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Belgian foundation invests $200 million for new research and teaching hospital in Cuenca

A Belgian foundation has committed $200 million for the construction of a new research hospital in Cuenca. The hospital will be operated by the University of Cuenca medical school in conjunction with European biomedical companies and will be staffed by local and international health professionals.

The old IESS hospital will be torn down to make way for the new project.

According to a brief statement, the Brussels-based Bridgin Foundation said the hospital would be a “one of a kind” project in Latin America,” focusing on the diagnosis and care of chronic diseases and the development and production of new biological drugs. To be called the Cuenca Centro de Innovación de la Salud (Center for Health Innovation), the new facility will be built on the site of the former Social Security (IESS) hospital on Av. Huayna Cápac.

The commitment for the project was signed Thursday and University of Cuenca officials said that a construction schedule will be announced soon.

According to José Valencia, Ecuador Minister of Foreign Relation, the new hospital will make Cuenca an important center for medical and health research in Latin America. “This project will establish a new role in health research and development in Ecuador and the entire region and its practical applications will bring relief and better health to thousands,” he said. “The Bridgin Foundation has also pledged operational funding and the transfer of intellectual property to the project, which will attract the world’s top researchers.”

University of Cuenca President Pablo Vanegas said the hospital will enhance the educational opportunities of medical students. “They will be exposed to cutting-edge research and ideas and will use the knowledge to improve the health of Ecuadorians,” he said.

Vanegas added that, after the tranvia, the investment by Bridgin represents the largest capital investment in Cuenca history.

In its mission statement, the Bridgin Foundation, says it is dedicated to “supporting economic, social and industrial development of the world’s developing countries.” The foundation is funded by European philanthropists and corporations,

According to Vanegas, the signing of the official agreement is the culmination of four years of discussions between Bridgin, the university and the government of Ecuador.

Under plans already developed, the Centro de Innovación de la Salud will occupy 13,099 square meters (141,000 square feet) of space.