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Fridtjov Kavli

Also Known As: "Fred", "Fridtjov"
Birthplace: Eresfjord, Møre og Romsdal, Norge
Death: Died in Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, United States
Place of Burial: Eresfjord, Nesset, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
Immediate Family:

Son of Johan Fredriksen Kavli and Lina Aslaksdotter Kavli
Ex-husband of <private> Kavli
Brother of <private> Kavli; Aslak Kavli and <private> Nilsen (Kavli)

Occupation: Engineer, inventor, Founder of the Kavli Prize
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Fred Kavli

Fred Kavli (born 1927) is a Norwegian and naturalized American physicist, business leader, inventor, and philanthropist. He was born in the village of Eresfjord, Nesset municipality in Møre og Romsdal county, Norway. Today Kavli lives in the city of Santa Barbara, California. He established The Kavli Foundation in the year 2000 to support basic scientific research. He has only recently appeared in the mainstream media for his work, primarily his philanthropic efforts. He is divorced and has two grown children. An avid art collector, Kavli has gathered a large collection of Norwegian oil paintings.



Kavli's life

Kavli grew up on the family farm in the tiny Norwegian village of Eresfjord (pop. 450).

At 14, together with his brother Aslak, he began his first enterprise creating wood pellet fuel for cars. This was during the Second World War and the Nazi occupation of Norway.

Inspired by his father's 13 years in San Francisco the young Kavli wanted to move to the US. Three days after he received his engineering physics degree from the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) in Trondheim he left for America on the SS Stavangerfjord.

Having no job or sponsor waiting for him, his visa application was initially rejected, and 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., Norway 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 [1] in recognition of his work on behalf of Norway and humanity. In 2008, he was also awarded an honorary doctorate, Doctor Honoris Causa, by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, in recognition of his work to the benefit and advancement of science and research.

Kavli Prizes

Kavli is the sponsor of three prizes in the fields of Astrophysics, Neuroscience, and Nanotechnology for scientific achievements through The Kavli Foundation. They are 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.[2] Each prize consists of a scroll, gold medal, and $1,000,000 cash.

Kavli chose to focus on these three areas of interest, "from the biggest, to the smallest, to the most complex", because he thinks these fields are the most exciting scientific fields for the 21st century with potentially great benefits.[3] 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 are also intended to place a stronger emphasis on young people than the Nobel prizes.

The first Kavli Prize winners were announced on May 28, 2008, simultaneously in Oslo and at the opening of the World Science Festival in New York City. The first Kavli Prize for astrophysics was awarded to Maarten Schmidt and Donald Lynden-Bell. Louis E. Brus and Sumio Iijima shared the nanoscience prize, while Pasko Rakic, Thomas Jessell and Sten Grillner were awarded the neuroscience prize.[4] The four US winners of the Kavli Prize were honored by President George W. Bush and Science Advisor, Dr. John Marburger, at an Oval Office reception in the White House on November 12, 2008.[5]

The Kavli Foundation

Main article: The Kavli Foundation

The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

The Foundation's mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

The Kavli Foundation was established in December 2000 by its founder and benefactor, Fred Kavli, a prominent California business leader and noted philanthropist whose foundation is currently actively involved in establishing major research institutes at leading universities and institutions in the United States, Europe and Asia.

The Kavli Foundation has made grants to establish Kavli Institutes on the campuses of the University of California Santa Barbara, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, Yale University, New York University, Cornell University, the University of California San Diego, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Peking University, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Harvard University, University of Cambridge and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. These institutions are the beneficiaries of the Kavli Foundation as on date, and the list is bound to grow in the future.

In addition to the Kavli Institutes, six Kavli professorships have been established: two at University of California Santa Barbara, one at University of California Los Angeles, one at University of California Irvine, one at Columbia University, and one at California Institute of Technology.

A Norwegian-born physicist, Fred Kavli is the founder, former chairman and chief executive officer of Kavlico Corporation in Moorpark, California. At the time the company was sold in 2000, Kavlico was one of the world's largest suppliers of sensors for aeronautics, automotive and industrial applications.

Kavli Institutes

The Kavli Foundation has established research institutes at leading universities worldwide. Consistent with its business-like approach, Kavli requires each partner University to match the average $7.5 million donation. The institutes are not required to focus on any specific subject but are free to do any basic research they see fit.

Three researchers associated with the Kavli institutes have been awarded Nobel prizes: David Gross, Frank Wilczek and Richard Axel.

As of March, 2008, there are 10 institutes in the United States, 2 in China, 1 in the Netherlands, 1 in Norway and 1 in the United Kingdom[1]. According to the Foundation eventually there might be as many 20 centres.

The fifteen Kavli Institutes are:


   * 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 Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge
   * Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University in China


   * Kavli Nanoscience Institute at Caltech
   * Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science
   * Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands
   * Kavli Institute for Bionano Science and Technology at Harvard 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 Systems Neuroscience at the Norwegian Institute of Technology
   * Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale University

Theoretical physics

   * Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara
   * Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics China at the Chinese Academy of Sciences


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.


  1. ^ (Official site)
  2. ^ Kavli Prize official website
  3. ^ Andrew Farrell for Forbes Magazine Online: The Man With The Million-Dollar Prize. May 16, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-05-16.
  4. ^ Kavli Foundation Press Release, May 28, 2008
  5. ^ "President Bush honors U.S. Kavli Prize recipients". Executive Office of the President of the United States/Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington D.C. (Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs). November 17 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2008.


Om Fred Kavli (Norsk)

Fred Kavli (født 1927) var en norsk - amerikansk fysiker, forretningsmann, oppfinner og filantrop.

Han var født i Eresfjord i Nesset, Møre og Romsdal, og døde i Santa Barbara, California. Han etablerte Kavli-stiftelsen i 2000 for å støtte grunnforskning. Han har først i det siste blitt skrevet om i pressen for sitt arbeide, først og fremst for sin virksomhet som filantrop.

Han var skilt og har to voksne barn. Han var en ivrig kunstsamler, og hadde en stor samling av norske oljemalerier.


Biografi fra NBL

Fred Kavli, oppr. Fridtjof Kavli, født 20. august 1927, fødested Eresfjord og Vistdal (nå Nesset), Møre og Romsdal. Fysiker og forretningsmann. Foreldre: Bonde Johan Kavli og Lina Moen. Gift 1956 med Helen Williams (22.8.1936–), datter av David John Williams og hustru Helen, ekteskapet oppløst 1980. Navneendring til Fred 1955.

Den norske ingeniøren Fred Kavli slo seg opp som forretningsmann i USA og endte som milliardær og filantrop, en inkarnasjon av den amerikanske drømmen. Han bygde opp teknologigiganten Kavlico Corporation i California. 2000 solgte han selskapet og har siden arbeidet for å fremme grunnforskning som kan gagne menneskeheten. Som et ledd i denne innsatsen har han blant annet opprettet flere forskningspriser.

Kavli vokste opp sammen med foreldrene og tre søsken på en liten gård i Eresfjord i Møre og Romsdal. Omgitt av det veldige nordvestlandske landskapet begynte Kavli tidlig å gruble over universets og naturens mysterier. Interessen for filosofi og vitenskap modnet gjennom ungdomsårene ved Firda Landsgymnas, der han tok examen artium 1949: “Jeg utviklet mitt livssyn den gangen, og det har ikke forandret seg.” Kavli ble en filantrop med tro på mennesket og et sterkt ønske om å gjøre en innsats for menneskeheten.

Kavli viste allerede som 13-åring stor sans for forretninger. Under den annen verdenskrig lagde og solgte han knott (vedkapp som ble brukt til å fyre gassgeneratorer for bl.a. bildrift). Inntektene herfra finansierte skolegang og studier ved Norges tekniske høgskole i Trondheim. Han forsvarte sin diplomoppgave våren 1955 og ble sivilingeniør i teknisk fysikk. Bare tre dager etter gikk han om bord i S/S Stavangerfjord og satte kursen mot Amerika, slik faren hans også hadde gjort i sin ungdom. Kavli måtte jobbe for Canadian Industries Ltd. i Montreal i ett år før han 1956 fikk visum til USA – mulighetenes land. Der var det stor mangel på ingeniører, og Kavli fikk snart en godt betalt jobb i det lille Los Angeles-baserte firmaet Crescent Engineering and Research, som utviklet sensorer for kontrollsystemene på Atlas-raketter.

Etter bare tre års jobberfaring bestemte Kavli seg 1958 for å starte for seg selv, og han annonserte etter investorer i Los Angeles Times. Overraskende nok fikk han snart flere henvendelser. Dermed gikk han i gang med å bygge opp Kavlico Corporation, som 2000 var en av verdens ledende leverandører av trykksensorer, posisjonssensorer og kraftsensorer til romfartøyer, biler og kommersielle og militære fly.

2005 solgte Kavli firmaet og etablerte stiftelsen Kavli Foundation med hovedsete i Oxnard, California. Formålet med stiftelsen er å fremme grunnforskning til beste for menneskeheten og skape større offentlig forståelse for forskere og det arbeidet de utfører. Kavli Foundation hadde 2005 allerede opprettet 10 forskningsinstitutter i Kavlis navn. 9 av disse finnes ved store universiteter i USA, mens det siste ligger i Nederland. Stiftelsen har i tillegg seks professorater i Kavlis navn, og fra og med 2008 vil tre store forskningspriser bli delt ut av Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi i Oslo. Kavli-prisene, som består av et diplom, en medalje og et beløp på en million dollar, skal deles ut hvert annet år til forskere som har gjort betydningsfulle fremskritt innen kategoriene astrofysikk, nanovitenskap og nevrovitenskap.

Fred Kavli ønsker å støtte grunnforskning som ikke kan anvendes på kort sikt, men som kan gi enorme fordeler i fremtiden. For sin innsats er han bl.a. blitt hedret med innvalg i The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Han håper innsatsen skal inspirere og utdanne folket og vekke interesse for fagene blant unge mennesker både i fødelandet og i hans nye hjemland USA. Kavli uttrykker takknemlighet og hengivenhet overfor landet som tok så godt imot ham: “Jeg kunne ikke, som en utlending og bare tre år etter endt utdanning, ha startet min egen business i noe annet land enn De Forente Stater.”

Kilder og litteratur

   * Intervju med Fred Kavli
   * opplysninger fra Ivar Svare og Roland Wittje ved NTNU
   * Fred Kavlis tale ved annonseringen av Kavliprisene,
   * Kavli Foundations nettsted:
   * D. Overbye: “A Philanthropist of Science Seeks to Be Its Next Nobel”, i New York Times, 19. april 2005
   * S. Lehrman: “He'll pay for that”, i Scientific American, juli 2005
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Fred Kavli's Timeline

August 20, 1927
Eresfjord, Møre og Romsdal, Norge
September 25, 1927
Eresfjord, Nesset, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
November 21, 2013
Age 86
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County, California, United States
December 19, 2013
Age 86
Eresfjord, Nesset, Møre og Romsdal, Norway
Trondheim, Stat/Fylke, Norway