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The Jenny and Antti Wihuri foundation supports Finnish mental and economic vitality

'The founders of the foundation wanted to give back to the society that had made their success possible,' says Arto Hiltunen, Chair of the Board, alumnus of the School of Business.
Kuvassa Arto Hiltunen ja Arto Mäenmaa istuvat nojatuoleissa Wihurin säätiön tiloissa.
Both the Chair of the Board of the foundation Arto Hiltunen (left) and the Executive Director Arto Mäenmaa are alumni of the School of Business. Photo: Aalto University / Roope Kiviranta.

The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation has been an important supporter of Aalto University since its establishment, and it has donated funds for new professorships and support for Ukrainian students, among other things. Strong support for the School of Business is demonstrated via a significant donation to the professorship of ownership established in 2022 and as grants and project funding granted annually to researchers at the School of Business. 

The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation is an independent and multidisciplinary Finnish foundation of general interest that operates in the fields of science, art and societal activities, as well as their intersections. In 2022, the foundation spent EUR 14.2 million to support these topics. Arto Hiltunen is the Chair of the Board of the foundation and Arto Mäenmaa is the Executive Director. They were both educated at the School of Business.

Kuva on lähikuva Arto Hiltusesta Jenny ja Antti Wihurin säätiön tiloissa Helsingissä.
'The Finnish foundation field is fine and the Wihuri Foundation has a long history behind it. We also look confidently to the future,' Arto Hiltunen says. Photo: Aalto University / Roope Kiviranta

Arto Hiltunen says that Antti Wihuri and his wife Jenny Wihuri founded the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation in 1942 because they wanted to give back to a society that had made their own success possible.

'Antti Wihuri set sail for the first time at the age of 12 and later graduated as a sea captain. Both he and his wife Jenny became successful entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs and business owners they wanted to enable the development of society at a time when Finland had little wealth available for such purposes.'

Even today, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation and other Finnish foundations bring not only continuity but also a multidisciplinary approach and pluralism to the funding system of Finnish science and art. 

'The Finnish foundation field is fine and the Wihuri Foundation has a long history behind it. We also look confidently to the future,' he says.

Kuva on lähikuva Arto Mäenmaasta Jenny ja Antti Wihurin säätiön tiloissa Helsingissä.
'Both entrepreneurship and ownership have been very important in the history of the Wihuri Foundation, and continue to be today', says Arto Mäenmaa. Photo: Aalto University / Roope Kiviranta

Aiming for impact

The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation aims for societal impact from the science and research it funds. However, there is no desire to strictly define the quality or time span of the impact.

'For example, by supporting the assistant professorship in economics established in the Helsinki Graduate School of Economics in the field of data sciences, we wanted to increase competence in the field in Finland and to promote an increase in the number and quality of study places and research in the field. However, supporting the professorship of ownership was important because both entrepreneurship and ownership have been very important in the history of the Wihuri Foundation, and continue to be today,' says Arto Mäenmaa.

'When Aalto University was founded, we considered that by combining three fields, the end result would be more than the sum of its parts, and we wanted to support a unique project like this in the Finnish university field.'

The alumni of the School of Business

Arto Hiltunen and Arto Mäenmaa have fond memories of their time at the School of Business, as well as the skills they acquired during their studies, which have enabled both of them to take interesting career paths. 

'Marketing studies at the School of Business developed my conceptual thinking and information acquisition skills enormously. There wasn't much talk about entrepreneurship when I was a student, but I was able to form an excellent foundation for my career in commerce,' says Arto Hiltunen, who has a long career in management at S Group and now also works as a professional board member and non-fiction writer.

Arto Mäenmaa, who studied accounting, says that he never really left the School of Business.

'After completing my studies, I continued to work as a part-time assistant at the School of Business, in addition to other work. A few years later, I became the head of the Helsinki School of Business Support Foundation and continue to serve as its part-time Executive Director. Both in that role and as the Executive Director of the Wihuri Foundation, I am in a particularly good position to follow high-quality and versatile research carried out at the School of Business,' Mäenmaa says. 

Kuvassa näkyy kaunis neuvotteluhuone Wihurin rahaston Salus-talossa.
Statues of Jenny and Antti Wihuri in the Foundation's beautiful Salus building in Helsinki. Photo: Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.

Mäenmaa sees a bright future for Aalto University, School of Business and Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, but there is one thing that gives him pause. 

'I am a little worried about whether new alumni from the School of Business will continue to be involved in the school's alumni activities to share their experiences, competence and even financial support for future students and researchers,' Mäenmaa says. 

'For myself, the School of Business provided excellent education and life-long friends, and I would like to support its activities both in my work and as an alumnus.'

The School of Business warmly thanks the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Arto Hiltunen and Arto Mäenmaa for all their support!

Further information about the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation: https://wihurinrahasto.fi/  

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