Elina Kaihua, Planning officer, Oulu Innovation Alliance, agile commercialization
I am fairly certain that when I was a first-year student studying international business at the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, we were given some sort of pitch about Business Kitchen and the different activities that are a part of it. I am actually also quite certain that a visit to Business Kitchen was organized, but I was sick and I couldn’t go, and had to write an essay about incubators and accelerators instead (yawn). Now later on looking back, I am very irritated that I was sick on the day I could have visited Business Kitchen with my classmates, because then I would have gotten involved in the activities much sooner.
So, how did I initially make my way to Business Kitchen? I was approached by a teacher at our school regarding the Arctic Business Corridor project for which the Business Kitchen was seeking participants. I was told that the project was about internationalization and involved virtual team work with students operating in different countries and actual companies, and that was pretty much all the motivation I needed to jump on board. From that point on, I spent time at Business Kitchen working on ABC for around ten weeks, and I found the Business Kitchen to be super cool and the community and vibe there to be something I had never experienced; hence why I was irritated I was not able to go already a year prior to the ABC project along with the rest of my class.
After we had the final pitches for the ABC project, it came up between an ABC facilitator, Sami Niemelä, and I that I was still seeking a work practice place for the upcoming fall. Long story short, I ended up doing my internship at the agile commercialization ecosystem of the Oulu Innovation Alliance under Sami, who is the network manager of that ecosystem. (If you do not know what the Oulu Innovation Alliance is, check out this video at ouluinnovationalliance.fi/who-we-are/).
Business Kitchen is at the very core of the agile commercialization activity in Oulu, so that is where I was stationed for the entire fall, and I had an amazing time. For those of you who have hung out at the Business Kitchen for some reason, you know that the atmosphere there is very open and relaxed, which definitely contributed to me truly enjoying my internship. What happened after my internship is that I was hired to keep doing the exact same things I was doing the whole fall for the commercialization ecosystem of the Oulu Innovation Alliance, so that is why you will still keep seeing me at either of the Business Kitchen locations!
At the end of the day, I feel like that initial contact I had with Business Kitchen really got me to where I am now – a million experiences and great friends richer; clarity as to what I want to do with my life when I “grow up”; and being able to go to work every morning feeling happy (except on Monday mornings).