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Fondation Botnar commits CHF 20 million to global research efforts around COVID-19

Fondation Botnar

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Media release

This media release was originally published on 27th March 2020. It was updated on April 20th 2020 to update details related to awarded funding.

Fondation Botnar is committing CHF 20 million to international research efforts to advance the scientific understanding of, and to accelerate the global health response to COVID-19, including the role of digital technologies.

COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March 2020 and has had wide-reaching, profound implications on populations and health systems around the world. In its mission to invest in emerging solutions and to build a better future for young people, Fondation Botnar has approved a CHF 20 million contribution to respond to the ongoing crisis.

The foundation is supporting these efforts through leveraging existing cutting-edge research institutions based in Switzerland to address the rapid spread of the virus and subsequent disease. It is making CHF 15 million available to the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) in Basel, and CHF 5 million to EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

“We are struck by the extraordinary situation we find ourselves in and by the need for a foundation such as ours to make a special commitment to mitigate the long-term impact on the wellbeing of the next generation. Our response is focusing on providing support to already established relations and partnerships, where we know we can quickly deploy funding and where we believe we will see the greatest impact” said Stefan Germann, CEO, Fondation Botnar.

BRCCH has established an emergency research call for projects to address the COVID-19 pandemic and its unprecedented global health challenge. The call aligns with the mandate of the BRCCH to drive the development of innovative and step-changing health solutions for those who are most in need. EPFL will implement pioneering research initiatives focusing on the use of digital technology and data analytics to track and predict the spread of the disease using epidemiological models.

BRCCH Fast Track Call (FTC) for Acute Global Health Challenges

Through the Fast Track Call initiative, the BRCCH is launching an urgent call to contribute solutions to this global health crisis. The overarching goal of the call is to enable research that mitigates COVID-19 related medical challenges in the short-term and that enhances long-term the resilience of healthcare systems to cope with this and similar threats. The call invites researchers from the BRCCH’s four partner institutions, the University of Basel, ETH Zurich, University Children’s Hospital Basel (UKBB) and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), and potential collaborators worldwide to form consortia that will address three critical areas:

  1. Diagnostics for COVID-19
  2. Human Immune Response for COVID-19
  3. Medical interventions and disease management for COVID-19

The call is open until 8 April 2020, 11am CET. More information on the call and application can be found at

“With the Fast Track Call, the BRCCH aims to enable rapid, multidisciplinary collaborations among researchers and clinicians that will lead to immediate actions to address the pandemic. In complement, the supported research projects will aim to have far-reaching implications for the way we as a society are equipped and better prepared for future global health crises.” said Prof Georg Holländer and Prof Sai Reddy, BRCCH Directors.

Real time, digitally driven epidemiology

In addition, Fondation Botnar is awarding CHF 5 million to EPFL for pioneering research programs, including for the development of a digitally scalable contact tracing system* with the long-term goal to support national health systems that have a strong focus on data privacy, GDPR compliance, and interoperability across borders, and for the development of epidemiological models, with an initial focus on the spread of COVID-19 using real-time data integration and artificial intelligence (AI), to further predict pandemic spread.

To respond to the crisis, Fondation Botnar is also working with government partners and existing grantees to provide flexibility and support. More information can be found here.

The press release in German can be downloaded here.


Fondation Botnar
Fondation Botnar is a Swiss-based foundation which champions the use of AI and digital technology to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in growing urban environments. To achieve this, the foundation supports research, catalyses diverse partners, and invests in scalable solutions around the world. Read more:

The Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH)
The Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH) has a clear vision: To establish itself as a Basel-Zurich hub of research excellence dedicated to child health by building a multidisciplinary community of collaborative researchers. Founded in 2019 by the University of Basel and ETH Zurich, the BRCCH brings together complementary expertise from its founding universities, the University Children’s Hospital Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. All partner institutions and the BRCCH are committed to an open access policy of research findings in general, and COVID-19-related research findings in particular.

Press contacts

Fondation Botnar
Kiara Marvuglio
Engagement and Communications Manager
Direct: +41 61 201 04 82
Mobile: +41 76 549 43 48

Maressa Takahashi, PhD
Scientific Officer and Communications Manager
Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH)
University of Basel & ETH Zurich
Direct: +41 61 207 6209

The Future Now.
For Young People

Fondation Botnar
St. Alban-Vorstadt 56
4052 Basel
+41 61 201 04 74