In Oulu, the 6Aika strategy has materialised as new vitality and jobs as well as better business and success opportunities. 6Aika also contributed to the birth of BusinessAsema, which connects companies, jobseekers, and students.
Oulu BusinessAsema is a new kind of joint development platform where companies, jobseekers, and students can meet effortlessly. Services related to entrepreneurship and employment as well as workspaces open to everyone are readily available at BusinessAsema.
– Cooperation between employment and business is BusinessAsema’s main user interface. Moreover, it’s a smart building and a testing environment for companies, explains 6Aika Project Manager Jari Jokisalo.
– BusinessAsema is also a good example in that it’s mostly based on the ideas, operating models, and tools of the 6Aika project, adds BusinessOulu Executive Director Juha Ala-Mursula.
Three focus areas in the strategy
It was already clear in the initial stages of the 6Aika strategy that the project must support entrepreneurship and the creation of new jobs.
Three focus areas took shape in the strategy: Open innovation platforms, Open data and interfaces, and Open participation and customership.
– The most significant areas of development for Oulu included Circular Economy and Energy, Mobility, Learning, Health and Wellbeing, Smart City solutions and Urban Data, New Knowledge and Competences for Small and Mediumsized enterprises (SMEs), and Training and Employment, says 6Aika Coordinator Soile Jokinen.
– In hindsight, it was a brilliant strategy where pertinent themes paved the way to success, she continues.
Aarne Kultalahti, Head of Business Environment at BusinessOulu, calls Open innovation platforms, along with BusinessAsema, a significant success for the 6Aika strategy.
The 12 segments of the BusinessOulu-coordinated spearhead project opened digital and physical platforms to test and develop companies’ products and services.
– Many permanent practices and tools were left for everyone to use, adds Jari Jokisalo.
A fine view of development
6Aika has provided a view of the development that is under way in Finland’s six largest cities. The project has attracted international interest.
– Finland has been regarded as a model country in such large-scale city cooperation. Funding was used efficiently, and the themes were promoted in cooperation with companies in a unique way within the EU framework, explain Ala-Mursula and Jokisalo.
The 6Aika strategy highlighted a common challenge: how to make cities smarter and meet the needs of the residents with services.
– The start-up spirit in activities united us to succeed in projects and achieve goals. We pulled together in this race, says Jokisalo.
6Aika has been a time of great cooperation and learning.
Not only can everyone learn from how cities execute development work in the project, but the Smart City development also provides an example of how to deploy smart solutions to benefit cities and residents
– Everyone can utilise best solutions developed by others.
In accordance with the funding strategy, all results must be open to the project cities and others, Jokisalo explains, referring to the background of the project.
A total of almost 4,000 companies and over 5,000 jobseekers have participated in the activities.
– Utilising the knowhow of companies more efficiently and having companies spar are key aspects of the 6Aika concept. We have gained benefits for companies from platforms and environments through rapid trials and innovative acquisitions – companies are always in focus, and it’s essential to draw companies into cooperation, say Jokisalo and Jokinen.
As for the future, Aarne Kultalahti emphasises that the 6Aika strategy raises current issues. Juha Ala-Mursula also points out that the common views of Finland’s biggest cities are therefore influential.
– When the six biggest cities, or 40 per cent of the citizens, comment something, it has a deep resonance – quite contrary to if each city told its own stories alone, he sums up.