1990–2000: Caught up in the ICT craze

The ICT boom takes hold of Finland 

The new millennium arrives. In Finland and throughout the world, it is feared that computers and mobile phones will break down when the millennium arrives. It is thought that memory in information systems will get confused by the final two zeros of the new year. 

Nokia launches its first GSM phone in 1992. A few years later, the company expands its operations in Oulu and asks the university to double the amount of technology students being taken in.

The technology craze takes hold also in Oulu. In particular, the number of study places for information technology is increasing year on year. The Department of Computer Science researches and develops new kinds of software. (Picture: Raimo Ahonen, University of Oulu archive.)


Student numbers reach record levels 

At the turn of the millennium, the number of students studying electrical engineering and information technology is already several times higher than it was in the early 1990s. In addition, the Faculty of Economics is established. Students are recruited for jobs even while they are still studying. The technology culture is flourishing. 

Students of technology entertain residents of Oulu with their stunts and games.

The Oulu miracle is born

The press starts to talk about the ‘Oulu phenomenon’ and the ‘Oulu miracle’. In the early 2000s, the Oulu region is Finland's number two growth centre, second only to Helsinki. The population and the number of jobs are growing faster than in the rest of the country.

The university achieves fame as a centre for wireless technology and life sciences. Among the events held in 1999 there is even a seminar on virtual reality research. Research is also being carried out on the possibilities that augmented reality offers for medicine and creative design.

‘Without the university, there wouldn’t have been the Oulu phenomenon.’

University President Lauri Lajunen, in his 50th birthday interview with Helsingin Sanomat on 2 March 2000


In 1992, sculptor Matti Peltokangas designs the artwork ‘Yhtyvät säteet’ for the university's North Square.

The ball becomes known as the ‘humanity ball’ because it is in the courtyard of the Faculty of Humanities. (Picture: Juhani Viander, the University of Oulu archives.)