Idea Competition brings university students’ solutions to boost working life connections

Three woman standing at BusinessAsema

The Idea Competition culminated in the competition final in late April. 12 participants from various countries pitched their solutions to foster student’s working life connections in Oulu.

With presentations in English and Finnish, students and recent graduates presented their ideas, both individually and in a team, to the jury and audience at BusinessAsema. The event was hosted by Business Oulu, UNIC City Labs and University of Oulu.

Now, it is time to present the winners!

Valeriia – Winner

Valeriia Pokidina was the winner of Idea Competition. Her dream is to create a community for the creative area in the city.

“I believe Oulu is a creative city. It is the 2026 European Capital of Culture and I want to make a hub here.”

Her idea “Media Arts Lab” aims at fostering Oulu’s creative class and promoting the city as a flourishing creative hub in Northern Finland. She´s pursuing a PhD at Oulu Business School and the project is a university-based collaboration with companies designed to connect professionals from creative agencies with university students.

Media Arts Lab is a simulation of a real-life creative agency that wants to unbox youthful creativity by fostering opportunities for students to be prospective employees or potential business partners.

Check out all the prizes Valeriia will get for her winning solution:

Valeriia Pokidina
Valeriia Pokidina

Tara – 1st runner-up

The 1st runner-up of Idea Competition was Tara Goodwin with her solution OULUxL – Oulu Experiential Learning. She holds a bachelor´s in Mechatronic Systems in Engineering and is doing a master´s in Language, Education and Technology at the University of Oulu.

Tara believes that the work community should be part of the classroom environment to make university studies more meaningful for future job careers.

“One thing while in Finland I learned it takes a community to make education impactful.”

Her solution to strengthen student work life is to develop project-based courses inside the university where companies and organizations can propose problem-solving cases to students. After developing their solutions, students would present them to the companies as the final deliverable. Companies would also have an active role by providing mentorship throughout the development of the idea.

Tara´s prizes for being a finalist:

Daria – 2nd runner-up

Daria Zaikoviskaia, 2nd runner-up of Idea Competition, graduated in Linguistics, worked as ESL teacher in Russia and China and is doing her master´s in Language, Education and Technology at the University of Oulu.

Daria had a burning question: “What kind of skills do I need for the opportunities in the job market?”

That´s how she came up with her solution “Learning by doing” to foster students working life connections during their studies. Her idea provides an opportunity for students to observe professionals in action and see the real work environment, promoting immersive knowledge transfers between both sides.

Daria will benefit from:

Idea Competition participants competed and pitched their solutions for an experienced jury from Oulu:

People sitting at BusinessAsema

Jury members:

The three finalists will have the opportunity to benefit from mentoring sessions on how to implement their ideas. Meet the board of mentors selected to share insightful advice:


We are looking forward to seeing the inspiring ideas take form and help students thrive on their working life journey!