KYIV – In a major bet on Ukraine’s IT future, businessman Vasyl Khmelnytsky is investing $200 million in a technopark, UNIT.City, recycling a Soviet-era industrial site on the Kyiv’s west side. Backers call the development a “city within a city,” designed to encourage innovation, IT development and jobs.
Symbolic of a new, high tech direction for Ukraine’s economy, the first of several planned campuses is on the site at an abandoned motorcycle plant near Lukianivska Metro, on Simyi Hohlovyh Street. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman opened the first building last month.
Access to infrastructure and expertise
“The objective of UNIT.City is to help Ukrainian IT business become more competitive in the context of global changes,” Khmelnitsky, the project’s sole investor, said at the opening. “Our initiative will create up to 15,000 highly paid jobs, and most importantly – will provide talented youth with opportunities for self-realization in their own country.”
UNIT.City aims to combine educational, business, cultural, medical, sports and entertainment facilities to provide small and medium-sized innovation businesses access to the infrastructure and expertise necessary for rapid development.
Traditionally, such projects are called innovation parks. UNIT.City’s founder wants to take things further.
“We want to create something more in Ukraine - an innovative city, which will become a unique ecosystem for companies operating in high-tech and creative industries,” he said. “To do that we plan to invest in UNIT.City up to $200 million over four years.”
So far 4,000 sq. m. are in use for business campuses, a UNIT.Factory educational site, a sports complex and a cafe. By the end of this year, an additional 40,000 square meters, or two hectares, of business buildings are to open.
The managing partners of UNIT.City are Maksym Bahmatov and Max Yakover. Previously, they directed the successful renovation of the VDNKh exhibition complex, also in Kyiv’s western suburbs.
Synergies for Tech Companies
“We strive to create an environment that will accelerate the development of Ukrainian business,” Bahmatov said. “For this purpose, we have brought together a strong international team of consultants, architects and urbanists who built similar parks in Europe.”
Unit.City’s ambitious master plan calls for laboratories, startup accelerators, university, galleries, shared work spaces, cafés, sports complex and a park. Tenants and other users are to be Ukrainian and international companies from tech, energy, IT, gaming, media, fintech, biotech, agro, R&D centers and investment funds.
The city is to be open to anyone interested in innovative development. On April 26, a discussion was held with Neil Sims, managing partner at Boyden San Francisco, who helped build NeXT, the computer and software company founded by Steve Jobs in 1985.
Development Center and School
The key elements to the park are to be: the Technology Companies’ Development Center (TCDC) and the UNIT Factory (Ukrainian National IT Factory).
The Development Center aims to facilitate the technological transformation of companies through innovative ideas, talent management and findingstaff for technological companies. It will work with Kyiv-Mohyla Business School and Hi Tech Office Ukraine.
One building in UNIT.City, the Development Center, already provides infrastructure, expertise and a technological base for 25 high-tech companies.
These include: Concepter, a company specialized in technology on the mobile market; Forland, a company specialized in automated farm production equipment; SmartFarming, specialized in agribusiness technology; and Hi Tech Office Ukraine, an IT innovation platform. There are two laboratories: VR First for development of virtual reality and FabLab Fabricator for 3D-prototyping.
The UNIT.Factory is an educational institution offering new forms of IT tuition. Opened last year, it operates in partnership with France’s École 42 computer programming school and is supported by the education NGO Osvіtorіya.
“I believe that UNIT.City is the most ambitious innovative project in our country,” asserted Yakover, one of the managers. “We put new meaning into the gray industrial area of the former factory and created an innovation park that is unprecedented for Ukraine.”
“We are building a city for business growth, new products, new jobs and entire industries,” he continued. “By the end of the year, we will run the first four business campuses for resident companies, several accelerators...and a large number of services for startups and corporations.”
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Slider Photo: Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman fields press questions at the inauguration April 4 of first phase of UNIT.City in western Kyiv.
Posted. May 24, 2017