The University of Oulu was happy to host a study visit as a part of the preparation of the Actions Plans. As majority of the planned Foundation Seminars and Workshops have taken place on-line including the one University of Oulu was hosting, the possibility to learn more in detail of some region’s GPs was greeted with pleasure. Visiting a region and learning of its characteristics and meeting its people offers deep understanding both hosting but also insights for own region strengths and possibilities. This way the interregional visits support both hosting and visiting partners’ interests.

The Interregional Visit started on Wednesday the 18th of May when Hungarian and Poland delegations were picked up from the hotel at Oulu to start a two-hour journey to Nivala. Hungarian delegation consists of two members of our Partner, Pannon Business Network Association (PBN), namely Krisztina Bárdos and Zsófia Kocsis, which we joined by local stakeholder Sándor Bernadett from Ministry of Finance. Poland delegation included two members of our Partner, Rzeszow Regional Development Agency, Marek Duda and Karolina Krukowska. On the way to Nivala the visitors had change to see what it means to be “very rural” in Finland and hear the introduction to the visit and the University of Oulu as well as learn more about the Oulu region.

When arrived to and Nivala Industrial Park there were people of Kerttu Saalasti Institute UniOulu), and people of NIHAK ry welcoming with coffee. The mayor of Nivala, Päivi Karikumpu presented the region and Ari Alakangas & Jenni Helander introduced NIHAK ry: Business and economic development services and Rural Internalization model, followed with discussion. After their presentation Antti Järvenpää and Kari Mäntyjärvi presented KSI Future Manufacturing Technologies followed with the site visit. The discussion was lively during networking lunch with local stakeholders, but it was time to hop into van and continue to visit Ylivieska, where people of Centria University of Applied Sciences and Ylivieska development services YTEK were already waiting with coffee – of course – the Finnish way.

After getting to know each other we visited Robo 3D lab and heard presentations from Risto Rova about Battery Recycling Innovation Park and Jorma Hintikka with his team presented Centria Production Technology Research area. Many future collaboration opportunities were found that day leading the partners “free time” to be cut for 30 minutes. All delegates were still eager to join small city walking tour around and even under the city of Oulu to see the underground car park with the newest technology. After all, that’s what Oulu is famous for. After meeting “Toripolliisi” (the Market Police statue) it was time to wrap up the day over the consortium dinner in Toripolliisi restaurant. Everybody very full and ready for the bed – except two who had not seen the sea and had a night walk to dip the toe into the cold water. The weather might be exceptional cold but at least the amount of light was like it is in late spring near the arctic circle.

Thursday the 19th of May we stayed in Oulu, as we had several inspiring speakers waiting for us in BusinessAsema, which is a new meeting place, including business and employment services, and co-creation platform and space for developing, testing, and showcasing new end solutions in a smart space environment. At first Specialist Maria Vuorensola, Business Oulu, and Vice Rector Arto Maaninen, University of Oulu gave us introduction to Oulu Innovation Alliance followed by regional incubator project presentation by Sami Niemelä, Oulu University of Applied Science & University Innovation Center. After having a good overview of the good practice as such, it was time to move for the next level – “6G & Metacity”-theme was inspired by Flagship Ecosystem Coordinator Mika Rantakokko, University of Oulu.

After coffee and discussion, we had the possibility to learn more business development the Oulu way as Anna Leena Ollikainen from Pectim Consulting Oy presented eStart-program (pre-incubator) and Anneli Rinta-Paavola from Uusyrityskeskus presented the activities and support of “New business center”. To wrap-up the visit, it was time to discuss lessons learned during the visit: representatives from PBN and RRDA presented their ideas and thoughts related to visit and Action Plans. All participants were impressed of the commitment of business development organizations personnel and research people interaction with society. Even small towns Nivala and Ylivieska have active ecosystems, and general development such as 5G everywhere. How they felt that all actors are genuine enthusiasm into what they are doing. After all, it is all about people: collaboration and trust that make the difference. Both local stakeholders and delegations were happy to share of ideas for future collaboration further discussed around the lunch before the Hungarian and Polish delegates had to rush into the airport.