People: Ernesto Bertarelli

Ernesto Bertarelli


Ernesto Bertarelli is a Swiss entrepreneur active in the fields of business, finance, sport and philanthropy. Born in Rome in 1965, his family moved to Switzerland in 1977, where he now lives with his wife Kirsty and their three children. He graduated from Babson College in 1989 and earned an MBA at Harvard Business School in 1993.

The Bertarelli name is most closely associated with the global biotechnology firm Serono, SA, which was grown over the course of three generations of the family. Ernesto was appointed CEO of the company in 1996. Under his leadership, Serono shifted its focus from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology, over the course of the ensuing decade, revenues more than tripled to reach $2.8 billion in 2006. In 2007, Serono was sold to Merck KGaA of Germany.

Ernesto's current business interests include the Waypoint group of asset management and life science investment businesses. Between 2002 and 2009, he served as a board director of UBS AG. He is a member of the Strategic Advisory Board at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and of the Harvard Medical School Board of Fellows. In 2008 he was inducted into Babson College's Academy of Distinguished Entrepreneurs. He was also awarded the Légion d'Honneur by President Jacques Chirac of France and the Cavaliere di Gran Croce by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, President of the Italian Republic.

In 1998 Ernesto and his family established the Bertarelli Foundation to manage their charitable giving and philanthropic projects. The Foundation's focus was initially healthcare and life sciences, but in recent years it has expanded to include a number of other fields, in particular marine conservation, education, culture and sport.

In 2000, Ernesto founded the yachting team Alinghi, which in 2003 defeated Team New Zealand in Auckland to win the America's Cup, the first time a team had ever won the coveted sailing trophy on its first attempt. The victory brought the Cup back to Europe for the first time since 1851. Ernesto himself served as navigator in 2003 and as an afterguard runner and grinder in 2007, when Alinghi defended the America's Cup in Valencia, Spain.