Yuri Milner “70 for 70” Fellowship Initiative Announced

Entrepreneur Yuri Milner, co-founder of the Breakthrough Prize, donated 70 doctoral fellowships in honor of Israel’s 70th Anniversary
07 November 2018
From left: Julia and Yuri Milner; Prof. Joseph Klafter; Prof. Peretz Lavie; Prof. Asher Cohen Photo: Yehonatan Zur

This year, the number 70 has had special significance for Russian-born Israeli entrepreneur, investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner, co-founder of the Breakthrough Prize. A strong believer in the potential of Israeli science and technology, Milner has launched the Yuri Milner “70 for 70” Doctoral Fellowship Initiative – a $7 million gift that will support 70 exceptional PhD students over a period of ten years, in celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary. The Initiative will support PhD candidates in fundamental physics, mathematics and life sciences at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Technion—Israel Institute of Technology. The funds will be administered by Tel Aviv University.


The Initiative was announced at a signing ceremony on the TAU campus in the presence of Mr. Milner and his wife, Julia; TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter; Hebrew University President Prof. Asher Cohen; and Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie. Prof. Klafter thanked Milner for the generous fellowship program. “These fellowships will enable outstanding young scientists to develop innovative research that may lead to global breakthroughs, strengthening Israel’s position in the areas of top science and technology,” he said.  


In endowing the “70 for 70” fellowships, Milner noted that fundamental science and mathematics are among humanity’s highest achievements, and are also essential for the growth of technological progress that our civilization depends on. “Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University and the Technion rank among the world’s most innovative universities, providing an environment in which talented thinkers can reach their potential,” he said.


Yuri Milner founded Mail.ru Group in 1999 and under his leadership it became one of Europe’s leading internet companies. He later founded DST Global to focus on international internet investments. Milner was named as one of the world’s 100 “greatest living business minds” by Forbes last year.


Milner holds an advanced degree in theoretical physics and has conducted research in quantum field theory. Science remains his passion. In 2012, Mr. and Mrs. Milner, together Sergey Brin (Google), Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Facebook), and Anne Wojcicki (23&Me), launched the Breakthrough Prize – the world’s largest scientific awards, honoring important, primarily recent, achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences and mathematics.


In 2015, together with the late Stephen Hawking, Milner launched the $100 million Breakthrough Listen Initiative to reinvigorate the search for intelligent life in the universe and in 2016 the two launched the Breakthrough Starshot, a $100 million research and engineering program to develop the technology for a space probe that could reach another star.


Washington 70 at 70 Dinner


Earlier this year, TAU President Klafter and TAU Vice President for Resource Development Amos Elad attended a festive dinner hosted by Yuri Milner and the Milner Global Foundation in Washington, DC, in the presence of Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer. The evening was held in celebration of 70 years of Israeli science and warm academic ties with US universities and companies.   


“Israel’s scientific journey in seven short decades in nothing short of miraculous,” said Prof. Klafter. “We famously made the desert bloom, but we also made minds bloom. Israeli science is also at the root of “Startup Nation” that everyone knows about, and that fuels the entrepreneurial spirit of TAU, Tel Aviv and Israel.”

Prof. Klafter thanked Milner for the opportunity to mark Israel’s scientific legacy and also its positive and forward-looking mission for the future.




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