A family foundation headed by a Harvard Business School alumnus has donated $50 million to launch an initiative designed to speed the development of early-stage scientific discoveries into patient therapies and cures for diseases, Harvard announced earlier this week. The gift also will fund a new fellowship in life sciences entrepreneurship.
The Blavatnik Family Foundation, headed by Len Blavatnik (HBS MBA ’89), provided the generous gift, which will establish the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship Program at HBS.
The Accelerator’s primary purpose will be to identify promising early-stage technologies and prepare them for licensing to companies and commercial development. It expands upon the success of the University’s first Biomedical Accelerator Fund, established five years ago by Isaac T. Kohlberg, the University’s senior associate provost and chief technology officer, and funded in part by the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The original Accelerator Fund has supported 37 projects, half of which are already advancing through alliances with biopharmaceutical partners or the creation of new companies. The expanded Accelerator program will focus particularly on therapeutic opportunities, Harvard reports.
“The Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator will enhance the value proposition of early-stage technologies and expedite the flow of Harvard inventions through key developmental milestones and into the marketplace,” Kohlberg said in a statement.
The new fellowship, meanwhile, will provide HBS MBA students with experience in life science entrepreneurship by exposing them to the biomedical projects supported by the accelerator. HBS Dean Nitin Nohria expects it to expand Harvard’s commitment to innovative research and entrepreneurship. “With student interest in entrepreneurship at an all-time high, and with the resources of the university’s Innovation Lab and HBS’s Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at the ready, we are well positioned to make the most of this generous gift,” he said in a statement.
HBS alumnus Len Blavatnik is chairman and founder of Access Industries Holdings and also owns 14 percent of LyondellBasell Industries, the world’s largest producer of polypropylene, according to Bloomberg News. In a statement, he expressed his excitement at helping accelerate the development of new therapies by partnering with Harvard’s world-class biomedical research division. “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,” he added.