Harvard, one of the world’s most respected universities, received a donation of $50 million to expedite the development of medical therapies from basic science discoveries. The gift from Blavatnik Family Foundation will be used to launch a program called Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator at Harvard University to identify promising technologies in medical science and license them to companies.

Harvard University

The gift strengthens Harvard’s commitment to create an entrepreneurial culture in life sciences. Harvard said in a statement that the funds will be used to identify highly promising technologies, boost their value, and prepare them for commercial development and licensing. It comes at a time when researchers are facing a tough time due to cuts in federal funding. Last week, Harvard Medical School announced that it was forced to close its 50-year old primate research facility in Southborough due to economic pressures.

The Cambridge, Massachusets-based institution will also fund a fellowship to give MBA students some experience in life sciences. Educational institutions have increasingly become the center of marketable ideas and products, especially in the medical science industry. According to the Office of Technology Department, Harvard University received $11.5 million in licensing fees last year.

Harvard’s chief technology development officer Isaac Kohlberg said in a statement that some of the most important discoveries that exist today have come from alliances between the life science industry and academia. Len Blavatnik, MBA ’89, has been a long-time supporter of Harvard University. Blavatnik is well known for his investments in areas that connect scientific innovation with business. Through Blavatnik Family Foundation, he earlier supported Harvard’s original Biomedical Accelerator Fund in 2007.

Established in 1636, Harvard is the world’s richest university. Its endowment fund is estimated to have $30.7 billion by the end of June 2012. Len Blavatnik is the chairman and CEO of Access Industries Holdings Inc. He also has an approximately 14 percent stake in LyondellBasell Industries NV (NYSE:LYB). According to Bloomberg, Blavatnik is the 53rd richest man in the world.