch in western Paso Robles, California. In 2004, Forbes ranked Wyss the 26th wealthiest person in Europe with almost $6 billion; by 2005, he rose to 18th place with an accumulated wealth of almost $8 billion.[14] In 2006, Wyss was ranked #72 on The Times list of 100 Richest People in the World.[15]

Support of scientific research[edit]

In 2007, he received the Harvard Business School Alumni Achievement Award,[16][17] and in fall 2008, it was announced that Wyss donated the largest single endowment from one source in Harvard's history when he gave $125 million to found a multidisciplinary institute, the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, at the Harvard University.[5][18][19][20][21][22][23][24]

In 2012-2013, he announce the creation of the Campus Biotech and of its Wyss Center for Bio- and Neuro-engineering in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 2014, he donated $120 million to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich and the University of Zurich for the new Wyss Translational Center Zurich.


  1. ^ Laudatio, Honorary Doctorate of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Basel, Published 2005. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
  2. ^ Fortune Profile
  3. ^ a b "Hansjoerg Wyss". Forbes. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Richest in Switzerland, aneki.com. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  5. ^ a b Wilkinson, Tara Loader. Switzerland's second richest man makes big donation to Harvard, Wealth Bulletin. Published 8 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  6. ^ Synthes Company History
  7. ^ Forbes Profile
  8. ^ Save the planet? Buy it, The Daily Telegraph. Published 16 August 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  9. ^ About the Wyss Foundation
  10. ^ Gerry, Jim. Hansjörg Wyss honored for his philanthropy, AO Foundation. Published March 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  11. ^ The Academic Council, AO Foundation. Retrieved 15 April 2013
  12. ^ Trustees Meeting 2008, AO Foundation. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  13. ^ Furka pass railway celebrates historic milestone, Swisster. 13 August 2010.
  14. ^ Stiles, Jim. Take It or Leave It, Canyon County Zephyr. Published April-May 2006. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  15. ^ The 100 Richest in the World 2006, The Times. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  16. ^ Hansjörg Wyss, MBA 1965, Harvard Business School. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  17. ^ Zobel gets highest alumni award from Harvard, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Published 30 September 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  18. ^ $125 million gift is Harvard's largest, The Record. Published 8 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  19. ^ Alum gives Harvard $125 million, MSNBC. Published 7 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  20. ^ Harvard gets largest ever donation from an individual: $125-million, The Globe and Mail. Published 7 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  21. ^ Chinlund, Christine. Harvard gets $125 million for biological engineering institute, The Boston Globe. Published 7 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  22. ^ Harvard alum donates record $125M, USA Today. Published 7 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  23. ^ Alum gives Harvard $125M for bioengineering center, The Washington Post. Published 7 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  24. ^ Alum gives largest individual gift in Harvard's history: $125M for bioengineering institute, Daily Press. Published 7 October 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.

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