An all-star group of successful internet entrepreneurs sought to reward groundbreaking achievements in the fields of life sciences, mathematics and physics. Yuri Milner, founder of DST Global, and his wife, Julia Milner; Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, and his then-wife, Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe co-founder; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his spouse Priscilla Chan, and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma and his spouse Cathy Zhang joined forces to establish foundations to provide award winners more freedom and opportunity to pursue even greater future accomplishments.

The Goodwin team was responsible for creating the foundations that award the Breakthrough Prizes and structuring nomination and selection procedures in conformance with the rules for 501(c)(3) organizations. Goodwin continues to advise the foundations with respect to governance, tax and operational matters.

The Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences, Mathematics and Physics were established to further breakthrough research, celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career by awarding annual prizes in the fields of life sciences, physics and mathematics. Each winner receives $3 million and an invitation to serve on the selection committee to choose recipients of future prizes. The announcement of the initial Breakthrough Prizes received international attention, in line with the goal of raising public awareness of scientists who have made a significant impact.