The Kavli Foundation and Fred Kavli


The Kavli Foundation is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity. The foundation’s mission is implemented through Kavli research institutes globally and programs that support basic science in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience and theoretical physics; initiatives that strengthen the relationship between science and society; and prizes and awards including the international Kavli Prizes and the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism awards.


The Kavli Foundation was established in December 2000 by Fred Kavli (1927-2013). A Norwegian-American physicist, entrepreneur and philanthropist, he was a champion of science who held the deep conviction that scientific discoveries have positive long-term impact on society.

From Eresfjord to California

Fred Kavli was born in 1927 on a small farm in Eresfjord, Norway – a village nestled in the mountains along the Eira River – where he grew up experiencing “the world at its most magnificent." He was inspired by nature and curious about humankind’s existence—often contemplating some of the biggest questions in life. His interest in science blossomed further while studying physics at the Norwegian Institute of Technology (now known as the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim). Upon completing his studies, he moved to Canada and then the United States, where he founded the Kavlico Corporation in Los Angeles in 1958. Under his leadership, the company would become one of the world's largest suppliers of sensors for aeronautical, automotive, and industrial applications with its products found in such landmark projects as the SR-71 Blackbird and the Space Shuttle. Fred Kavli remained CEO and sole shareholder of the company until it was sold in 2000, after which he established The Kavli Foundation.

One of the early activities of the foundation led to the inauguration of The Kavli Prizes. Fred Kavli believed these prizes to be a great way to honor scientists and recognize outstanding research, while also promoting and celebrating science with the public—inspiring and encouraging their curiosity, support and appreciation of science. 

"The Kavli Prizes are a token of The Kavli Foundation’s enduring commitment to science and to our fuller understanding of human beings, nature and the universe." - Fred Kavli