Oulu University Hospital and Tohoku University Hospital become official partners

Tohoku University Hospital, located in the city of Sendai, Japan, and Oulu University Hospital signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 19 October 2020. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony took place online. The agreement aims to strengthen cooperation between both parties in the health-related field.

Cross-border cooperation between hospitals from Oulu and Sendai

Oulu and Sendai have developed a long-term cooperation that began with a co-incubation agreement in 2005. The agreement has been renewed several times since, the most recent taking place in November 2019, and it mainly focused on high-tech industries.  Over the years, mutual delegation visits have been organized, as well as meetings with Oulu-based health and life science companies. These visits were supported and coordinated by BusinessOulu.

The ceremony of signing the MoU started with an introduction to the document and brief presentations by Mr. Ilkka Luoma, Director atOulu University Hospital, and Dr. Teiji Tominaga, Director atTohoku University Hospital. This was followed by live-broadcasted messages from the Mayor of Sendai, Ms. Kazuko Kohri, and Ms. Päivi Laajala, Mayor of Oulu. The agenda also included the statements from Mr. Pekka Orpana, Ambassador of the Embassy of Finland in Japan, and Mr. Takashi Murata, Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan in Finland. Next, the participants listened to a speech delivered by Ms. Anne Remes, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Oulu and Prof. Nobuo Yaegashi, Dean, Graduate School of Medicine at the Tohoku University. 

There is strong potential for close cooperation between Oulu University Hospital and Tohoku University Hospital as both focus on the concept of a smart hospital, and they face similar challenges. The agreement is also expected to strengthen cooperation between industries which, in turn, will improve the quality of care provided in both hospitals and the work efficiency of medical staff.

‘The smart hospital is one of our ongoing projects and we would like to learn from Oulu University Hospital’s example, so information exchange is one of the things we are going to focus on. We have already established cooperation with a few companies from the sector and we would like to continue strengthening the cooperation with Oulu’s hospital. I believe that together we can achieve more in terms of research and innovation,’ said Dr. Teiji Tominaga, Director at Tohoku University Hospital.

‘Our hospital, once it has been modernised, is expected to deliver better healthcare services. We are in  great need for digital innovations. I hope this collaboration will result in new technologies, which will help us find solutions to the challenges that we are now facing and those we will face in the future,’ added Mr. Ilkka Luoma, Director at Oulu University Hospital.

The MoU is based on the co-incubation agreement for industry promotion established between the city of Oulu, BusinessOulu, the city of Sendai and the Sendai City Industrial Promotion Organization. 

According to the content of the MoU, both hospitals will focus on:

  • promotion of smart hospitals
  • exchange of knowledge and information in fields of mutual interest
  • seeking possibilities for new funds
  • organising short-term delegation visits

The MoU opens the door for joint research and projects as well as establishing cooperation with companies in the health sector in Sendai and Oulu. Both parties are also going to share knowledge and, in this way, learn from each other’s experiences.

The MoU has been signed by the directors of both hospitals, Mr. Ilkka Luoma and Dr. Teiji Tominaga. It is valid until March 2025 and is expected to generate more business success in both Oulu and Sendai.

‘The collaboration between Oulu and Sendai has a long history. We became official friendship cities in 2005 but it took us a few years to prepare the document we are signing today and to crystallise its goals. I hope the new agreement between these two smart hospitals will also encourage more business cooperation,’ concluded Ms. Päivi Laajala, Mayor of Oulu.

Contact person

Takako Uchida

Coordinator, International Affairs Japan, BusinessOulu


Text and image: Joanna Seppänen, Health and Life Science, BusinessOulu