VAKEN - a non-profit network

Our Story

VAKEN is a two-year project which is financed by Nordplus, and the partner institutes.


It all began in 2013. The Nobanet network was founded – NOrdic-BAltic NETwork for internationalization of SMEs. The aim was to cooperate with the companies on an international level, and bring higher education institutions closer to companies, by making learning more practical and support companies to go abroad.

Nobanet produced learning materials, handbooks for SMEs wishing to internationalize, building up new tools including cross-border assignments and e-learning environments. Students still use the developed tools to work on real-life projects with SMEs and startups across the region.

During the process of developing learning materials, it became clear there was a need for students to enhance their soft skills in order to meet society’s demands. According to World Economic Forum report The future of jobs. Employment, skills and workforce strategy for the fourth industrial revolution (2016) companies have greater challenges in the digitized future, to become more successful in a higher level of internationalized work-spaces and a rapidly changing market environment.

To accommodate this need, a team from Arcada (lead of Nobanet) brought together a group of partners from institutions in the Nordic and Baltic regions to develop a new project which grew to become VAKEN.

We provide

  • excessive amount of tools and a process that enable students to enhance the four soft skills
  • facilitators guide through the various stages of the process
  • a pedagogical approach that can be offered within existing curricula and meet working-life requirements
  • intensive weeks to support internationalization for students, academic staff and companies
  • real-life projects with SMEs, start-ups and entrepreneurs from different parts of the region

Our vision and mission

VAKEN’s vision is to become a regional resource that brings academic staff, students and companies together to enhance and develop students’ soft skills and increase their competitiveness and employability.

VAKEN’s mission is to offer a pedagogical framework that enables training and assessment of soft skills as core competencies, which can be trained in real life context with guidance from academic staff in collaboration with companies. The goal is to strengthen the student’s employability and accelerate the students´ soft-skill competencies that are needed in their future working life.

We are

entrepreneurial –  creative, intrapreneurial, solution oriented and open​

international – an international team of professionals who value cross-border collaboration and helping companies to go international

responsible –  we contribute to the society by making education more practical and helping students to enter more easily to the labour market​

professional – we care for personal development, meaningful work and meet the needs of the businesses

Our goals

  • To evaluate the pedagogically sound methodologies and tools for nurturing competences in key soft skills
  • To develop digital laboratories for researching, rehearsing and refine tools
  • To test the tools in each of the partner institutions
  • To prepare open-source process and toolkit for wider use
  • To have the Vaken process accepted and widely used as a pedagogical framework that links companies and education across the region

Our impact

VAKEN uses a unique approach to learning that focuses on collaboration with organizations and companies in the Nordic and Baltic area. This approach builds competence and confidence, helps teams grow, and leads to improved soft-skills.
Soft skills have become increasingly important to business and our goal is to develop necessary tools and make them available to everyone.

Learn more about the VAKEN Process and the VAKEN toolkit

The VAKEN team is working on the VAKEN Process and documenting the tools.  We will soon take it for a first round of tests.