The Watanabe Trust Fund was founded at the University of Iceland in 2008 with the generous endowment gift of $3 million from Mr. Toshizo (Tom) Watanabe.
The objective of the Watanabe Fund is to strengthen the academic ties between Iceland and Japan. The Watanabe Fund supports students and staff of the University of Iceland to study and work in Japan, and the same applies to Japanese students and researchers who can apply for grant for a stay at the University of Iceland.
On one hand, there are scholarships available for a study abroad period for undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Iceland or at a Japanese university, and on the other hand, travel and subsistence grants for postdocs and academic staff for a research period in Japan or at the University of Iceland. Students and academic staff from all disciplines can apply for a grant.
Mr. Toshizo Watanabe is currently the president of the Toshizo Watanabe Foundation and chair emeritus and former president and CEO of Nikken Global, an international wellness products company based in the USA. Mr. Watanabe received financial support from the Wien International Scholarship Program (WISP) at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, U.S.A. At Brandeis he met and became friends with Mr. Geir H. Haarde who was also a Wien Scholar and later the Prime Minister of Iceland and Ambassador of Iceland to the USA.
Mr. Watanabe, inspired by gratitude for receiving scholarship for his valuable education wanted to offer students similar opportunities and at the same time, promote goodwill between Japan and Iceland. Following the recommendation of his fellow Brandeis classmate, Geir H. Haarde, the fund was set up at the University of Iceland with endowment gift of $3 million from Mr. Watanabe. In 2018 he generously endowed additional $2 million.
The Board of the Fund consists of three members, each of whom is appointed for a three-year term. The Rector of the University of Iceland appoints one board member, who acts as the Fund’s chairman; Mr Toshizo Watanabe and Mr Geir H. Haarde, or representatives of their descendants appoint one person each.
The current Board members are Dr. Kristín Ingvarsdóttir, lector and chairman of the board, Mr. Toshizo Watanabe, founder of the Fund, and Geir H. Haarde, former prime minister and ambassador.
Here you can read final report from former grant recipient.
Trust Fund Charter (.pdf).