Babson College establishes Bertarelli Foundation chair of family entrepreneurship

Photo courtesy of Babson College
Dona Bertarelli (left) and Kerry Healey.

Babson College has announced that the Bertarelli Foundation is funding a new faculty chair, the Bertarelli Foundation Distinguished Professor of Family Entrepreneurship, with a $3 million gift.  

Building on Babson College’s long history educating family entrepreneurs and advancing the study of family entrepreneurship, the chair will lead a multidisciplinary approach to family enterprise, where the family, not the business, is the focus, Babson said in a press release.

The college also announced a new research prize named for Ernesto Bertarelli, a 1989 graduate of Babson, in recognition of his family’s track record in fostering entrepreneurship.


Bertarelli’s grandfather founded Serono, a European pharmaceutical company. Bertarelli became chief executive in 1996. With his sister Dona, he inherited ownership in 1998 on the death of his father. Bertarelli and his family sold the company to Merck KGaA of Germany in a 2007 deal valued at $13.3 billion in US dollars.

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Babson President Kerry Healey commented on the gift in a statement.

“Families are the dominant form of business organization worldwide and they play a leading role in the social and economic wealth creation of communities and countries,” Healey said. “For almost a century, Babson has been at the forefront educating entrepreneurial families and conducting research and programming to help family enterprises achieve continued growth. Thanks to the generosity of the Bertarelli Foundation, we will make even greater strides developing the entrepreneurial mindsets and capabilities that enable business families to think and act more entrepreneurially in all contexts.”

In a separate statement, co-chair Dona Bertarelli of the Bertarelli Foundation added: “Family entrepreneurs face a unique challenge. As their businesses grow or change, they, too, need to adapt and evolve. At the same time, they need to preserve the original and special strengths, passions, and entrepreneurial characteristics of the family as they move in new directions. Through this faculty chair and our partnership with Babson College, we will have the opportunity to study this dynamic and help a new generation of individuals become tomorrow’s family entrepreneurs.”

Chris Reidy can be reached at