European Commission - Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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Oulu Innovation Alliance

Title of measure
Full title in national language:
Oulun innovaatioallianssi
2016 to 2020
Policy objectives Plus
2.1. R&D cooperation projects between academy and industry
2.3. Knowledge transfer structures between academia and industry
5.4. Innovation management and advisory services
Presentation of the measure:

Oulu Innovation Alliance (OIA) is not a support measure as such. It is a strategic agreement between the City of Oulu, University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Technopolis Plc, The Oulu Region Joint Authority for Education (Osekk), Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and Oulu University Hospital (OYS). The actual agreement and strategy for the period of 2016-2020, follows a first one for the period 2009-2015. OIA continues the long cooperation of education, research, business and the public sector in Oulu.
Oulu Innovation Alliance’s new strategy shifs focus from research funding towards a business approach with the objective of facilitating SME growth and new business opportunities. International Oulu is the fastest growing urban region in Finland and a first-rate location to expand your business transactions and start new ones.
Oulu Innovative Alliance objectives for 2016 to 2020 are the following:

  • Oulu attractiveness is enhanced by an innovative ecosystem boosting the establishment, development and internationalization of companies based in the state-of-art expertise.
  • Implementation of Arctic and Northern potential

To accomplish this, five ecosystems have been named:

  • Northern City with Attractive Opportunities
  • Agile Commercialization
  • ICT and Digitalization
  • Industry 2026


Budget, source and type of funding
National public funds
Regional public funds
EU Structural Funds
Private funds
Form of funding provided
Policy learning
To what extent the measure can be considered as a success and worthy of policy learning?:
There has been a positive response by beneficiaries to the measure (e.g. over-subscribed in terms of requested versus available budget) but it is too early to judge results or impact
Evidence of outcomes based on evaluation and other evidence:

The Alliance has been able to attract significant funding to run a range of projects, for instance a four-year EU project FI-WARE that is building the Core Platform of the Future Internet. This is done under Centre for Internet Excellence (CIE), jointly with a range of IT companies from the region. Overall, FI-WARE project includes 46 companies and research institutes from 12 EU countries, with a total budget of over €66m. In addition, Oulu has been on the list of most intelligent communities by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) in 2012 and 2013. Another example of success is the Business Kitchen model that brings the public and private sectors together and allows the students to meet the serial entrepreneurs. Consequently, over 25 businesses have been steered to a growth track, and 30 new companies have been created within one year, among them also student entrepreneurs. There is also an event called Midnight Pitch Fest that attracted 50 Finnish and global professional investors, about 70 start-ups and an audience of 1,000 participants in 2013. In the event entrepreneurs can pitch their ideas on any business sector regardless whether they were in pre-seed, seed, startup or growth stage.

What are the most important “Do’s and Don’ts” that regional stakeholders should be aware of when launching a similar measure?:

OIA would not exist without the commitment of the engaged core partners. They are the driving force that set OIA in motion. It is also important to recognise the foundations that had already been laid in the past. The long tradition of cooperating with others in the region helped to establish OIA. A strategic partnership such as OIA might not function as well with partners that have no prior history.

Would you recommend this measure as an example of regional good practice to policy-makers from other regions ?:
Organisation(s) responsible