- About Len
Sir Leonard Blavatnik is distinguished as a synergistic global investor and one of the world’s most active global philanthropists, renowned for his commitment to advancing education and science.
Born in 1957 in Odessa, Ukraine, from an early age Len’s academic parents instilled in him and his siblings the values of hard work, perseverance and continuous learning. Raised in the Jewish faith, he went on to attend Moscow State University until he emigrated with his family to the United States in 1978.
Len’s journey to become a quintessential American success story began as he earned his master’s degree in computer science from Columbia University in 1981 and received his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1989. He then formed Access Industries in 1986 to make synergistic and transformational investments across a range of industry sectors including natural resources and chemicals, technology ventures, media and telecom, entertainment, real estate, and biotechnology. The privately-held industrial investment group he established more than three decades ago continues to create market and economic value around the world with more than USD $20 billion of capital invested to date.
While Len’s business acumen and highly successful investment approach made him the self-made billionaire he is today, it also makes it possible for him to exclusively self-fund the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The Foundation has contributed in excess of USD $700 million to more than 250 institutions to advance science, higher education, good government, and the arts through meaningful involvement and charitable giving.
The cornerstone of his giving strategy is a belief shaped in his formative years that science and education hold the key to unlocking the vast potential for improving the human condition. With this as his guide, Len has donated more than USD $475 million of his personal wealth to promote innovation in science, engineering, and technology.
One of his most profound achievements in this area is the Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists created in 2007 together with the New York Academy of Sciences. With a distinguished judging panel of Nobel laureates and many of the world’s most esteemed scientists, the award recognizes promising scientists in the early stages of their careers and at a point in scientific discovery when seed funding can most significantly accelerate profound science and health related breakthroughs. More than 250 scientists in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Israel have been supported through this program to date.
Len is an avid supporter of universities distinguished by programs of excellence in the study of international business and government. Foundation donations have included a gift to the University of Oxford to establish a school of government, which bears the Blavatnik name. Blavatnik also created the Blavatnik Fellowship in Life Science Entrepreneurship program at Harvard Business School to provide MBA students with experience in life science entrepreneurship through exposure to biomedical projects at Harvard.
A lifelong patron of the Arts, through the Foundation Len has generously donated more than $140 million to support theater, museums and performing arts centers. The Foundation’s contributions have ranged from $25 million to Carnegie Hall in New York to fund the growth of its artistic, educational and digital initiatives to £50 million to the Tate Modern Museum in London, one of its largest gifts, to generous support of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
He serves on the boards of Tel Aviv University and Carnegie Hall and is a member of the Harvard University Global Advisory Council. He is also 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.
Len holds dual citizenship in the US and UK. He has been a naturalized U.S. citizen for more than 35 years and became a citizen of the UK in 2010.