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Last Updated: Monday, 22 March, 2004, 10:29 GMT
Tycoon funds hunt for alien life
Toy Story alien
Allen's Microsoft millions hunt for aliens
Paul Allen, the co-founder of software titan Microsoft, is ploughing a slice of his fortune into the search for life on other planets.

Mr Allen is donating $13.5m to the California-based Seti Institute.

The money will be used to create a radio telescope array comprising more than 200 dishes which will measure signals from space.

"It will expand our understanding of how the Universe was formed," says Mr Allen, a keen fan of science fiction.

Space exploration has seen renewed interest recently with the Nasa Mars rovers and President George W Bush's outline plans for an ambitious space initiative.

A world of riches

Funding the search for ET is a drop in the ocean for Mr Allen, whose estimated worth is $36bn.

It was Mr Allen who persuaded Bill Gates to drop out of Harvard and join him in creating Microsoft in 1975. He then quit full-time at Microsoft in 1983 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.

But that hasn't stunted his mental and entrepreneurial capacity. His venture capital firm, Vulcan Ventures, has been one of the biggest funders of the internet age.

And Mr Allen has his own ever-growing list of internet and entertainment based start-ups, comprising stakes in more than 140 firms.

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