The Utopa Foundation (Stichting Utopa) derives its name from the Topa Group, a group of companies operating in transport packaging, focusing on trade, production, technology, research and training. The foundation was launched in 1988, since when it has owned all the shares in the Topa Group. Some of the income of the foundation comes from the dividends that the foundation receives from these shares.
Despite the link that exists between Stichting Utopa and the Topa Group on account of the share ownership, the foundation has no commercial control over the Topa Group. The relationship between Stichting Utopa and the Topa Group resembles that of a coin: two sides that cannot see each other but which still belong together. Two different faces that constitute one unit.
The main reason why former owner of the Topa Group, Loek Dijkman, decided to subsume his company into Utopa Foundation was his vision that a company’s role in its environment goes further than providing employment and making a profit. In his view, a company does not pay out its ‘surplus profit’ to shareholders but to the community that nurtures it. The profit is used for the greater good.
History repeats itself
Neither the act of subsuming the assets of a company into a foundation or the idea underlying it are new. Back in 1889, in Germany Ernst Abbe founded the Carl Zeiss Stiftung in Jena. Abbe was personally convinced that ‘corporate ownership should serve more stringent ethical standards and be treated as public property, insofar as that exceeds the standard of a suitable wage for work’. In our own country, in around 1900 utopian movements were started around Frederik van Eeden and Nescio. In 1972, the Van Leer Group, another packaging company, channelled its corporate assets into a foundation for idealistic purposes.
Objective according to bye-laws
The objective of Utopa Foundation according to its bye-laws is: to stimulate and promote the creative talent of people, particularly those whose potential goes unrecognised, for whatever reason. Our society places great emphasis on certain values, while neglecting others. The foundation aims to restore such imbalances. As the values emphasised by society regularly change, the foundation constantly adjusts its focus.
History teaches us that economic arguments are often key to decision-making. Later these arguments sometimes prove to be one-sided, debatable or even incorrect. With the resources it has at its disposal, the foundation wishes to somehow compensate this one-sided value judgement and act as a catalyst in a desired change process. At the same time, the foundation wants to emphasise the relativity of our current system without immediately offering a better (utopian) alternative.
The name of the Utopa Foundation fits wonderfully well within the Topa Group. This name obviously evokes associations with Utopia, the book published by Thomas More in 1516 in which he described an idyllic society. A utopia... Thomas More was followed by many more utopians, also in the Netherlands. Despite the differences in substance, all utopias throughout the ages concern the relationship between man and his environment, between man and his fellow man, between man and nature and between man and his work. In terms of these relationships, historic realisation is a recurring element in the work of the Utopa Foundation.
Within the attention areas described below, the foundation constantly chooses a segment that requires extra attention and support. Where possible, the foundation supports educational activities related to the selected attention areas.
Man to man
underprivileged and disabled
emancipation and demancipation
Man and work
Man and environment
archaeology and history
Man and nature
Requests and acceptance
As a basic principle, existing and eligible institutions and funds should first have been approached for help. Projects with a distinct political, commercial or religious character fall outside the support policy. In principle, the foundation does not provide operational subsidies and does not settle deficits in a project.
Requests for support should be submitted in writing, accompanied by a short project description and (if applicable) a copy of the by-laws or articles, an extract from the Chamber of Commerce trade register and the most recent financial data. The foundation reserves the right not to consider requests. The board’s decision about whether or not to honour a request is final.
Hooglandse Kerkgracht 17a (het Weeshuis)
2312 HS Leiden
Sculpture gallery Het Depot in Wageningen
Het Orgelpark in Amsterdam
Het Weeshuis in Leiden
Het Utopa Huis in Gorredijk