The project helps to bridge the digital gap in the Oulu region by organizing workshops for those currently outside of working life, that combine digital small-scale manufacturing and art. The topical combination supports the goals of Oulu's European Capital of Culture 2026 program and inspires those who have not previously been interested in technology to learn the skills of the future.


Project information

Project duration


Funded by

European Structural and Investment Funds - European Social Fund (ESF)

Funding amount

295 077 EUR

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Contact person

Project description

Oulu region is a growth center that attracts students, job seekers and those outside of the job market from a wide area. However, the region's high unemployment rate is a growing problem. To improve employment numbers in the are, it is important to support various forms of study, work, self-employment and entrepreneurship.

The European Union has identified the civic skills of the 21st century that we need for personal development, social inclusion, active citizenship and employment. These include e.g. entrepreneurial skills, cultural awareness and expression, digital and technology skills, and the ability to adopt new skills. Digital and technology skills have become crucial in almost all industries and the digital divide refers to the polarization between people who have the opportunity and ability to develop technology-related skills and those who do not. The digital divide also causes polarization of the labor market - it is important to keep up with digital development to improve employment opportunities.

ARTiFAB project helps bridge the digital divide in the Oulu region through workshops combining digital fabrication and art offered to those unemployed or currently outside the working life. Digital fabrication (e.g. 2D modeling and laser cutting, 3D modeling and printing, and electronics) is seen as useful both for the development of 21st century civic skills and thinking and planning skills. In practical projects, participants learn to work independently and develop their ideas, which is a valuable resource in many areas of life. The learning experience is at best empowering. It builds agency and self-confidence, which is important when looking for a job. In addition it can help participants to trust their technology skills and become interested in e.g. about studying technology. Digital fabrication is considered to have democratized innovation, as in the design and manufacturing, participants use software and equipment that were previously only widely used in industry. When you add a touch of entrepreneurial thinking, critical thinking, and a creative artistic dimension (e.g. through dance, visual arts, design, or new media), the participants learn different ways of thinking, as well as creative problem-solving skills, which are important for innovation.

The project organizes workshops in which participants participate in the social debate on current topics (e.g. sustainable development, environmental protection) through projects that combine digital fabrication and art. The duration of one workshop is approx. 10 hours. In the workshops, participants can create, for example light effects for an interpretive dance trough combining electronics, programming and laser cutting, or use 3D technology to print a sculpture that communicates to its viewer visually, but also through music or speech. There will also be an art exhibition of the works created during the project.

The novelty of the ARTiFAB project arises from emphasizing the role of art and the creative process in addition to digital fabrication. The combination is current and supports the goals of Oulu's European Capital of Culture 2026 program. We believe that the combination will inspire those who have not previously been interested in technology to participate and learn the skills of the future, improving their ability to work and study. We emphasize the participants' finding their own voice and way of expression, as well as entrepreneurship and opportunities for self-employment created from this combination.

The project is coordinated by the University of Oulu. The responsible units are UBICOMP, INTERACT and FabLab Oulu. In the workshops, we use the FabLab facilities for digital small-scale manufacturing. The workshops are organized in cooperation with local actors from the cultural and artistic fields, and those working with persons currently unemployed or outside of working life.