12 May 2023

Alumnus Christer Gilén is deepening his relationship with Linköping University by setting up a new foundation with a capital of SEK five million. He wants to continue incentivising outstanding students and now also boost research at LiU with the aim of finding new applications for technology. 

A person on campus.
LiU alumnus Christer Gilén donates SEK five million to a new foundation aiming to incentivise students and boost technology research. Magnus Johansson

“I want my money to go to something I’m interested in, and to incentivise students,” he says.

Christer Gilén fondly recalls the early 70s, when he was studying for a Master of Science in Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at Linköping. After leaving Östergötland for Stockholm, where he grew up, he spent 43 years in various positions at Ericsson before retiring in December 2021.

His first donation created a ripple effect

In 2019, Christer Gilén made a first donation of SEK 100,000 to LiU’s Jubilee Foundation, and set up scholarships to encourage dissertations and theses that can contribute to applications in industry or the public sector. So far, 12 engineering students have received scholarships for best thesis or master’s dissertation on “Financial governance, organisation and innovation” or “Statistics and machine learning”.

“It was like a trial balloon, I did it to learn how it works and asked LiU for an evaluation. Following the evaluation, I decided to take it further and make the scholarships permanent.” A person on campus. Christer Gilén. Photo credit Magnus Johansson

The evaluation showed that the students who received scholarships appreciated the positive attention far more than the actual money. They particularly appreciated Christer Gilén’s interest in the dissertations and theses selected. Knowing that he, being so committed to this field, has read their work meant a lot to them. Many of them also felt honoured by the attention brought by articles and major exposure on LiU’s website and in social media, and said this would look good on their CVs.

“Coming to Linköping and hearing their thorough presentations has been fun, and I also felt a certain pride. It’s amazing to see how the university has grown and how big LiU has become.”

Deepening the relationship with LiU

Aiming to deepen his relationship with LiU, he has now set up a new foundation, to be managed by LiU. The foundation’s capital base of SEK five million is to promote research and education in his areas of interest.

“I feel good about setting up this foundation. My intention is for the money to be used on maintaining these scholarships, and the return on capital will also be channelled to research projects in the same, or adjacent, research areas that the trustee finds suitable.”

He hopes that his donation will continue to encourage and incentivise students to find new technology applications.

“There are many excellent charities, but I feel that I want to promote things I’m interested in. I’m still very interested in technology, and try to stay updated, mainly in the field of AI.”

Increasing LiU’s attractiveness

Per-Olof Brehmer, deputy vice-chancellor and chair of LiU’s Jubilee Foundation, is very happy that Christer Gilén is deepening his relationship with LiU by making a larger donation through his own foundation.

“It’s a good thing that we have different ways of working with our donors, and the great advantage of the Jubilee Foundation is that we can show that we have a structure that can accommodate different donors, and different wishes and interests. What is most important to us is that the funds donated, in this case by Christer Gilén, will really benefit students and bring them attention and joy,” he says.

Per-Olof Brehmer thinks that the donation will mean a lot to LiU as a higher education institution in the future.

“Our students drive change; they are behind new ideas and new results in our society. A donation like this one makes it possible for us to showcase our students and their skills, and this increases our attractiveness as a higher education institution.

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