Generous donors

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 Generous donations are helping them to develop their talent: Excellence scholar

Generous donations are helping them to develop their talent: Excellence scholars with Rector Sarah M. Springman at the Meet the Talent donor event in April 2016. (Image: Eline Keller-Sørensen, ETH Zurich Foundation)

The ETH Zurich Foundation has an impressive year to look back on. As detailed in the foundation’s latest annual report, a total of 500 new donors became supporters of ETH Zurich in 2016.

In 2016, 500 new donors were added to the existing 4,400 supporters of the ETH Zurich Foundation. Together, they supported ETH Zurich’s unique projects with gifts amounting to CHF 48 million.

Two aspects of the private individuals among that number stand out: their generous relationship to the university and the age spectrum. The youngest donor was just 22 years old, while the oldest alumni sponsor already celebrated his 105th birthday. Private donors were particularly interested in the promotion of talent and also favoured innovations in teaching.

Foundations and organisations supported ETH Week and the Cybathlon, among other projects. Large business partners were involved mainly in the new ETH strategic initiatives: media technology and information security. They also supported long-term ETH priorities, such as personalised medicine, sustainable construction and global nutrition.

Unrestricted donations, an important funding instrument, made up a pleasing 4% of donations. These provide ETH with funds that it can use freely and according to the urgency of current research topics.

All the funding stories and highlights from 2016 can be found in the ETH Zurich Foundation’s annual report.


Innovations in teaching: donations to the field of teaching have enabled ETH to implement bold projects adapted to the current moment, such as the new Rector’s Impulse Fund and innovative teaching and learning methods. Further information (only in German)

Promoting talent: thanks to funding commitments for the Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme and the Pioneer Fellowship Program , talented Master’s students and young prospective entrepreneurs receive creative freedom and financial support.

Media tech initiative: the support from external partners has allowed ETH to establish a new professorship and a centre for media technology, which will help the Swiss media sector to make the most of technological advances. Further information

Open Lab for information security: the commitment of external partners has enabled the Zurich Information Security and Privacy Center (ZISC) to put the Open Lab into operation. The innovative work environment supports open exchange between ETH researchers and business partners. Further information

New professorship for innovative and industrial construction: support for a new ETH professorship in the field of innovative and industrial construction will contribute to process optimisation along the entire value-added chain in the construction industry. Further information

Methods of food production: two new professorships in the field of sustainable food processing and molecular plant breeding will focus on sustainable processes in food production and food security through the continuous improvement of crop plants. Further information

Collaboration in medicine: in the field of medicine, donations have helped to establish a new professorship in pharmacoepidemiology and the development of a digital biobank for prostate cancer. Further information (only in German)

World’s first Cybathlon: countless private individuals, organisations, foundations and companies contributed with their donations to the successful implementation of this major event, which showed how modern assistance technologies can help people with disabilities in everyday life. Further information

ETH Zurich Foundation


The ETH Zurich Foundation is an independent, private and non-profit organisation with the mission of promoting teaching and research at ETH Zurich. Through its activities, the ETH Zurich Foundation supports ETH Zurich in maintaining and developing its leading international position. The aim is to supplement federal contributions with private financial resources.