29 August 2020

“Donations such as this one from the Stig Wadström Foundation make an impact on a university. It will give us room for manoeuvre and open new opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration”, said Vice-Chancellor Jan-Ingvar Jönsson during the ceremony to sign the letter of intent in the Wadström Villa.

Robert Willén tells the story behind the donation.
Chair of the Stig Wadström Foundation Robert Willén gives the background to the donation. Thor Balkhed

A special and long-term donation from the Stig Wadström Foundation will provide annual research funds for Campus Norrköping. The foundation has decided initially to invest in research within exploranation, visual research communication targeted at children and young people. The donation also gives LiU researchers and personnel Robert Willén and Jan-Ingvar Jönsson.Robert Willén and Jan-Ingvar Jönsson. Photo credit Thor Balkhedaccess to the Wadström Villa in central Norrköping.

LiU’s vice-chancellor Jan-Ingvar Jönsson and chair of the Stig Wadström Foundation Robert Willén signed a letter of intent at a ceremony in the Wadström Villa.
“We are deeply grateful for the confidence shown in us, and we will show ourselves worthy”, said Jan-Ingvar Jönsson.

Exploranation Laboratory

Under the auspices of Visualization Center C in Norrköping, an Exploranation Laboratory is currently being established that will not only break new ground in research into teaching methods but also make it possible for children and young people to explore for themselves, with some guidance, everything from the outer reaches of the universe to the inner workings of the human body.

Anders Ynnerman.Professor Anders Ynnerman. Photo credit Thor Balkhed“I now have in my mobile phone as much computing power as in a supercomputer 20 years ago, and increasing amounts of data are becoming freely available. Children and young people are accustomed to visual information, and they can use software in their own computers in school to carry out investigations. They can then come and display the results here in the dome”, said Anders Ynnerman, professor of scientific visualisation and director of Visualization Center C.

A previous donation from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, given in honour of the 60th birthday of its chair, Peter Wallenberg Jr., has made it possible for a guest professor to be associated with the laboratory each year for the coming 10 years.

“These donations together open a great opportunity for us to make up the vanguard in the visualisation of science for a broader audience, not least for children and young people. I’m looking forward to opening the Wadström Exploranation Laboratory next year”, said Anders Ynnerman.

A beautiful conference location

Work is currently under way in the Wadström Villa to install modern conference facilities on the upper floor, while the interior design from the ground floor is pretty much unchanged from the construction of the Photo credit Thor Balkhedproperty in 1930. The textile industry in Norrköping was flourishing, and wool industrialist Arthur Wadström had the villa built for himself and his family.
“Cross-disciplinary research will be in focus for what we are to achieve here, and it’s easy to be creative in such surroundings”, maintained Martin Rantzer, campus manager for Campus Norrköping. The villa lies just 20 minutes’ walk from the campus.

The donation background

For many years, Stig Wadström was one of the richest men in Norrköping, with a fortune based on the Norrköping textile industry and increased through his highly developed commercial acumen. Where the textile industry flourished during the first half of the 20th century, world-leading research is now carried out, research that Stig Wadström desired to support through his will.
Since Stig Wadström’s death in 2018, the fortune has been managed by a foundation, whose goal is to promote research and education. The current capital of the foundation is approximately SEK 150 million.

The letter of intent states that the Stig Wadström Foundation intends to support research at Linköping University with a long-term commitment through recurrent donations. The first donation has been granted to the exploranation research field, while the foundation has also shown considerable interest in research within electronic medicine. Both of these research fields are represented by successful and world-leading research groups on Campus Norrköping.

The Wadström family villa on Södra Promenaden in Norrköping is also available to the university for scientific meetings and other LiU activity.

Photo credit Thor BalkhedThe fortune that forms the basis of the donation was accumulated by Stig Wadström’s father, Arthur Wadström. Together with another of Norrköping’s leading lights, Axel Indebetou, he operated the Wadström & Indebetou wool factory, starting in 1907. Journalist Carin Stenström has carried out extensive research into the family, commissioned by the foundation.

She has shown that from the beginning of the 20th century until the crisis in the textile industry in the 1960s, Norrköping was one of the largest industrial cities in Sweden. Wadström & Indebetou was one of the smaller textile factories, but one of the most profitable. Net sales increased from SEK 150,000 in 1910 to approximately SEK 2 million in 1935, when the company had 200 employees. The factory was located on the corner between Vattugatan and Luntgatan, very close to LiU’s current location, and primarily produced a durable uniform material woven in wool known as “cheviot”.

Portrait of a young Stig WadströmPortrait of a young Stig WadströmStig Wadström, born in 1929, was the only child of Karin and Arthur Wadström. Alex Indebetou had left the company at the beginning of the 1940s, and Arthur Wadström sold the factory in 1947 to a colleague in the industry, when he was in his 70s.
This turned out to be an astute move, because the Swedish textile industry started to decline in the middle of the 1950s, leading to the factory being closed in 1960.

Arthur Wadström died in 1963, leaving a large fortune to his wife Karin and son Stig. Karin Wadström died in the spring of 1985, aged 91 years, and the fortune was wisely managed by Stig Wadström until his death in 2018 aged 89 years.
Stig Wadström died without heirs, and through his will expressed a wish that the fortune should be managed by a foundation with the goal of promoting scientific research and education.

“Stig Wadström had a heartfelt desire that his fortune should benefit Norrköping and Sweden”, declared Robert Willén, chair of the foundation, at the ceremony.

Translated by George Farrants

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