OuluHealth steps into 2018

Beginning of a new year is the perfect time to sum up achievements and set new goals. How good a year was it for the OuluHealth ecosystem? OuluHealth supporters share the highlights of the past year and present goals for the coming one.


Last year was a significant one for Oulu in the area of health technology. The number of health and life science companies rose to over 600 and their total turnover increased by 1.9 %. 2017 brought new investments to the health sector. Headquartered in Oulu Specim received a 3.5 million euro investment from private equity firm Bocap. Moreover, an American company, Novasano, opened its office in Oulu in order to address the need for cyber security in the healthcare industry.

‘There were many things to be especially proud of. New promising solutions were tested and developed. These include, for example, the wearable collar created by Nukute for patient-oriented screening and diagnosis of sleep apnea, the world’s first mobile hyperspectral camera offered by Specim, the intelligent bracelet that measures everything that happens in the body from professor Seppo Vainio and his team, as well as the infusion therapy device developed by Monidor,’ says Heidi Tikanmäki, Key Account Director, Health & Life Science in BusinessOulu.

Oulu found a place on a list of the 13 smartest innovation hubs on Earth (Macquarie Bank) and attained status as Finland’s second biggest health technology center. In 2017, the city hosted a number of events that attracted participants from all over the world, such as Health DemoDate or Polar Bear Pitching. Health and life science companies from the region took part in numerous matchmaking events and international trade fairs, for example, Arab Health in Dubai, Medica in Germany, Vitalis in Sweden, Healthcare IT in Japan, and Future Care in Helsinki.

‘Last year Arab Health congress and exhibition turned out to be very successful for health companies from Oulu as it secured a lot of new business contacts for the OuluHealth ecosystem. We received positive feedback from all the companies that participated in this event,’ says Reeta Räisänen, Life Science and ICT coordinator at BusinessOulu.

The OuluHealth ecosystem supported health companies in reaching new markets. A good example of market expansion is the Mini Silicon Valley Project, in which Oulu-based entrepreneurs were involved. As a result, ten companies arrived in China to find out how to look for business contacts and succeed on the Chinese market.

The ecosystem has increased its visibility both both on national and international levels through press releases, events and high-level visits. OuluHealth is already a widely recognized brand that is valued for its excellence and innovation in health, as well as for communication technologies. An important milestone in the ecosystem’s development was commercialization of OuluHealth Labs services. Up to present, 56 companies from Finland, such as Monidor and Scandicode, as well as from abroad have developed their products and services in the OuluHealth test environment.

The reason behind developing the OuluHealthLabs concept was to break a bottleneck between start-ups and public healthcare providers. Today companies have much easier access to user feedback,’ says Noora Jansson, Network Director at OuluHealth.

Significant progress was made in the development of software testing within the OYS TestLab digital environment in 2017. As a result of successful testing of patient health record systems integration, data now seamlessly flows between three different systems. According to Mari Koskinen, Specialist at OuluHealth, there are numerous integration possibilities for wireless devices. Several solutions have already been successfully integrated.

OuluHealth had a key role in many national and international programs, for example, INKA, Urban Agenda for Digital Transformation and the Nordic Test Beds. For the Centre for Health and Technology (CHT), one of the ecosystem’s stakeholders, last year was filled with cooperation with international partners, performing projects and preparing the leadership of OuluHealth RDI activities.

Veera Virta, Project Coordinator at CHT, mentions the projects that CHT completed in 2017:

  • The Digital Health Revolution (DHR) connected with the research of the human-centered data management (MyData) as part of preventive and predictive services.
  • An innovation process in the health tech ecosystem that enabled fast testing of clinical-based health tech innovations. It resulted in 10 proofs-of-concept for health tech innovations and research funding.
  • Oulu testbed’s involvement in the Nordic Testbed project. Oulu testbeds were clearly visible on the stage at the Oslo Science Park during the first ever Nordic testbeds and the Living Labs event in Oslo, together with two sister projects and Nordic Innovation.


A new year brings new challenges to tackle and projects to join. For example, OuluHealth is now involved in the international inDemand project, which defines a new model of healthcare organizations and companies co-creating digital health solutions, with the financial support of regional public funds. According to Salla Hirvonen, Project Manager at OuluHealth, this is a great possibility for ehealth companies to co-create new services together with end-users.

In 2018, CHT will be in charge of the Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services (MIDAS) project. The idea is to develop a pioneering digital platform for healthcare policymakers which will connect patient data with more informal, individual data. This platform will serve as tool for policymakers to benchmark, simulate and forecast outcomes of healthcare policy decisions. CHT is also focusing on establishment of a national Health ICT competence centre in Oulu, preparing a number of new initiatives to enhance the digital transformation in healthcare. One of the most significant ecosystem initiatives is the EU mHealth Hub, for which Oulu was granted a preliminary qualification. In addition, the Future Hospital project will continue. It is also going to be the main theme of the 2018 international Health DemoDate planned for 18 April in Oulu. What is more, a variety of matchmaking events, exhibitions, workshops and trade fairs will be organized for health companies to attend. This year starts strong with the Ecosystem Day: future care goes bio and digi on 21 February.

‘It’s interesting to see how the health sector will evolve in this year. With the development of genome-based diagnoses, I think that preventive medicine will become even more important than now. In addition, health will increasingly be monitored remotely via wearables and mobile apps for the self-tracking and self-management of health conditions,’ sums up Tikanmäki.

OuluHealth looks forward to addressing the challenges of 2018. The ecosystem supporters will continue to develop the OuluHealth brand in Finland and beyond by strengthening cooperation and boosting health tech development. Great things are in store for this year. With so many new goals and projects on the horizon, Oulu along with its health ecosystem is going to keep growing at full speed.

Picture: from left to right

Veera Virta, Joanna Seppänen, Tero Suutari, Mari Koskinen, Salla Hirvonen, Maritta Perälä-Heape, Heidi Tikanmäki, Noora Jansson and Reeta Räisänen.


Joanna Seppänen

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