Founders

About Julia and Yuri Milner

In 2012 Julia and Yuri Milner joined the Giving Pledge of Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates and Warren Buffett, committing to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes, primarily scientific; and they established the Breakthrough Prize Foundation to that end. The same year they joined Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, and Anne Wojcicki, to found the Breakthrough Prize, in order to reward major advances in fundamental research, raise the profile of great scientists, and inspire the next generation with scientific ideas. To bolster the latter aim, in 2015 they added the Breakthrough Junior Challenge, a global competition in which high-school students make short videos about big ideas in science and mathematics. And that same year Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking announced the Breakthrough Initiatives, a set of major research programs in space science focusing on the search for life beyond Earth and developing engineering concepts for interstellar travel.

As well as their work in science, Julia and Yuri Milner have also donated to humanitarian causes, including in recent years both Covid-19 and the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Yuri has always been particularly conscious of the plight of refugees; in addition, his father’s family is from Ukraine, where he spent many summers in his childhood, and the war there has affected him, as well as Julia, deeply. Alongside the funds so far committed to Tech For Refugees, foundations established by Julia and Yuri Milner as well as DST Global, the technology investment company founded by Yuri, have donated $14.5 million to refugees fleeing from Ukraine.

In 2021, Yuri wrote «Eureka Manifesto: the Mission for our Civilization.» In it he set out his belief that humanity needs a shared mission in order to survive and thrive into the far future, and argued that such a mission must have at its heart the exploration and understanding of the Universe.

«We have been devastated by the heartbreaking suffering of the Ukrainian people. We believe that this initiative, in partnership with some of the world’s most creative technology companies and organizations, can provide practical assistance for people living in turmoil outside their homeland.»
— Julia and Yuri Milner