Len Blavatnik: Industrialist and Philanthropist
Len Blavatnik is a major American and British industrialist with global interests in four sectors: natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, venture capital, and real estate. He is the founder and Chairman of Access Industries, a privately held industrial group through which he controls his holdings. Incorporated in 1986, Access has strategic investments in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and South America.
Mr. Blavatnik, a dual U.S. and U.K. citizen, was raised in Russia and immigrated to the United States with his family in 1978. He became a U.S. citizen in 1984 and a U.K. citizen in 2010. He received his Master’s degree in computer science from Columbia University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Among its other investments, Access owns a significant stake in LyondellBasell Industries (the world’s third-largest independent chemical company with major production facilities in Europe and the United States) and Warner Music Group (a leading global music company). Mr. Blavatnik is a member of the Warner Music Group board.
Mr. Blavatnik is also engaged in numerous educational, scientific, and cultural activities, sitting on the boards of Tel Aviv University, the New York Academy of Sciences, Carnegie Hall, and serving as a member of the Harvard University Global Advisory Council.
An active philanthropist, Mr. Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation have been generous supporters of numerous leading cultural and charity institutions including The National Gallery of Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts and the Prince’s Trust. He is a member of the Board of Governors of The New York Academy of Sciences, and a Trustee of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2007, Mr. Blavatnik created the New York Academy of Sciences Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists to acknowledge the excellence of the most noteworthy young scientists and engineers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In 2013, the Blavatnik Family Foundation expanded the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists throughout the U.S. In 2017, the Awards were further expanded to encompass the U.K. and Israel.
In 2010, Mr. Blavatnik committed over £75 million to establish the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford, which opened in 2012, trains outstanding graduates from across the world in the skills and responsibilities of government.
In 2013, Mr. Blavatnik donated $50 million to Harvard University to launch an innovative initiative to expedite the development of basic science discoveries into breakthrough therapies for patients and cures for disease. The gift also created the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship Program at Harvard Business School to provide M.B.A. students with experience in life science entrepreneurship through exposure to the biomedical projects supported by the Accelerator.
Also, in 2013, Mr. Blavatnik provided a $10 million grant for immunobiology research at Yale University to explore inflammation and chronic disease. The grant supports the work of immunobiologists, Ruslan Medzhitov and Richard Flavell, exploring how inflammation impacts the body’s homeostatic control mechanisms to trigger the onset of disease.
In 2014, Mr. Blavatnik provided a $20 million gift to Tel Aviv University (TAU) to launch the Blavatnik Initiative, a multi-year program committed to the advancement of interdisciplinary scientific research, discovery, and development at TAU. The Initiative allocates funding to launch new TAU programs including: the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery, the Blavatnik Computer Science Research Fund, the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center, the Blavatnik Student Film Production Fund and the Blavatnik President’s Faculty Recruitment Discretionary Fund to recruit talented young researchers in priority areas, including nanoscience, environmental studies, neuroscience and cyber, and in emerging fields, including computational linguistics, information security, and optical imaging.
In 2016, an additional $10 million grant was provided to advance entrepreneurship in the life sciences at Yale University and to expedite the development, application, and commercialization of breakthrough research. The grant supports the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale, designed to bridge the gap between life sciences research and business and to accelerate the commercialization of groundbreaking, investigator-initiated discoveries.
Also in 2016, Mr. Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation donated $25 million to Carnegie Hall to fund the continued growth of the Hall’s artistic, educational, and digital initiatives. A Carnegie Hall trustee since 2014, Mr. Blavatnik has been a major supporter of Carnegie Hall for more than ten years, and a Founding Patron of the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a program created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in 2013.
In 2017, Tate announced that the new building at Tate Modern will be named the Blavatnik Building in recognition of the Blavatnik Family Foundation’s lead donation in excess of GBP50 million. The gift, which was pledged in 2011, is one of the largest ever made in Tate’s history.
In 2018, the Blavatnik Family Foundation provided a $10 million gift to The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University to support doctoral students working at the intersection of engineering and health, promote early-stage research across disciplines, and accelerate the translation of research from the lab to the marketplace by providing seed funding for interdisciplinary and translational research projects.
Mr. Blavatnik was knighted in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to philanthropy.