Businessman Anders Wiklöf: “The plan is to generate a significant expansion of research”

Porträtt på Anders Wiklöf

Thanks to long-term support from businessman Anders Wiklöf from the Åland Islands, Uppsala University has been able to establish a new centre for heart research – the Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research – based on data from large-scale population registers and biobanks.

“In the Nordic region, 30 per cent of the population die from cardiovascular diseases. It shouldn’t be this way. I want to help change this and improve public health,” says Wiklöf.

It is no accident that Anders Wiklöf has chosen to contribute specifically to heart research. His elder brother Lasse Wiklöf died of a heart attack, just 63 years old.

“Lasse meant an enormous amount to me. Despite all my nagging, I never managed to convince him to have his heart checked. When he died I thought, if I can cope with this, I can cope with anything;” Wiklöf says.

Anders Wiklöf grew up in a working-class home in Mariehamn on Åland. His father was a mason and his mother had an eye disease that made her blind and unable to work at an early age.

“Fundamentally, I’m a working-class lad who believes everyone is equal. When I was growing up, we had food on the table and clothes on our back, but that was about it. I had no chance to get an education. I had to start working early. That’s not the sort of thing you forget,” says Wiklöf, who started out as an errand boy.

Today, Councillor of Commerce and Honorary Doctor of Economics Anders Wiklöf is one of the most successful businessmen of his time. Through his group Wiklöf Holding, the largest sole proprietorship in the Nordic region, he now owns more than twenty companies in logistics, hall construction, real estate ownership, trade and tourism. Wiklöf also has one of the best private art collections in the Nordic region, is a major shareholder in the two Åland newspapers and the largest shareholder in the Bank of Åland.

Wiklöf’s donations have now enabled Uppsala University to build up a new centre for heart research, led by cardiologist and Professor of Epidemiology Johan Sundström.

“In terms of our research, Anders Wiklöf’s donations have been absolutely crucial for the establishment and development of this focused, large-scale initiative for research in cardiovascular diseases. My ambition is that in a few years’ time, we will have identified new factors behind heart attacks, and factors that contribute to other cardiovascular diseases, so that we will be able to predict and prevent them in time,” Sundström explains.

Anders Wiklöf is following the research with great interest.

“For me personally, it’s fascinating to have the opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge of this vital area, through Uppsala University’s highly qualified researchers,” says Wiklöf. It’s deeply satisfying to follow the progress of this exciting initiative, which could make a crucial difference in a great many people’s lives. I didn’t manage to get my brother to the doctor in time, but hope this research will help to save hundreds of thousands of people. This is something that I will remain involved in and continue to support for many years to come. The plan is to generate a significant expansion of research.”