BusinessOulu implements its strategy for the advancement of business in Finland with project and program funding. The most significant projects currently underway are the ‘Future Health’ and ‘Smart City and Renewable Industry’ themes under the Innovative Cities program, and the Finnish Business Hub program to boost exports to Norway and Kazakhstan.

OuluHealth developing with the Innovative Cities program

Vision: Finland as the forerunner of future health

Oulu was entrusted with the nationwide leading role in the ‘Future Health’ theme in the Innovative Cities program. Oulu’s partners include Kuopio, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (Espoo, Helsinki, Vantaa), Tampere and Turku. The program also contributes to the attainment of the goals of the OuluHealth ecosystem.

Goals of the Innovative Cities program
  • Innovations, in particular at the interface between the ICT and health sector
  • Products, services and jobs
  • Internationalizing growth companies
  • Cost-effective health benefits

The Innovative Cities program is targeted at solvent and growth-seeing companies with an ambition to develop their operations and collaborate with the public sector and other companies. The companies taking part in the Innovative Cities program develop new products, innovations, services or systems in the health and wellbeing sector.

In the Innovative Cities program, the companies’ development projects are funded in the normal manner under different subsidy instruments of the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation and the Center for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. No special Innovative Cities funding is available for companies, but there is an ongoing call for applications in special projects.

Future Hospital 2030 brochure

Smart City – Innovative Cities program

Oulu engages as a partner in the ‘Smart City and Renewable Industry’ theme led by Tampere. Oulu’s area of responsibility in the ‘Smart City’ theme is future houses and spaces, where the built environment serves a development platform for near-zero energy solutions and infill development and renovation models.
The first ‘Smart City’ development projects are the development of an efficient piloting area in Hiukkavaara and the open plot conveyance competition for the Karjasilta School area arranged by the City of Oulu for the purpose of selecting the contractor for the area. The contractor consortium is required to use the area as a platform for product or service development.

The Future Houses and Renewable Energy project

The Future Houses and Renewable Energy project continues the development of the RESCA pilot region for renewable energy and energy efficiency in Hiukkavaara, Oulu. The district is currently under construction and the best practices learned have been disseminated among the developers and other parties involved. The energy solutions installed in the pilot area are new, so no practical experience on the functionality of these technologies has yet been gained. The solutions adopted in respect of future housing are now being assessed, and the technologies are developed further in collaboration with operators from the construction sector. The goal is to optimise different sources of energy or combinations thereof as well as the energy efficiency of buildings into technologically and financially viable units. The best options will be developed into reproducible, recommended concepts both for consumers and for the companies operating in the industry.

Roadmap to Smart Oulu

The Smart Oulu Roadmap 2020 is currently under preparation. This is a joint plan for the investments and development endeavours in the Oulu region intended to make Oulu the Smart City of 2020. The core of a smart city lies in smart shared practices. A shared roadmap provides an opportunity to foresee and integrate the development endeavours of all stakeholders into shared targets so as to make it possible to better integrate external development projects and funding with the investments.

Development of the Karjasilta School area as a product and service platform

On September 8, 2014, item 365, the Oulu City Board resolved that a partner will be sought for the development of the Karjasilta School area by means of an open plot conveyance competition. The aim of the competition is to find a partner for the development and construction of the Karjasilta School area located in the Höyhtyä district of the City of Oulu. The prospective contractor was required to name 3 to 5 companies in the fields of housing, services or construction as partners who will use the area as a development platform for a specific product or service. The chosen contractor will be awarded operator and planning permission for the area, and an agreement on the commencement of land use planning (cooperation agreement) will be negotiated with the partner. On February 2, 2015, item 55, the City Board selected a consortium led by Hartela-Forum Oy as the partner.

Finnish Business Hub

The Finnish Business Hubs are business centres established by BusinessOulu and the City of Oulu to build connections between northern Finland and the target country. The aim is to promote new business operations, especially in industrial production, the ICT sector and construction. The Finnish Business Hubs are also tasked with disseminating information about the labour market of the target areas.

Finnish Business Hubs serve in:

  • Astana (Kazakhstan)
  • Gällivare (Sweden)
  • Tromsø (Norway).

Read more about the Finnish Business Hubs

Innovative Cities program (INKA)

The aim of the Innovative Cities program is to generate business-driven regional ecosystems and innovation and reference environments. The city provides companies with development and piloting environments to develop their own products and services in real environments. The program also challenges the cities to create new kind of competence-based pioneering markets. The city will use innovative public procurement in its procurement operations.

Five themes have been chosen for the program, each with designated urban regions responsible for leading the work in them. Oulu has the leading role in respect of the ‘Future Health’ theme, with Kuopio, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Tampere and Turku serving as partners. Oulu is partaking as a partner in the ‘Smart City and Renewable Industry’ theme lead by Tampere together with Lahti, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and Turku.

Read more about the Innovative Cities program at



Does your company create innovative ICT applications for the e-Health market? Apply to the FICHe, where the best companies can get up to 217,000 euros for application development.

What is FICHe?

Future Internet Challenge eHealth (FICHe) is a challenge for SMEs and startups in Europe developing innovative ICT applications for the eHealth market building upon the FIWARE technology, i.e. FIWARE generic enablers, specific enablers and/or domain specific platforms ( combined with actual use needs and business development, targeting the public and private sectors as well as consumers. FICHe will provide SMEs or startups with direct funding, technical training, business coaching and co-creation with end users.

A total of 6.24 million euros is given to companies in the FICHe challenge for application development. The grant will be given in three phases. 80 companies are chosen to attend the challenge and will receive 15,000 euros for business model development, 40 companies will continue with 50,000 euros for developing proof of concept and 20 companies will be chosen for the final round with 15,000 euros to create and test a prototype. As a result, SMEs and startups have a field lab tested prototype, elaborated business plans and go-to-market strategy.

FICHe will use a funnel approach which, after an initial phase for the evaluation and selection of the most promising proposals, will feature a continuous evaluation of the selected projects under a competitive scheme, which will see grants to fewer projects after each phase evaluation. The phases and number of projects will be as follows:

The call for applications has closed on October 31st, 2014.

Thank you all the applicants as we received over 300 applications from all over Europe.

Useful info

More information about FIWARE

Webinars about FIWARE

Other acceleration programs

FICHe is a Collaborative Project and Coordination and Support action co-funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme. The project partners are the University of Oulu, Business Oulu, TIC BioMed, FFIS de la region de Murcia, TNO, the Amsterdam Economic Board, Stichting zorgInc., Dutch eHealth Fund Management BV and Stichting

Growth Investment Opportunities

The City of Oulu is putting more efforts into attracting private investments to the region. New private investments will create conditions for economic growth, which is needed to maintain and increase the purchasing power and employment.

The desirable investment can be, for example, a construction project, a production project, a product development unit, or a trade or logistics investment. In addition to the previous, also establishment of research or other knowledge-based investment, a public-private joint venture or other similar establishment in the Oulu region is within the project's investment objectives.

The Growth Investment Opportunities (GIO) project aims at supporting BusinessOulu´s strategy to significantly increase the incoming private investments into the Oulu area. The City of Oulu's goal is to attract EUR 300 million in private investments to the area each year. The project aims to cater for a part of the objective by creating short- and long-term conditions for private investments. The project will identify the most potential investment opportunities in the Oulu region, and implement target valuation and sales material that supports the sales and marketing efforts of the investment opportunities.

The selected investment opportunities will be productised and marketed under an investments subsite that will be constructed within the project under the BusinessOulu website (

The project will enhance regional cooperation in finding investment opportunities and productising them to attract investors. In the project, a tight co-operation model – an investment team – will be built that consists of BusinessOulu´s and City of Oulu´s Urban and Environmental Services in order to effectively support the realisation of investments. Also, the University of Oulu and other educational and research institutions have an important role within the cooperation model.

As a result, there will be an efficient operating model between BusinessOulu, Oulu Urban and Environmental Services as well as other city operatives and other partners in a way that ensures the implementation of investment opportunities in satisfactory way for all parties. In addition, the project results in a powerful sales and marketing channel for the investment opportunities in Oulu area. Through the new, realised investments, Oulu area will gain new domestic and international companies and investors that will boost an increase in the employment rate and economic growth of the Oulu area.

The GIO project will take into account so-called horizontal principles that are included in the European structural funds programs. Horizontal principles include matters related to gender equality, cultural equality and sustainable development. The project will emphasise the diversity of investments so that traditionally female dominated sectors and investments in them are emphasised in the investment selection process. The project will promote gender and cultural equality issues whenever possible. The project also aims to promote the use of renewable natural resources along with energy efficiency, as well as the use of the latest environmental know-how and green technology. The project will emphasise recycling and use of renewable materials.

International Sales Force

International Sales Force is a project that aims at increasing the number of international contacts, tenders and new deals for SMEs based in Northern Ostrobothnia. The project helps enterprises to find and open new sales channels on the international market, and open, activate and develop new processes for sales and international operations. Project activities help new companies to become more international, open and increase their international activity, deepen the collaboration of export-driven companies and utilise international networks. The International Sales Force (ISF) is also about international buyers and actors coming to Oulu and visiting local companies on export-related business visits. At the same time, the image of Oulu as an excellent business environment for export companies is strengthened.

Project measures:

  1. promoting export by participating in fairs, conferences, BtoB meetings, delegations, matchmaking etc.
  2. new business opportunities, such as market reports, seminars, welcoming foreign delegations.
  3. marketing and communicating about international export activities, such as missions for promoting export, export-promoting plans of companies and joint material.

The ISF project is financed by the Council of Oulu Region and BusinessOulu. The project implementation period is 6 June 2014–5 June 2017.

Additional information: Sanna Savolainen, Project Manager,, tel: 044 703 9760
Petri Karinen, International Programme Manager,, tel: 044 703 1360

StartUp 2.0 Accelerator Programme

The aim of the StartUp 2.0 Accelerator Programme is to provide an efficient, coached accelerator programme for post-startup companies in the region of Oulu. The companies participating in the programme will be selected on the basis of their applications. The chosen companies must have a strong ambition to grow and become international. The aim of the Accelerator Programme is to promote the growth and internationalisation of the companies.

The companies selected to the programme will benefit from the accelerator operations in a way which leads to improved business competences and finalised products for international markets and prepares the company employees for the rapid growth of the company.

B-to-B Accelerator Programme
B-to-B Accelerator Programme will accelerate the development of companies striving for international growth towards becoming a fast growing company eligible for equity investments. The B-to-B Programme is not tied to a particular sector but the most important selection criterion is the potential for scaling international business growth and its promotion.

B-to-C Accelerator Programme
B-to-C Accelerator Programme covers the gaming industry, in particular, but also other digital content and services directed specifically to the consumer.

Period of execution: 1 March 2015 – 28 February 2018

Budget: € 713.000,00 of which EU funding € 499.000,00

More information: Hannu Hiltunen, tel. 044 703 1394,

StartUp 2.0 Innovation Training

The aim of the StartUp 2.0 Innovation Training is to bring together ideas, experts and application areas in a way which generates new business operations and applications, possibilities and ideas. A training model will be developed during the project by utilising interfaces between different sectors, competences of the people available in the labour market and innovative training solutions.

During the project, innovative training modules will be organised by combining and bringing together existing needs and experts with the aim of creating more target-oriented, high quality training for the changing requirements of working life. The aim of the actions taken is to reinforce the interaction between working life and training by participation and innovative methods. In an integrated way the project will create new operating models and services with which the cooperation between the different actors in the innovation environment will be accelerated and the cooperation with the experts of the employment services improved. The actions taken in the project will promote the reinstatement of experienced professionals into working life, improve the innovation skills of the participants and advance the substance skills of the participants in fields other than their own traditional field of expertise.

The target groups for the project are, among others, experienced professionals who are unemployed or under threat of unemployment, startup companies in different innovation environments and, for the applicable parts, companies and other actors already operating in the innovation environment of the region.

Period of execution: 1 April 2015 – 31 December 2017

Budget: € 558.033,00 of which EU funding € 390.623,00

More information

Soile Jokinen
Senior Advisor, Innovation Services
Tel. +358 50 322 2974

VENTURE NOW – a project to support companies seeking further investments

The purpose of the VENTURE NOW project is to secure further financing for small and medium-sized companies in different industry sectors that are ambitiously seeking growth in order to access international markets. The target group of the project consists of companies in the Oulu region that have already received financing from private investors or VC funds but still need further financing for growth and internationalisation. The measures taken under the project include:

  1. Sparring with client companies for further financing negotiations, sparring sessions and events
  2. Benchmarking of VC investors and new financing instruments and sources
  3. Matchmaking for companies seeking further financing and investors providing venture capital investments
  4. Arranging local and international investor events

The VENTURE NOW project is financed by the Council of Oulu Region and BusinessOulu, and it is being carried out from October 1, 2014 to September 9, 2017.

More information: Minna Jokisalo, Project Manager,, tel. +358 44 703 1374
Martti Särkelä, Senior Advisor, Business Development and Financing, , tel. +358 40 500 4213


Aarne Kultalahti

Aarne Kultalahti

Head of Business Environment

+358 44 703 1239

Jarmo Lauronen

Jarmo Lauronen

Head of Business services

+358 44 703 1307