Billionaires, due to the sizes of their bank accounts, can do just about anything. While some choose selfish pursuits, others choose to use their immense wealth to help others. Among the many places where philanthropic billionaires can place their charitable donations is the pursuit of science. Whether focusing on medical advancements, space exploration or oceanic research, charitable billionaires can make a big impact on the field of science with their donations.
In fact, these donations have helped organizations that would have otherwise not been able to form. According to SmartPlanet, philanthropic billionaires help scientific endeavors get off the ground that wouldn’t have if they relied solely on governmental funding, including the Human Genome Project.
Today, we’re talking about 11 billionaires who like to give to science-based charities and foundations. Some of these money makers already work in scientific fields, and others just see the benefit of scientific advancements.
11. Larry Ellison
Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle Corporation, is the fifth wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $46.1 billion. With that kind of money, he has the potential for some very large charitable donations. Although he’s donated for many different causes, his scientific donations started in 1992 after he shattered his elbow in a bicycle crash. He donated $5 million to start the Lawrence J. Ellison Musculoskeletal Research Center for the surgeon who cared for his elbow after the accident. He also started the Ellison Medical Foundation in 1997 that benefits the world’s biologists, according to the New York Times.
10. T. Denny Sanford
The owner and founder of First Premier Bank, T. Denny Sanford, donates to a wide array of causes. While many of those donations go to various organizations in his home state of Minnesota, some of it has been allocated to scientific pursuits outside of the land of 10,000 lakes. For instance, he pledged $100 million of his $1.3 billion net worth to the University of California, San Diego in 2013 for a new stem cell center, according to Forbes. That same year, he also gave $70 million to the now-named Sanford Underground Research Facility for a physics lab.
9. Gordon Moore
It’s no surprise that Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, would be intent on furthering advancements in science and technology. The Caltech graduate has donated over $850 million to scientific pursuits over the years, according to SmartPlanet. In fact, he spent $200 million for the Thirty Meter Telescope in Hawaii. He and his wife’s charitable foundation, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, has an entire program focused on scientific pursuits. Moore has an estimated net worth of $4 billion.
8. Eric Schmidt
The oceans of Earth are so big, yet so unexplored. Eric Schmidt likely saw this lack of scientific knowledge and wanted to do something about it. The billionaire and executive chairman of Google decided to focus on that subject and spent $100 million to create the Schmidt Ocean Institute. The institute allows scientists to use their research vessels free of charge in order to explore the ocean’s many mysteries, including underwater volcanoes, according to the New York Times. George and his wife also created the Schmidt Transformative Technology Fund in 2009 with a $25 million endowment, awarding grants in technology and science at Princeton.
7. Phil Knight
With a net worth of $22.5 billion, Nike co-founder Phil Knight could spend his money on just about anything. Although most of his charitable donations go predictably to sports (he was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2000 because of all of his donations to Oregon sports), that’s not all he focuses on. According to Forbes, Phil and his wife, Penelope, pledged a $500 million donation in 2013 to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation to go towards cancer research.
6. Eli Broad
Over the years, American entrepreneur Eli Broad has donated $2.6 billion to a wide array of charities. That’s notable since that figure is almost half of his current net worth of $5.8 billion. So where does someone so philanthropic direct his charitable donations? Among other things, a good portion goes toward scientific pursuits. He recently donated $700 million to Harvard and MIT towards the genetic basis of disease, according to the New York Times. Many of his scientific donations go to stem cell research and human genomics, including creating, along with his wife, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at USC.
5. Ronald Perelman
Ronald Perelman has his hand in a lot of business ventures, including photography, groceries, comic books and Revlon cosmetics, earning him a net worth of $14 billion. Although he’s donated to a variety of charities over the years, he’s had a particular focus on cancer. He had a part in creating the Revlon/UCLA Women’s Cancer Research Program to research causes and treatments for ovarian and breast cancer. According to the New York Times, he has donated around $30 million to these scientific pursuits.
4. Paul Allen
Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, didn’t just start Seattle’s Allen Institute of Brain Science, but he has donated $500 million to the organization over the years, according to the New York Times. He also founded the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and donated $30 million in seed money for SETI’s Allen Telescope Array near San Francisco, California. It seems that Bill Gates isn’t the only founder of Microsoft to spend so much of his billions on helping people.
3. Elon Musk
It seems that Elon Musk‘s entire life has been devoted to technology and science. This businessman is the co-founder of PayPal, founder of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Motors. When it comes to philanthropy, he started the Musk Foundation to focus on science education and clean energy, among other things. He has donated $1 million to a Tesla museum project spearheaded by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. He is also a trustee for the X Prize Foundation.
2. Bill Gates
Since he’s pledged to give at least 50% of his wealth to charity, and he has a whopping $80 billion net worth, a charitable contribution from Bill Gates could mean some huge advancements in science. For instance, he’s donated $10 billion over the years for a global public health mission to stamp out illnesses such as polio, malaria and tuberculosis, according to SmartPlanet. Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he focuses on many endeavors, including the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge in 2011 to help combat the health and environmental risks of open defecation in underdeveloped countries.
1. Warren Buffett
Warren Buffett, the famed American investor, is known for his philanthropy in addition to his prowess with investing. He started the billionaire’s Giving Pledge along with Bill Gates and has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth. A large percentage of his charitable donations go to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which spends some of its efforts in the scientific arena. Over the years, he’s also donated to the James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness, among many other foundations.