My Oulu: Valeriia wants to unbox youthful creativity for Oulu 2026
Winner of the Idea Competition, the Ukrainian doctoral researcher aims at leveraging Oulu creative area. Her idea Media Arts Lab will help develop a creative community in the 2026 European Capital of Culture while strengthening university students’ connections to working life.
Valeriia Pokidina won the Idea Competition hosted by BusinessOulu, UNIC City Labs and the University of Oulu in late April. The event was held at BusinessAsema to come up with ideas to strengthen students´ connections to working life in Oulu.
Originally from Ukraine, Pokidina has two master’s in Economics and Politics, from her home country and Germany. Now she is pursuing a PhD in Human Sciences at the University of Oulu and working as a doctoral researcher at Oulu Business School.
Living in Oulu for three years now, her dream is to create a community of creative area in the city. She wishes to make a creative hub here and help flourish this 2026 European Capital of Culture.
“I am really happy, I am dreaming about that, that it works,” she says.
Connecting students and companies
Valeriia Pokidina was excited to participate in an in-person event and get the chance to interact with people.
Her solution "Media Arts Lab" is a simulation of a real-life creative agency aimed at connecting university students and companies. The idea is to select students based on their interests, specialization, previous experiences, as well as career plans and motivation and match them with companies.
Pokidina believes that students and recent graduates are young, ambitious and active personalities. The project was designed to be implemented off-campus to bring students closer to a real-life working environment, foster business-generating connections and place them inside creative networks. Several creative areas would benefit from her idea: copywriting, graphic design, strategy, digital marketing, brand management, and video edition, among others.
“We need to start thinking of imbuing Oulu with magnetic traits of modern, creative, youthful city that will help to revitalize and urbanize the surrounding locality.”
As a winner of the Idea Competition, the doctoral researcher will get 2000 euros to implement her idea, mentorship from key professionals of Oulu region, an opportunity to present her solution at UNIC CityLabs Festival and have a professional picture from Business Oulu.
She will also benefit from mentoring sessions on how to implement Media Arts Lab in Oulu. The board of mentors selected to share insightful advice with her:
Jari Karjalainen, Development Director, Osuuskauppa Arina
Juha Ala-Mursula, Director, BusinessOulu
Mikko Ahokas, CEO, Macon Oy
Jenna Antinmaa, Sales & Marketing Manager, ChocoSomnia Oy
Anu-Maarit Moilanen, CEO, Oulu City Theatre
Laura Piila, Vice President, Optomed Oyj