History

From bookkeeper to visionary businesswoman

For over 60 years, Lundbeckfonden has fostered active, value-adding ownership of the foundation’s subsidiaries while using the foundation’s independent research grants to benefit Danish-based biomedical sciences research, science education and research communication.

Grete Lundbeck (born in 1900) was a far-sighted businesswoman when, on 4 March 1954, she set up a foundation to take gradual control of her interest in H. Lundbeck A/S and to acquire more shares in Lundbeck companies. She also named the foundation sole heir to her assets, which chiefly consisted of shares in H. Lundbeck A/S. Consequently, the foundation inherited all of Grete Lundbeck’s shares in Lundbeck when she died on 17 August 1965.

There were very few female business executives in Denmark in the 1950s. Grete Lundbeck was one of the most powerful. Following a poor upbringing, she was hired at the age of 19 by Hans Lundbeck’s agency and trading company, H. Lundbeck & Co, as its first employee and clerk. She quickly rose to a key position in the company. In 1940, only three years before his death, she married Hans Lundbeck. In 1950, Grete Lundbeck took over the positions of managing director and chair of the board of directors of Lundbeck, which experienced strong growth under her leadership, based on a broad portfolio of antibiotics.

Lundbeckfonden – the first 60 years

On the occasion of the foundation’s 60th anniversary in 2014, the board of trustees expressed a wish to research the history of the foundation and to make it available to the public. Professor and historian Kurt Jacobsen, DPhil, of the Copenhagen Business School, was given full access to all of the foundation’s archives and free rein to pen the history of Lundbeckfonden – the first 60 years. The book, which was published at the beginning of 2015, lays a strong foundation for Lundbeckfonden’s future activities, with respect for and understanding of the past. You can read the book here and are also welcome to download, copy and distribute it, free of charge.