Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, the leading figure in the establishment of İstanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV), was born in İzmir, on 5 January 1913. A dedicated enthusiast and supporter of culture and arts, Eczacıbaşı became acquainted with arts when he started taking private violin lessons during primary school.
After graduating from Robert College of İstanbul, he decided to study chemistry, and went to Germany for his undergraduate studies. In the following years, Eczacıbaşı continued studying chemistry, receiving his master's degree from Chicago University and his PhD from Berlin University. Eczacıbaşı returned to Turkey in 1940s, and founding the Eczacıbaşı Pharmaceutical Factory, he played an important role in the development of pharmaceutical industry in Turkey.
The idea of organising a festival in İstanbul emerged in the mid-60s. In order to realise his dream, Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı worked tenaciously for many years inviting important figures who took part in the organisation of prominent festivals around Europe to İstanbul, and continuing his meetings in both Turkey and abroad, he established contacts with individuals who could prove to be invaluable in realising of such a festival in İstanbul. When Turkey's Ministry of Culture was established in 1971, Eczacıbaşı's enthusiasm about and faith in the possibility of a festival was heightened. Finally, a meeting organised in 1972 laid the foundation of İKSV. Among the principal founders of İKSV, supporting Eczacıbaşı, were businessmen, artists and art enthusiasts, namely; Afif Tektaş, Reşat Aksan, Bülent Tarcan, Aydın Gün, Yıldız Kenter, Prof. Mazhar Şevket İpşiroğlu, Ercüment Berker, Cüneyt Gökçer, Mükerrem Berk, Mehmet Önder, Semih Günver, Cemal Süreya, Kazım Eke, Cengiz Altuğ, Ambassador Muharrem Nuri Birgi and Cevat Memduh Altar.
Following the official establishment of the Foundation, the first İstanbul Festival was also realised in 1973, as part of celebrations of the Turkish Republic's 50th anniversary. While the Festival was widely appraised on both national and international levels, in 1974, the Council of Europe awarded Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, the director of the Festival Aydın Gün, and Head of Cultural Affairs Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Semih Günver with medals, acknowledging the immediate success İKSV achieved among the international art festivals from around the world.
Eczacıbaşı believed that every businessman had a social responsibility of contributing to the advancement of the society, and acting upon this belief, in addition to İKSV, he supported the establishment and continuity of many other foundations, including Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation and İzmir Foundation for Culture, Arts and Education (İKSEV).
Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı, who was committed to the promotion of culture and arts all through his life, is also the author of two books published by Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation Publications; Kuşaktan Kuşağa (Generation to Generation, 1982) in which he gathered his memoirs, and İzlenimler, Umutlar (Experiences and Expectations, 1994), which he completed shortly before he passed away in 1993.