Founders

Alexander Chikunov

Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and humanitarian

Alexander was born and raised in the USSR. In 1985 he received a degree in Economics from Novosibirsk State University (NSU) and for the next five years worked as a researcher at the Economic Institute and as a lecturer at NSU.

In 1992, after the Soviet Union collapse, Alexander founded a stock-brokerage company called Research. Investments. Finance in Novosibirsk. In 1994, he became a member of the first board of directors for the Russian Trading System – similar to what the NASDAQ system is in the U.S. During privatization, he participated in the reorganization of all business processes of many formerly government-owned enterprises – from the river-shipping and aviation industry to the manufacturers of heavy machinery. He taught the leaders of companies how to do market research, prepare business plans, conduct mergers and acquisitions, organize IPOs, and all of the other activities a company needs to be able to transition from being government-run to market-oriented. He learned these processes himself from international experts, consultants, and short-term training programs, and passed his knowledge on to help existing government-owned enterprises.

By the beginning of 2000, the Russian stock market was organized and enterprises were mostly privatized. At that time, the entire electricity sector was in the process of reform. Looking for new opportunities, Alexander began working under Anatoly Chubais for the largest electricity and heat company in Russia, the Unified Energy System (UES). The UES controlled 90% of the electricity assets in the country. As a part of the reform, the company was unbundled into 20 new inter-regional generation companies, one transmission (or National Grid), seven distribution holding companies and over 60 supply companies. New spot whole-sale market and the electricity exchange (trading system) were also created at that time.

From 2005, until the end of the reform in 2008, Alexander worked as the Executive Director of the UES and managed 14 of the new generation companies and 38 of the new supply companies. Combined, these companies had over 200,000 employees and annual sales of $20 billion. Under his management, 14 SPOs (secondary public offerings) for the new companies were organized and $14 billion in private investments were raised. He also worked on creating an extensive plan to construct new power plants that would reinforce the existing infrastructure that had not been expanded in almost 40 years.

In 2008 the energy reform was complete. At that time Alexander had a profound realization. He realized that he needed to find his own way to make a positive contribution to the world and to make the future of humanity better. In 2009 he founded Longevicaan organization that sponsors projects aimed at improving the future of humanity. Over time the main focus of Longevica became an understanding of the mechanism of aging, because the belief that slowing down the process of aging can bring enormous benefits to all people, much more than finding treatments for diseases. Longevica financed four scientists with different approaches (an anti-oxidant, a genomic, a telomerase, and a pharmacological approach). The most successful has been the last, proposed by Alexey Ryazanov,  Ph.D., D.Sc., Professor of Pharmacology at Rutgers  University (formerly UMDNJ). 

During this work, Alexander saw that there are great scientists with great ideas who can bring breakthroughs in medicine and aging. Often, they can't find grants, venture capital, or even a "business angel" because these ideas are very unusual and very early-stage. So in 2011 Alexander and Alexey founded Princeton Institute of Life Sciences in Princeton, New Jersey, through which they hope to secure financing for the best ideas from the best scientists.

Alexander’s mission to try to make the world a better place also led him to a lot of books, reports, and forecasts for the next 30-50 years. In 2010, he became concerned after reading the book Human Quality by Aurelio Peccei followed by Limits to Growth: The 30-year Update by Donella and Dennis Meadows  (et al). These books show how dramatic growth in population and consumption during the last century has led to an increase in CO2 emissions, pollution, and the depletion of many nonrenewable resources such as fresh water and fossil fuels. These trends are showing no signs of stopping and global catastrophe is becoming inevitable. Understanding how to change this outcome and how to ensure that our future would be as good as it can become an important goal for him.

After a meeting with Dennis Meadows in spring 2011, Alexander co-founded the Institute of World Ideas (IWI) to become a bridge between the world of scientists and the world of decision-makers. IWI’s second goal was to promote these ideas in Russia, where sustainability ideas can often be unpopular. In 2011 he was invited to be a member of the Balaton Groupa 30-year-old international think-tank of mainly scientists. He also was invited to the Editorial board of the journal Solutions. In 2011-12 IWI invited several scientists to Moscow for detailed discussions, public lectures, and interviews with the Russian mass media. Alexander also initiated the Russian translation of five insightful and important books by the top world experts on a topic of global trends and sustainability.

Focused on his question -- How can we avoid global catastrophe? -- Alexander spent two years in deep research. After that in 2012 he started writing a book which explains what we can do in the face of these threats on a practical level. The book is expected to be published in 2017. And he is looking for opportunities to create or participate in initiatives and teams who are trying to make practical steps in this directions.


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