Ice hole for business – literally and figuratively

Agility is the word of the day in today’s business. Oulu has always had strong know-how in tech, and Agile Commercialisation ecosystem aims to make the most out of Oulu’s best innovations and businesses.

“We are an ecosystem of events and services that push entrepreneurs, students and entrepreneurs-to-be toward ever higher goals, better results, and better business. Oulu has a lot of great innovations in e.g. ICT and health, but many have been commercialised elsewhere. Oulu Innovation Alliance and our ecosystem is set on fixing that so we can see success being built here in Oulu”, ecosystem director Sami Niemelä says.

At Agile Commercialisation’s heart is Business Kitchen and its several functions and related networks, like Arctic Business Corridor, Avanto Accelerator, and Demola. All of these allow for entrepreneur-minded people to test out their business ideas and teams, or solve problems for established companies.

From bars to finance, business’s a-brewing

“One of the great things about Avanto Accelerator is the fact that it is flexible enough to accommodate different businesses. When our team was in Avanto Accelerator, most others were doing ICT or health tech, whereas our business idea is an eSports bar in Oulu”, Spawn Pint’s Joel Lähdevirta says.

Joni Säävälä and Elina Salla went to Avanto Accelerator with a service that enables people with different medications to check for drug interactions. Lääkitystarkistus.fi is a portal with known drug interactions that users can check based on their MyData. Now their company has been registered.

“Avanto Accelerator is a wonderful opportunity to spar both yourselves and your business idea into a seamless team and successful business through constructive criticism”, Säävälä says.

While Spawn Pint brewed in the minds of a group studying International Business, Lääkitystarkistus.fi came about from Venturing Research Challenge (VRC), a joint innovation challenge for turning research into business with researchers and multidisciplinary students by Oulu Innovation Alliance’s OuluHealth and Agile Commercialisation ecosystems.

“It is a true incarnation of OIA’s efforts – a business idea born from research, commercially geared to fulfil consumers’ needs. All it took was an initial three-day innovation sprint at VRC in October, Avanto Accelerator pitched in to support the team and hone their idea over autumn, and now they are ready to start a company”, Niemelä says.

Got a problem to solve – Demola to the rescue

There are other ways to add fuel to the fire of budding innovators. Demola is an international organisation that solves real problems companies have with multicultural and multidisciplinary student teams. First-year Oulu Business School student Antti Hyytinen got to work with OP Financial Group on updating their Pivo mobile wallet.

“I applied to Demola even though it is aimed for students closer to their graduation, and got in too. I appreciated the fact that we got to learn about working life in action rather than by sitting on lectures hours on end about theory and practice. I had this kind of ‘American Dream’ about walking into Business Kitchen, completing a few tasks and walking out again with a cheque in hand. The reality, despite turning out to be hard work and sometimes leading to banging your head against the wall, served as a positive eye-opener of what working environments can be”, Hyytinen says.

Hyytinen enjoyed the challenges that the team at OP presented his own team and described his Demola experience as a highly rewarding one. After a three month period of working on the case, Hyytinen and his team cracked the case and are now waiting for what future has in store, both regarding OP and future career choices. Their project was chosen as the best project of the autumn period by judges at Demola’s Final Pitch event.

Business Kitchen evolves

Business Kitchen was situated very centrally in Oulu from 2012. Now, with a joint innovation campus in Linnanmaa with the University of Oulu and Oulu University of Applied Sciences on the horizon, Business Kitchen is looking to evolve its operations.

“We achieved great things on Torikatu, and strive to ever greater achievements now that we’re situated on several campuses. Both universities will coexist in Linnanmaa in a few years along with Teknologiakylä just a stone’s throw away, so we will be in the middle of a cluster of innovation. Demola, ABC and Avanto Accelerator are going to have a lot more fuel going from here”, Niemelä muses.

It’s hard to argue with that sentiment and with a track record as good as Business Kitchen’s.


Avanto Accelerator is an intensive pre-incubative program to crystallise and shape ideas ready for markets and is organised by Business Kitchen.


Arctic Business Corridor is a service where international and multidisciplinary student teams help companies to enter new market areas through market research. ABC is a pilot concept that has been tested with partner universities


Business Kitchen is Oulu’s Universities’ entrepreneurship hub.


Demola is an international organisation originating from Finland that facilitates co-creation projects between university students and companies.