In April 1963 the Governing Board of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters received a letter dated the 2nd of that month in which Professor Vilho Väisälä, an Academy member and former chairman, announced that, on certain conditions, he would present the Academy with 3,000 shares in the company Vaisala Oy that he had founded. The conditions were that the Academy should establish a fund in the names of Vilho, Yrjö and Kalle Väisälä and use the proceeds from it “to award upon application one or more personal scholarships annually for study or scientific research in mathematics or the natural sciences.”
The first scholarships of this kind, worth 6,000 Fmk altogether, were distributed to four recipients in 1964. Thus the Väisälä Fund has now been awarding grants continuously for more than 50 years.
Under the original agreement the yield from the Väisälä Fund is to be distributed to representatives of fields of research included in the mathematical and natural sciences, in addition to which the Board of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters ensures that fields close to those in which Vilho Väisälä and his brothers worked are well represented. A recent innovation is that the Väisälä Fund joined the “post-doc pool” set up by the Council of Finnish Foundations to provide longer scholarships for postdoctoral research work abroad.
The company Vaisala Oy has prospered internationally to the extent that its shares have risen substantially in value since the late 1980s, and now almost 1.5 million euros can be distributed to about a hundred recipients each year.
In the year 2000 the Väisälä Fund created a Väisälä Prize, to be awarded to between 1 and 3 successful researchers who are still at an active stage in their careers.