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MILAN — Brunello Cucinelli’s range of interests and investments has spanned over the years from fashion to culture, setting up his own theater and school, or restoring landmark monuments and the medieval hamlet of Solomeo. Now his attention has turned to science.

On Wednesday, Cucinelli revealed that he and his family are supporting scientific research through an agreement with TES Pharma and the XGEN Venture fund with the ultimate goal to develop innovative drugs for the treatment of metabolic and oncological diseases.

The commitment is made through Foro delle Arti, Cucinelli’s family project.

After sharing thoughts from philosopher and polymath Pythagoras and Saint Augustine, Cucinelli said he wished “to promote innovation that blends harmoniously with the fundamental values of humanism.”

Riccardo Stefanelli, chief executive officer of the Brunello Cucinelli company, was especially involved in this project and will sit on the board of TES Pharma, to be led by CEO Luca Benatti.

“Science is a noble discipline that has always accompanied the evolution of mankind, placing people at the center and turning knowledge into a fertile breeding ground for the growth of the human being in harmony with creation,” said Cucinelli. “The fascinating research behind all scientific knowledge is the finest lesson we can draw from the history of human knowledge. I see this as consistent with the care-taking culture that has always inspired our company.”

TES Pharma was founded in 2010 by internationally known scientist Roberto Pellicciari — at the time a professor at the University of Perugia, Italy, near Cucinelli’s headquarters in Solomeo. His research achievements include the discovery of obeticholic acid, a 2016 FDA-approved drug for the treatment of primary biliary cholangitis.

Cucinelli bantered with Pellicciari, while expressing his strong admiration and respect, and recounted how the latter lives above the Etruscan Arch in Perugia that Cucinelli helped restore in 2011.  

The company’s name, TES, means “to heal, to treat, to love” in Etruscan, and is a link with the history of the Umbria region. Cucinelli underscored that “discovering and innovating is as important as protecting” and reiterated this is a long-term project. “Please see this as us supporting humanity, not as an investment,” he cautioned, while declining to provide financial details.

“We feel like we are on the edge of important scientific discoveries that could save lives, and through our support with XGEN Venture we can help bring TES to the next level,” said Stefanelli.  

Carolina Cucinelli, Luca Lisandorni, Riccardo Stefanelli, Federica Draghi, Brunello Cucinelli, Roberto Pellicciari, Mark Pruzanski, Paolo Fundarò and Luca Benatti.

“For many years I have had the privilege of guiding TES Pharma and its young, talented and passionate researchers in their efforts to discover drugs for diseases for which there is no cure,” said Pellicciari. “In this tough journey to the frontiers of therapeutic innovation, I have been supported by Brunello Cucinelli and his family, and in particular Riccardo Stefanelli, in an ongoing engagement between scientific and humanistic approaches, actually two sides of the same coin.”

XGEN Venture specializes in the medical-scientific field and was founded by Paolo Fundarò; Federica Draghi, daughter of Italy’s former Prime Minister Mario Draghi, and Daniele Scarinci. The fund was recently launched after their successful experience in Genextra, and supports innovative start-ups in the fields of biotechnology and medical devices, mainly in Italy. It has already invested in five companies in the industry. Fundarò said XGEN Venture raised a capital increase of 10 million euros.