Kavli Prize, $1 million award in nanoscienceKavli Foundation announced in 2005 that it was establishing the KAVLI PRIZES, three $1 million awards to be given in a biennial ceremony in Oslo to scientists in astrophysics, neuroscience and NANOSCIENCE.
Fred Kavli, b. 1927, is a naturalized American physicist, business leader, innovator, and philanthropist. Born in the village of Eresfjord, Nesset municipality in More og Romsdal county, Norway. Today Kavli lives in the city of Oxnard, California, after having sold his life's work he is actively pursuing the establishment of a foundation to further science. This technology entrepreneur turned philanthropist has only recently appeared in media for his work. He is divorced and has two grown children. An avid art collector he has a large collection of Norwegian oil paintings.
Kavli grew up on the family farm in the tiny Norwegian village of Eresfjord (pop. 450). As a young boy he would often go Cross-country skiing alone in the idyllic surroundings of the mountains in his home valley. Gazing at the skies and the northern lights dancing across the sky he would marvel at the wonders of the Universe. He later claims this was his inspiration for seeking out a career in science and engineering.
Already in his early teens while attending Firda Landsgymnas high school in Sandane this entrepreneur had visions of doing something for the good of humanity. A deeply philosophical person he is influenced by his high school studies of Nietzsche, Kant, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner and Dostoyevsky.
Inspired by his fathers 13 years in San Francisco the young Kavli wanted to move to the US. Three days after he received his physics engineering degree from the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) in Trondheim he left for America on the S.S. Stavangerfjord.
Having no job or sponsor waiting for him his visa application was initially rejected so in 1955 he immigrated to Montreal, Canada instead. The following year his visa was approved and he moved to the United States. He found work as an engineer for a Los Angeles business that developed feedback flight controls for Atlas missiles. He would rise to the position of Chief Engineer here.
Looking to start his own business he advertised in the Los Angeles Times newspaper soliciting financial backers with the simple but effective text "Engineer seeking financial backing to start own business".
Two years later he had founded the Kavlico Corporation, located in Moorpark, California. Under his leadership, the company became one of the world's largest suppliers of sensors for aeronautic, automotive, and industrial applications supplying amongst others General Electric and the Ford Motor
Company. In 2000 he sold Kavlico for $345 million to C-Mac Industries Inc. Kavlico is today owned by the French company Schneider Electric. Much of Kavli's wealth is a result of his real estate investments in Southern California.
Kavli has currently donated over 100 million dollars to fund research institutions in the U.S. and the Netherlands. His amassed fortune is worth approximately 600 million dollars.
On June 19, 2006, he was appointed Grand Officer, Commander with Star, of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit by King Harald V of Norway in recognition of his work on behalf of Norway and humanity.
Kavli has decided to sponsor three new prizes in the fields of Astrophysics, Neuroscience, and Nanotechnology for scientific achievements through the Kavli Foundation. They will be awarded by the foundation in cooperation with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, at a ceremony in Oslo every two years beginning in 2008. Each prize will consist of a scroll, medal and $1,000,000 cash. The prizes will have an annual budget of circa $20 million financed by interest on the $400 million in funds Kavli wishes to donate to the foundation.
Kavli chose to focus on these three areas of interest because he thinks they are the most exciting for the coming centuries. He wanted to finance research at an early stage that might not produce tangible results for some time and thus has trouble finding support. The Kavli prizes intend to be
bolder than the Nobel prizes and has a stronger emphasis on young people.
The Kavli Foundation, Oxnard, California, was established in 2000 to support Mr. Kavli's vision and work through an international program of research institutes, prizes, professorships, and symposia.
The foundation is a very business-like organisation with a strong focus on efficiency and human resources. Physicist and engineer David Auston is the current president of the foundation.
The Kavli Foundation has established research institutes at leading universities world-wide. The institutes are the result of the unique business-like approach Kavli decided upon where the partner University is required match the average $7.5 million he donates. The institutes are not required to focus on any specific subject but are free to do any basic research they see fit.
As of November 2006, there are nine institutes in the United States, 2 in China, 1 in the Netherlands, and 1 planned for the United Kingdom. According to the Foundation eventually there might be as many 20 centres.
The twelve Kavli Institutes are the:
- Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara
- Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University
- Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago
- Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech
- Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science
- Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology in Holland
- Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale University
- Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia University
- Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind at the University of California, San Diego
- Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics China at the Chinese Academy of Sciences
- Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in China
- Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard University
The curiosity of the human being is what has brought us where we are today, and I have complete confidence that it will take us where we need to be in the future.
The Kavli Foundation