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JCI European Conference 2024: Navigating High-Tech Innovations in the North – Contributions for the Global Markets

The JCI European Conference is an annual highlight for young active citizens from all over Europe, and this year we are delighted to welcome them to our own city, Oulu. Taking place from June 12-15, 2024, this inspiring event brings people together to share ideas and work on projects that create lasting positive change in their communities. The theme of this year’s conference was “Higher Grade of Living”. A special focus of this article is the remarkable presentation ‘Navigating High-Tech Innovations in the North – Contributions for the Global Markets’, which offers a deep insight into the Finnish way of working and the reasons why Oulu is an attractive location for technology companies.

The speakers of this presentation were:

Jussi Leponiemi (Business Oulu)
We are Business Oulu

Neil Jackson (Alif Semiconductors)
Alif Semiconductors is a global company whose mission is to provide highly integrated processors that enable endpoint applications that require Scalable Processing, Long Battery Life, Strong Security, High Integration, Edge AI/ML.

Heli Koskimäki (Oura)
Oura Health is a Finnish health technology company known for the Oura Ring, a smart ring that tracks sleep and physical activity. The ring measures over 20 biometrics, including: Blood oxygen sensing, respiratory rate, sleep timing and quality, resting heart rate, daytime heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV) or body temperature trends.

Laura Vähäsaari (Electrobit)
“Our software moves the world” this was her introduction. Electrobit is a company with locations all over the world. Their offerings are Automotive OS Framework and Digital Life Experience (software lifecycle management and maintenance). Their software is used in more than 600 million vehicles with over 5 billion embedded devices.

The presentation:

The presentation “Navigating High-Tech Innovations in the North – Contributions for the Global Markets” was a deep dive into why Oulu is a prime location for technology companies. Jussi Leponiemi from Business Oulu highlighted the city’s impressive tech credentials: over 1000 tech companies, an annual influx of 1000 new talents and a professional pool of over 25000. Oulu is a pioneer in wireless core technology, with a legacy that enables technology development and applications across approximately 30 tech domains.

Oulu logo

The city is also number one in research and development investments in Finland and ranks among the top in the EU.

Oulu’s key international competence areas include wireless connectivity, chips and microelectronics, structural electronics, AI and data, industry verticals application professionals, and metaverse building blocks. The city is also home to global initiatives and projects such as RadioPark, Nokia Campus ecosystem development and the Chips Fabless Design development initiative.

The city’s ecosystems and spearheads include digitalization in the changing urban environment, digital solutions for health and well-being, support for startups, continuous learning and ecosystem building, and sustainable circular economy and cleantech solutions. Oulu is always buzzing with regional, national and international research and development projects, making it the perfect location to develop and test designs, components, devices, complex software and automation systems.

A major driver of the ICT industry in Oulu is the University of Oulu, one of the largest universities in Finland. The university has a strong focus on technology and contributes significantly to the city’s technology-oriented environment.


Interestingly, the high-tech faculty at the University of Oulu is larger than the smallest university in Finland. This faculty focuses on mobile technologies and networks, areas that are at the forefront of today’s digital age.

The University of Oulu is also home to the 6G flagship, a testament to its commitment to pioneering research and development in the field of telecommunications. This initiative places the University, and by extension Oulu, at the cutting edge of next-generation network technology. This further strengthens Oulu’s position as a leading hub for technological innovation.

Culture and Working Method:

In the heart of Oulu’s technology industry, a unique culture and way of working is cultivated, which contributes significantly to its success. Neil Jackson from Alif Semiconductors highlighted the mix of highly experienced senior and junior employees. The company’s way of working is characterized by a passion for cutting-edge technology, a commitment to delivering on promises, effective communication, collaboration, and a strong focus on employee well-being. This ethos extends to their collaborations with Finnish (Business Finland) and local communities (Business Oulu).

Building on this, Laura Vähäsaari from Electrobit emphasized the importance of culture and teamwork in their operations. She quoted Jamil Zaki, saying, “It’s a mistake to assume that being efficient means tuning out emotionally and trying to disconnect from people so you can work them harder. But when people feel connected to their colleagues and to their leaders, they work harder, faster, and more creatively”. This sentiment is embodied in Electrobit’s approach, which promotes self-reflection, teamwork, empathy, psychological safety, and a focus on people, together and the team. Flexibility is also a cornerstone of their organization, reflected in the mindset of all their leaders.

Adding to this rich tapestry of innovation and collaboration, Heli Koskimäki from Oura emphasized the importance of having experts from various fields and the significant role of a university background when pioneering new technologies. A testament to this is the Oura Ring, a product that was not only invented in the Oulu region, but also developed, designed, and programmed right here. The successful realization of such a project speaks volumes about the exceptional talent, resources, and collaborative environment that Oulu offers. In other cities, a project of this scale and complexity would have been impossible or very difficult to realize. This achievement underscores Oulu’s position as a leading center for technological innovation.

Working with companies in Oulu:

For companies from other cities or countries that want to cooperate with a company in Oulu, the first step would be to identify potential partners. If they can’t identify potential partners, send an e-mail to for help. Business Oulu will organize the initial contact and facilitate the establishment of fruitful collaborations.