The University of Oulu, Oulu University of Applied Sciences and BusinessOulu have been collaborating on the project “Higher through academic collaboration” (KoKo) since the beginning of 2015. The gain of the project is to support and advance entrepreneurship, new business and the growth and internationalization of small and medium enterprises. The project started when people wanted to tackle the both ongoing structural changes in local business and the high youth unemployment in the Oulu area. The idea of the KoKo-project is to create new business ideas and new business and to develop the incremental business by bringing the knowledge and networks of the academy of Oulu in the project.

I met Minna Törmälä, who is a postdoctoral researcher at the Martti Ahtisaari Institute in OBS, at the core of the KoKo-project, Business Kitchen. Business Kitchen is both a community and a space which supports the entrepreneurship and employment of students, and where it is possible to make connections and to meet people from different fields. Business Kitchen provides multiple activities: events, spaces for developing business, a learning platform and cooperation opportunities with companies. The atmosphere in Business Kitchen is laid-back and spontaneous, the door is open to everyone.

Minna has been in the KoKo-project since February with a task to develop a student-enterprise-collaboration operating model, which is named Arctic Business Corridor (ABC). The aim is to internationalize the business of local small and medium enterprises by utilizing the worldwide partnership networks of the universities. In the ABC-model student teams are researching the international market potential of the principal enterprise in collaboration with students of the target country. At the moment pilot collaborations are taking place in Norway and the Netherlands. The goal for next autumn is to launch collaborations with Sweden, Germany and Belgium. Also the projects for next autumn are being prepared and Minna recommends all the students who want to learn about internationalization and work with real companies to contact her without hesitation.

Minna told me that in addition to the ABC-model, the KoKo-project includes a working package whose aim is to build business from ideas. In practice this means that you can participate in a three-month long process with a business idea; your idea will be refined to a product and a profitable business with the help of a team. This idea accelerator is named Avanto Accelerator.

One of the main goals of the KoKo-project is also to develop the operating model of Business Kitchen. One of Minna’s jobs is to research how Business Kitchen could be made a concept and developed to a platform, which could be put to use in other locations. At the moment there are tentative discussions going on with Kajaani and Shanghai about expanding the operating model of Business Kitchen there.

In the end I asked Minna what would she like to say to those who have a business idea in their mind or who are interested in entrepreneurship otherwise. “Business Kitchen is definitely worth a visit! There’s always help available and people are openly accepted. This is an open collaboration and innovation space which is not found anywhere else and a safe test environment for your business ideas. So if you have some idea, there’s no reason to let it sit idle. ‘If you can dream it, you can do it’ If you have passion and enthusiasm for entrepreneurship there’s a community which supports you with your dreams. There’s no requirement to have your own business idea to come here, you can also join a team to develop other’s business ideas.”

Contact information minna.tormala@oulu.fi

Writer: Roosa Rantanen (intern of OBS, first year student)

Last updated: 14.6.2016

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