Oulu: The capital of northern Scandinavia enjoys strong ties with Japan

Through the years, the Nordic city of Oulu and Japan have established a good relationship with each other based on shared values.

Oulu and Sendai in Japan became official sister cities in 2005 and have since been fostering closer cooperation.

“We are similar in the way we work, we take time to build connections and we appreciate long-term relationships,” said Takako Uchida, BusinessOulu’s coordinator for international affairs with Japan.

Some events held in Oulu, such as the Air Guitar World Championship, which will mark its 25th year in 2020, Polar Bear Pitching, and Race of Drones Oulu, have gained popularity with the Japanese community.

Oulu gained global recognition as Nokia’s research and development center. Today it thrives as a dynamic high-tech hub with a diversified information and communication ecosystem based on a deep knowhow in mobile network technology complemented by start-ups and innovators providing finance, health, gaming, automotive and other industry solutions.

“We are like Silicon Valley but faster, cheaper and more execution oriented,” said Juha Ala- Mursula, executive director of BusinessOulu.

Oulu’s success lies in the close cooperation and synergy between the city’s industry, academia and local municipality that work together toward common goals.

“About 3 billion people around the world use products that were manufactured in Oulu or through the technologies provided by the innovative companies in Oulu,” Ala-Mursula said.

Aside from technological innovations, Oulu is opening its doors and sharing its knowledge, particularly with the Japanese community.

Through the efforts of the University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Science, universities and companies in Japan and Europe are able to work together closely on their research programs.

“Education has always been important for us, and in recent years we have focused on educational visits. About 10 to 20 students from Japan come to Oulu every year to learn our ways,” Ala- Mursula said.

Along with more technological advancements in its future, Oulu also sees a more solid relationship with Japan.

“We hope to continue strengthening our ties with our friends from Japan,” Uchida said. “There are many business opportunities for them to explore, especially in the field of wireless connectivity.”


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