Financer Anders Wall: “A very special relationship”

Porträtt på Anders Wall

For many years, financier Anders Wall has shown a great commitment to Uppsala University. Through his foundations, he has funded pioneering genetic research, the Anders Wall Professorship in Entrepreneurship, scholarships for Master’s students and much more besides...

Anders Wall´s relationship with Uppsala University began way back, when he attended the Cathedral School in Uppsala as a teenager. He was a farmer’s son from the village of Giresta who was able to continue his education at grammar school level thanks to the support of a teacher and a clergyman. He earned money to pay for his keep by selling rabbits in the market square in his lunch hour. On his way between the school and the market square, he often passed the University Main Building.

“I used to daydream about getting there some day, and the dream came true. Over the years, I have had a great many personal friends who were researchers and professors at the University.”

Anders Wall himself did not study at Uppsala University. Instead, he studied economics at the Stockholm School of Economics, which led to a career in the various companies owned by the Beijer group, before becoming Managing Director at Kol och Koks (later Beijerinvest). At that point, he was the youngest managing director of a listed company in Sweden. He was later a member of numerous boards, including chairing the board of Sweden’s largest industrial company, Volvo. When he stepped down as chair of Beijer Alma in 2016, he was the oldest chair of a listed company in Sweden.

He now chairs the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation, which supports research and culture, and the Anders Wall Foundation, which sponsors young talents in research, entrepreneurship, rural development and music.

When the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation was established in the 1970s, Anders Wall asked the Vice-Chancellor of the day, Martin Henriksson Holmdahl, if there was any exciting research the foundation could support.

“He recommended genetic research, and I established contact with Ulf Pettersson, Ulf Landegren and Ulf Gyllensten. Those three then formed the heart of the Beijer Laboratory, which attracted many outstanding genetic researchers to Uppsala. It was a fantastic feeling to be among the first people in the world involved in such an important matter.”

Thanks to support from the Kjell and Märta Beijer Foundation, a new chair in artificial intelligence (AI) has also been established, which aims to reinforce, invigorate and advance research in AI and machine learning. In addition, in 2022 the foundation’s fourth Beijer Laboratory at Uppsala University – the Beijer Laboratory for Artificial Intelligence – was inaugurated with a focus on applications of AI in the life sciences and on the societal impact of AI.

Another significant contribution to the University is the professorship in entrepreneurship, which is named after Anders Wall. Stemming from a collection in the business sector in connection with Anders Wall’s seventieth birthday, it was established in 2003 and has been a permanent position at the University ever since.

The foundation’s award “Uppsala Student of the Year” is yet another of Anders Wall’s initiatives. It is presented at the annual celebration of the University’s foundation to a student who has distinguished themself in their studies, student life and entrepreneurial thinking.

“We want to show how entrepreneurship works in practice and that it is not just a matter of luck. Many people are successful, but one mustn’t forget that the road to success is fraught with difficulties and disappointments. I often say that the true entrepreneur is the person who can survive the problems and bounce back.”

When Anders Wall reached the age of 80, a scholarship programme was established for Master’s students from countries outside the EU. Every year around 20 students receive scholarships that cover both their tuition fees and their living expenses at Uppsala University. Just as is the case with his other scholarships, he wants to be involved and support talented young people, contributing resources to enable them to fulfil their dreams – just as he received help once upon a time.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to show my gratitude to the clergyman and teacher who gave me the chance to study once upon a time, to repay them in another guise.”

And that university that Anders Wall passed by as a young grammar school student has ended up being a major and important part of his life.

“For me, this is a very special relationship which is not just about money as such, but also involves a commitment, a desire to contribute to the University in various ways. It’s really tremendously pleasing and stimulating to be involved in creating something that gives so much joy. I am grateful to be able to play a part in progress.”