On 17–19 March, Oulu organised a virtual conference for the Eurocities’ Economic Development Forum with around 260 registered participants. A studio environment with multi-channel technology was built for this purpose at BusinessAsema, and mood inserts were streamed from different parts of Oulu with 5G smartphones.
The themes of the conference were the resilience, co-creation, and innovation ecosystems of cities. These themes were addressed jointly and inspired by presentations, panel discussions, and site visits.
Focus on innovation and vitality development in cities
The Economic Development Forum focuses on business and innovation politics and common themes that promote the competitiveness of cities. This was the first time that a meeting of the Economic Development Forum was arranged online, and the daily number of participants ranged from 80 to 140 people.
A special focus in the meeting was on urban ecosystems, and the participants got to see some ideas and tools employed in Oulu. They were presented with three innovative ecosystems in the region: BusinessAsema, the OuluHealth ecosystem, and the smart environment in the Port of Oulu.
The keynote speakers of the conference were European Commissioner for Innovation Mariya Gabriel and Financial Times’ European Economics Commentator Martin Sandbu.
Live event created by combining contents and technologies
The arrangements of the digital event took a lot of effort. The core challenge was to create an experience that the participants would find interesting and thereby take an active part throughout the duration of the virtual event. The goal was also to make the participants feel like they were taking part in an event on location in Oulu.
With these things in mind, the solution was to combine several different types of technologies and contents. The virtual experience was a combination of the Microsoft Teams application, studio-grade live stream, a digital service platform and 5G video stream through 5G smartphones. The entity was relatively laboursome to construct and took the effort of many experts, but the result was interesting and user-friendly for the participants.
Eurocities is a network of large cities in Europe, established to further economic, political and social development in its member cities. Today, Eurocities includes local governments of over 190 of Europe's major cities from 39 countries, which between them comprise 130 million people. The Eurocities secretariat is based in Brussels, Belgium. Helsinki started its chair period for the forum in 2020.
See a recording from the event, presenting BusinessAsema to the international public: