University of Oulu

Oulu, Finland

One of the northernmost universities in Europe, the University of Oulu is home to 13,000 students and many specialized research units.





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The University

  • The University of Oulu was founded in 1958 in support of the comprehensive development of Northern Finland, a vast area lagging behind the rest of the country in education and industrial development.
  • Students and staff of the University of Oulu represent more than 90 nationalities, making it a super-diverse hub of young talent from all over the world.
  • The University works in close alliance with the city and other societal stakeholders to solve some of the greatest global challenges, including climate change, digitalization and lifelong health.

The City

  • The modern industry in Oulu and its region developed during the first half of the 20th century when pulp mills, chemical, and steel industries were founded.
  • Nokia Group opened its first divisions in Oulu in 1973 and turned the city to a major stronghold of Nokia’s research and manufacturing. The collapse of Nokia’s cell phone business in the 2010’s had a big negative impact on the city of Oulu and its inhabitants.
  • Currently the tech employment is higher than ever, thanks to a growing number of start-ups that have taken root in Oulu.
  • Oulu differs from other Finnish towns with its young demography. Migration brings students and young workers to the town and traditionally the birth rate in the area has been high. Today Oulu is the fifth largest city in Finland. It has also been for several years one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
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University of Oulu and UNIC

The University of Oulu regards the UNIC cooperation to be a great European learning  opportunity. An opportunity that values student-centered education and provides an excellent student experience, as well as developing operating models that facilitate openness and interaction encouraging students and personnel to invent, test and discover new things. We see a great potential in UNIC’s goal to enhance the challenge based learning approach, as based on the impact by design and in the form of UNIC CityLabs, in order to integrate a university-wide ambition of societal impact in our teaching, research and administration. The University of Oulu is aiming to internationalise the student experience and to encourage our students to participate in virtual or physical mobility opportunities. The UNIC Inter-University Campus and the differentiated mobility approaches envisaged in the UNIC cooperation help us in this strategic development. The UNIC superdiversity academy and superdiverse classroom, help us to increase inclusiveness in our university.

Aims and Activities

The following key aims and activities of the University of Oulu are directly relevant to the further development of UNIC:

  • We are a founding member of the Oulu Innovation Alliance(since 2009). OIA is made up by the University of Oulu, the City of Oulu, the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District, the Oulu Region Joint Authority for Education, Natural Resources Institute Finland, and Technopolis Oyj. OIA seeks to strengthen Oulu as an international urban area, which is a top spot for business growth and new openings. The knowledge and experience gathered in this regional/national ecosystem will be used to strengthen the further local, regional, national and EU development of the UNIC Alliance and its partners.
  • A recent organizational reform for supporting the Oulu innovation ecosystem is the establishment of University Innovation Centre, which is based on the acknowledgement of collaboration between companies and universities being a critical driver of the innovation economy, and builds on success and experiences from the past and existing collaboration networks and partnerships. This innovation ecosystem will be used as a good practice to further develop the UNIC University under WP2. The University Innovation Centre closely links the offering and competences of Oulu University with the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, making it easy for local ecosystem actors to access those. It makes impact by (1) turning research to business, which includes patenting and other IP activities as well as student and staff entrepreneurship, and (2) connecting business to research by offering research-based knowledge in its many forms for other local ecosystem actors as well as national and global actors. This expertise from Oulu will be used in WP4 CityLabs.
  • The modus of co-operation and societal impact shows in our curricula where the preparedness to deal with the changing working life and increasing interaction between education and working life plays a big role. This includes increasing options for continuous studies for adult learners. The culture of curiosity and entrepreneurial spirit of students and researchers is strengthened by offering courses in entrepreneurship as optional studies, by organizing innovation challenge events and by supporting the rise of new businesses. Within UNIC we aim to develop operating models that facilitate openness and interaction and to encourage students and personnel to invent, test and discover new things.
  • Tellus will be an important aspect for the impact and sustainability of the UNIC Alliance. Tellus is a concept that combines a physical space and co-creation together. The University has taken an active approach in a creating a “platform” and an “atmosphere” for entrepreneurial and innovative initiatives to be catalysed and nurtured. Tellus is a physical space in both of the campuses that offers meeting rooms, stages for events and workshops, café areas, exhibitions spaces, spaces for quiet and group studies. During the past three years, Tellus has become a vivid hub with 20-30 000 thousand monthly visits per site, which creates possibilities for marketing and integrating strategic themes into the physical environment and pool activities for a wide audience. Within UNIC, Tellus will be used on a European level.
  • Oulu has a strong position in flagship funding “disrupting for the digital future” and is a leading university in the development of 6G internet and 7G internet. The knowledge and expertise of Oulu in regional innovation system building has a clear added value for the university-city cooperation within UNIC.
  • As Oulu is a pioneer in creating and understanding our digital future, our goal is to be the pioneer within UNIC in the digital breakthroughs of work and education, utilizing online and blended learning methods and other flexible learning opportunities. Our digital learning environments and the diverse spaces on campus (like the new hypermodern learning spaces that will be taken into use in 2020) will support actively the UNIC learning, student-centred approaches and working together.
  • In Oulu, the city of Oulu will open a collaboration hub called Business Asema which will not only provide a home-base for the CityLabs in Oulu, but also provides with FabLab facilities and a platform for associate partners, students and academics to collaborate.