Before Microsoft acquired Nokia and left barren a large plot in the heart of Oulu, seeds had already been sown to drive the northern Finnish city beyond the thousands of jobs losses it saw in 2014 and into another era of abundance. 

The Nokia acquisition didn't glean all of the talent from the area, however. The propagation of ARM's Internet of Things (IoT) limb in Oulu is helping the Northern Ostrobothnia "living lab" expand its technology sector to its former glory.

In this second part of "Life after Nokia," Tech Times continues its in-depth look at Oulu's technology sector by exploring ARM Holdings' IoT division in a conversation with Zach Shelby, director of ARM's IoT business unit.

From industrial control to mobile computing power, ARM's intellectual property pulses through the circuitry of more than 10 billion chips shipped out each year. Enabling those components to speak to one another in a common tongue was the next logical step, with the IoT sector projected to swell to a $7.1 trillion industry in 2020, up from $1.9 trillion in 2013.

ARM established itself in Oulu back in 2013, after it purchased IoT firm Sensinode. It was logical match: ARM, the semiconductor and software design company and developers of power-efficient architecture to drive discrete components, and Sensinode, a pioneer of software to connect such components to one another and the Internet.

Sensinode was founded in Oulu in 2006 and had used the "living lab" city as proving grounds for its leadership and home base for its research and development, according to Shelby, who co-founded the firm and served as its CEO. The city of approximately 195,000 is known for its collaboration among companies, public sector and universities and offers an urban setting where products and services can be developed in a real-life environment.

"With the acquisition of Sensinode, ARM has grown this design center with embedded developers, cloud developers, product managers and technical leadership," Shelby tells Tech Times. "The great engineering talent pool in Oulu was another positive aspect of the Sensinode acquisition by ARM."

Shelby says ARM's IoT division has been recruiting new talent since it was formed in 2013 and a number of the company's new hires are former Nokia employees.

The ARM IoT director says he has melded right into Oulu's tech-rich scene by collaborating with other Finnish firms that specialize in embedded, mobile and infrastructure applications. The now-gutted Nokia was one of those collaborators, evidence of the impact the former Lumia maker had on Oulu and the world at large.

"Interestingly enough, ARM's breakthrough in processor IP for mobile came from its early collaboration with Nokia," Shelby tells us.

While what's left of Nokia works to retool itself, and Microsoft finds its way in the mobile market, Oulu appears to be in the early months of its next "miracle." The startup scene in Finland is flourishing as its technology sector diversifies and new players set up shop by the Gulf of Bothnia.

"We see strong new growth in the Oulu region, with a lot of exciting companies setting up R&D centers -- and it has a very healthy high-tech startup scene," says Shelby. "This is driven by the available talent pool, and great efforts by the local engineering and business leadership." 

If you missed the first half of this story, "Life after Nokia: Oulu's Second Miracle," click here to learn about Business Oulu CEO Juha Ala-Mursula's thoughts on Microsoft's acquisition and his assessment of his city's current state. 

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.