Harvard Receives $50 Million Gift To Fund Life Sciences Entrepreneurship

Harvard has received a $50 million dollar gift for entrepreneurship in the life sciences from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the University announced Monday morning.

The donation will fund the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator, a program designed to find promising biomedicine projects in their early stages and provide them with the resources to develop towards licensing.

The donation will also be used to create the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship Program at Harvard Business School, which will allow students to gain experience with biomedical innovation by working on Accelerator projects.

“By partnering with Harvard’s world-class biomedical research division, I am delighted to help accelerate the development of new therapies,” said Len Blavatnik, a graduate of the Business School who heads the foundation, in a press release. “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.”

The gift comes as a part of Harvard’s multi-billion dollar capital campaign, which is currently in its “quiet phase,” an early stage of soliciting donations before publicly announcing the campaign, which is scheduled to be announced publicly in September. At $50 million, the donation is one of the largest gifts to the University that has been made public in recent years.

In the press release, University President Drew G. Faust emphasized the donation’s potential to improve the commercial viability of biomedical projects that will benefit society at large.

“The Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and the integrated cross-university partnership it enables will advance the next great breakthroughs in biomedical technology, with its roots at Harvard,” Faust said.

The Accelerator will build on a similar existing fund at the Business School, which was also funded in part by the foundation. That fund has supported 37 projects since it was founded in 2007, according to the press release.

—Staff writer Samuel Y. Weinstock can be reached at sweinstock@college.harvard.edu. Follow him on Twitter @syweinstock.

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