One million USD science prizes set up to recognise society's 'unsung heroes'

May 25, 2005

Brussels, 24 May 2005

The Kavli Foundation, together with the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters and the country's Ministry of Education and Research, has established three new international scientific prizes worth one million USD each.

The Kavli Prizes will be awarded every two years starting in 2008, recognising outstanding scientific and technological research in the three future-oriented disciplines on which the Kavli Foundation focuses: astrophysics, nanosciences and neuroscience. Or: 'From the largest, to the smallest, to the most complex,' according to Fred Kavli, the Norwegian-American philanthropist who established the foundation.

'In our society today we celebrate movie stars and athletes, but some of our greatest unsung heroes are the men and women in science who are doing something that really matters,' said Mr Kavli. 'So I'm hopeful the Kavli Prizes will help to bring science and scientists a little bit of recognition and attention. After all, look at what a great job the Nobel Prizes have done in educating people.'

Mr Kavli himself trained as a Physicist at the Norwegian Institute of Technology before emigrating to the US in 1956. He established a successful business empire producing sensors for the aviation, aerospace and automotive industries, which he sold in 2000 for several hundred million dollars. Much of his time is now spent managing the Kavli Foundation, which to date has donated some 100 million USD to scientific research.

Explaining what motivated him to establish the foundation and the prizes, Mr Kavli states: 'I always felt strongly that I wanted to do something of value for mankind. To start a business and be successful was good. But that was never my ultimate goal.'

Kristin Clemet, Norway's Minister for Education and Research, said: 'We are very pleased that Fred Kavli is choosing to award the research prizes in Norway. This will make a serious contribution to developing professional contacts with the top research communities in the world in the area of astrophysics, nanosciences and neuroscience.'
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CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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