10 outstanding start-ups from Oulu to watch

20 Sep 2018

The northern lights in Oulu, Finland. Image: Dennis Diatel/Shutterstock

The northern Finnish city of Oulu is on top of the world when it comes to being a dynamic powerhouse of tech entrepreneurial activity.

R&D, telecoms, sustainability and manufacturing are the hallmarks of the northern Finnish city of Oulu.

Don’t let its remote geographic location fool you. The city is at the cutting edge of technological achievement thanks to multiple test labs for the telecoms industry, setting it up nicely for the next phase of innovation through the internet of things (IoT) and 5G.

One of the most northerly cities in Europe, Oulu has something of a founder culture and a global business mindset. It is considered one of Europe’s ‘living labs’ where residents experiment with the latest wireless technologies and sensors.

As well as its technology acumen, Oulu is also the home of the Air Guitar World Championships as well as the annual Qstock rock festival.

Regular start-up meet-ups include the Technopolis Business Breakfast and annual events include the Arctic pitching competition, Polar Bear Pitching, which challenges entrepreneurs to pitch to investors from freezing cold water. Another one worth noting is the Midnight Pitch Fest, which happens every summer.

And so, here are the start-ups from the province of Oulu to watch in 2018.


Augumenta supplies augmented reality (AR) applications and development tools to organisations that use smart glasses. The company’s software enables new ways for users to monitor and control machine operations and interact with IoT devices. Headquartered in Oulu, with a support hub in Taipei, Augumenta licenses its products to global OEMs, enterprise customers, integrators and developers. Founded in 2012 by Tero Aaltonen, Peter Antoniac and Damien Douxchamps, the company has received investment and financing led by Butterfly Ventures.


Close up image of a soldier fly

Image: Insect World/Shutterstock

Entoprot produces black soldier fly larvae with the possibility of doing so anywhere in the world with automated and portable solutions. It was founded by Dr Ari Riihimaa and Juuso Nissilä.


Flexbright provides mass-production Ledfoil technology. Its process enables high volumes with cost-effective prices and intelligence integrated. The company also licenses Ledfoil technology to defined markets and industries. Led by Pekka Makkonen, Flexbright was founded in 2015 and has received investment from the Nanotechnologies and Nanomaterials Centre of the Republic of Mordovia, which is part of the Russian-wide Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIEP Rusnano).


IndoorAtlas is an indoor positioning platform for mobile applications. It provides a full-technology stack and building blocks to add features such as indoor positioning, wayfinding, geofencing, asset tracking and location intelligence into any experience you create. Its vision is to create a seamless indoor world that is discoverable for people and businesses around the world. Founded by Janne Haverinen and Esa Rahtu, Indoor Atlas has raised $31.5m so far with investment from Yahoo Japan, Digital Ventures, Takoa Invest and Innovestor Ventures.

Kide Systems

With offices in Oulu and Espoo, Kide Systems is a medical imaging software company that specialises in connecting medical devices to the internet and thus enabling archiving, viewing and remote consultation. Kide was founded by four medical imaging professionals with more than 50 years of experience in the sector: Anssi Ylimaula, Esa Matinmikko, Kimmo Wuotila and Ville Wuotila. The company raised €1m last year in a funding round led by Nordic Option.

KNL Networks

Founded in 2011, KNL Networks, or Kyynel as it is also known, is a pioneer in ‘internet anywhere’ solutions, specialising in satellite-independent communications. It is used by the maritime industry and disaster relief organisations that need reliable worldwide communications. Its mission is to be the catalyst for maritime digitalisation. It builds connections between ships and shore, and between machines and databases. Led by CEO Toni Linden, it has raised $12.7m in funding to date, including a $10m Series A round involving Inventure, Creandum and Butterfly Ventures.

Minima Processor

Minima Processor provides near-threshold voltage design solutions that employ dynamic margining and ultra-wide dynamic voltage and frequency scaling to minimise energy consumption in system-on-chip designs. It was founded in 2016 by Lauri Koskinen, Toni Soini and Tuomas Hollman. The start-up has raised €8.8m in three rounds from investors that include VTT Ventures, CFT Nordic Capital, Aalto University, EU agency EASME and the Angel Investors Network.

Simple Smart Sensors

Simple Smart Sensors (S3) enables smartphones to sense their environmental surroundings. Its main focus is on the use of near-field communications, NB-IoT and 5G-IoT. Founded by Tore Leikanger and Christian Schuss, S3 emerged from the work of multidisciplinary teams at the University of Oulu.


Founded in 2011, TactoTek specialises in injection-moulded structural electronics (IMSE) technology. IMSE solutions integrate and encapsulate printed electronics and standard electronic components within durable 3D injection-moulded plastics. Led by CEO Jussi Harvela, the company has raised $44.9m in investment from backers that include Conor Venture Partners, Business Finland, Nanogate, ELY Centre, Horizon 2020, Nordea, Faurecia and Ascend Capital Partners.


Tosibox has taken connectivity and made it simple. It has created a new standard for secure IoT connectivity, remote maintenance and network management. The award-winning Tosibox products are manufactured in Finland and used in more than 120 countries worldwide. Founded by Veikko Ylimartimo in 2010, more than 55,000 units have been delivered worldwide.

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years