The Kavli Foundation and Fred Kavli


The Kavli Foundation, based in Los Angeles, California, is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research and supporting scientists and their work.  

The foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, initiatives and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics, as well as the Kavli Prize and a program in public engagement with science.


The Kavli Foundation was established in December 2000 by Fred Kavli (1927-2013), a Norwegian-American. Fred Kavli was a physicist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist dedicated to supporting research and education for the long-term benefit of humankind.

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.

“I always felt strongly that I wanted to do something of value for mankind." – Fred Kavli