University of Oulu made a positive impression on a Brazilian guest researcher

Professor of Operations and Systems, Vérica Freitas from the Uberlândia Federal University Brazil, was on a six-week research visit in March and April 2022 to the Kerttu Saalasti Institute at the University of Oulu. In addition to the research cooperation meetings held in Oulu and Nivala, the visit program included many visits to get to know Finnish people, culture and society.
collage_Verica Freitas in front of Oulu University_people in conference room and in the woods

Uberlândia Federal University (UFU) is one of the largest federal public universities in Brazil. It has about 30,000 students (in all levels of education) and over 2,000 faculty members. With seven campuses (four of them located in Uberlandia) and two hospitals, the University offers undergraduate courses, Masters and Phd programs in the higher education level in over 30 Schools in different areas of knowledge.

Vérica Freitas is the Leader of Research groups that include other professors, researchers and students in Innovation, Operations and Supply Chain in the School of Business and Management (FAGEN). With 3,000 students, FAGEN offers undergrad courses (Business and Management; Information Management; and Public Management); Masters and PhD in Business (academic program) and Masters in Organizations Management (professional program). Besides that, the School also offers Executive courses, including MBA and Specialization; and Outreach programs. FAGEN has its own International Office.

Visit gave a rich and holistic view of University of Oulu and Finland

“The program proposed by the Kerttu Saalasti Institute (KSI) team made it possible to get to know the people, research and study lines, and the perspectives of several researchers from the University of Oulu. At the same time, it made it possible to get to know more about the culture, life, and education system in Finland, providing a rich and holistic view of the University and the country, in order to contribute to the continuity and intensification of the collaboration already established between Uberlandia Federal University (UFU) and the University of Oulu”, Freitas told.

For Freitas it was interesting to get to know both Oulu and Nivala during her trip.

“Nivala appears to be a place where a lot of development is done together. A small town with high technology and special products in addition to agriculture. Good work is being done here”, she said about her experiences.

The guests met with representatives of innovative, larger and smaller companies.

“From the discussions I had with them, new ideas, cooperation between companies and well-developed systems come to mind. At Nivala, I also visited a company that does foreign trade in Brazil”, Freitas told.

Comparison of agriculture, technology and logistics in Finland and Brazil

Brazil is home to about 220 million people. The country is divided into 26 states and the Distrito Federal. Freitas lives in a state called Minas Gerais with a population of about 22 million. About 700,000 people live Freitas´ hometown Uberlândia. Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world in terms of area and population. Minas Gerais is about 1.6 times the area of Finland.

Freitas compared Nivala to Uberlândia.

“There is also a lot of agriculture in our area. We are a logistics center in Brazil and we have several high-tech companies as well as service enterprises”, Freitas said.

Freitas also visited the high school and Junttila primary school. He admired the level of Finnish education and the equal opportunities for students to study.

“The visit to Finland, more specifically to the University of Oulu, was very fruitful in terms of my personal and professional development, providing new experiences, broadening my knowledge of the world, interacting with diverse people, different realities and experiences, which contributes to the promotion of new visions, ideas and possibilities”, Freitas said.

Ongoing collaboration

“We already have three ongoing joint research projects. During this visit, we have promoted them and also gotten a lot of new ideas that I’m discussing with my own university’s School of Business and other faculties”, Freitas told and continued:

“The next steps, resulting from the visit via the International GenZ Visiting Scholar Programme, are very promising: considering the various synergies identified, new project proposals bringing together the teams from the University of Oulu and UFU will be outlined through new remote (online) working meetings with the teams and/or researchers involved in the research and study areas.”

Freitas is expecting to welcome Prof. Dr. Matti Muhos at UFU, in Uberlandia, in October/2022, through a promotion and funding program aimed at the Internationalization of Brazilian Universities, called Institutional Internationalization Program – PrInt, promoted by CAPES (Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel), a Brazilian federal funding agency.


Eija-Riitta Niinikoski, ThM, Development Manager, Kerttu Saalasti Institute, University of Oulu

Minna Kilpeläinen, M.Ed., M.A., Communication Specialist, Kerttu Saalasti Institute, University of Oulu