Blavatnik Gives Harvard $50M for Life Sciences Initiatives

Xconomy Boston — 

Businessman and philanthropist Len Blavatnik has donated $50 million to Harvard University to help spur the creation of new, innovative drugs.

Harvard will form two related initiatives with the gift from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, hoping to turn university research into viable business projects that don’t stall because they run out of money.

The first initiative is the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator, which will single out promising early stage technologies, help boost their value, and ultimately prepare them to be licensed or developed commercially by players in the life sciences industry.

The second initiative is the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Sciences Program at Harvard Business School, which will expose MBA students with life science experience to the projects supported by the Biomedical Accelerator.

“By partnering with Harvard’s world-class biomedical research division, I am delighted to help accelerate the development of new therapies,” Blavatnik said in a statement. “Moreover, by increasing the collaborative efforts between Harvard Business School and Harvard’s scientific community, we will empower the next generation of life science entrepreneurs and provide a further catalyst for innovation and research development.”

Blavatnik, who earned an MBA from Harvard in 1989, is the founder and chairman of industrial conglomerate Access Industries. His foundation partly paid for Harvard’s original Biomedical Accelerator Fund, which has financed 37 projects since its debut in 2007. Half of those projects have turned into standalone companies or alliances with pharmaceutical partners.