Nobel laureates cradle

01.08.2014 | By Olesya Tsvirka

Kharkiv is a metropolis in eastern Ukraine, which remains the largest industrial and academic center and in the near future should make maximum use of its traditional advantages: convenient location, smart and strong academic, university and industrial science, industrial potential, trading traditions and skilled personnel


Every major Ukrainian city is perceived from the outside within the scope of some stereotypes. Kharkiv is closely associated with factories and universities. However, this is not all, and life has corrected some of the stereotypes. By a twist of fate over the past two decades, the brand Barabashovo has overshadowed many other brands for which Kharkiv was famous and of which the city was proud for example, the Kharkov Tractor Plant, the Malyshev Factory or the Turboatom. The largest consumer goods market in Eastern Europe (the total area exceeds 75 hectares) did not emerge accidentally or from scratch: Kharkiv has long been a merchant city, its trading traditions are rooted in the 17th century, when the capital of Slobozhanshchyna region started hosting the famous Pokrovsky fairs, which were renewed in 1996.

There is nothing surprising in it, since Kharkiv is located on the border with Russia and is traversed by strategic traffic arteries. Kharkiv is the main hub of railway communication in eastern Ukraine, plus the city has a modern international airport. In addition, Kharkiv has enough free storage and retail spaces. As of today there are forty different markets, bazaars and shopping complexes in the city. Trade helped out many Kharkiv residents in the dashing 1990s, when the industry and science suffered a collapse. And today, according to Kharkiv economist Serhiy Kuzmin, it would be almost impossible to return assistant professors and PhDs to the factories and research institutes people got a taste of trading business and lost most of their scientific skills. But they became the basis of the current middle class in the city.

Kharkiv has been and will remain a major trading center, and commerce will be an essential source of income for its citizens and the city treasury.


The loss of intellectual cadres who had moved to the trading business is not critical for Kharkiv, because the city has a strong university base. Today Kharkov has 20 universities, 8 academies and 9 institutes. More than 200,000 students, including 12,000 foreigners, study at Kharkiv academic institutions.

Young people like to look for unconventional ways, be the first and remain in the center of events. Kharkiv students are inspired by the example of three Nobel Prize recipients associated with Kharkiv universities: Ilya Mechnikov (medicine), Lev Landau (physics) and Simon Kuznets (economics).

Graduates of Kharkiv universities will be able to apply their knowledge in city enterprises, especially those which think about future development of innovative economy. It comes not only as a theory of the Concept of Kharkivs Development Strategy by 2030, drafted by the Academy of Municipal Economy with the participation of other Kharkiv universities. And there the innovative scenario was chosen from among several others. Innovative developments are already implemented and tested at some Kharkiv enterprises where managers have realized that todays investments in science turn into tomorrows profits and competitiveness.

This process is actually complex and difficult. For objective historical reasons our society is only beginning to shape market culture and practices, and their embryonic state slows down all the processes of innovation economy. This requires development of innovative culture in society and innovative behavior in business, science institutions and authorities.


The UPEC Industrial Group, which founded the United Engineering Center (UIC), has shown a positive experience of investing in innovations. Over five years scientists from the center have developed a number of devices and systems for railway transport and agricultural machinery.

As an example of the efficiency of the centers work the Director of the UIC Eduard Simson introduced the work of a unique laboratory for certification testing of railway bearings at the Kharkiv Bearing Plant.

Investments into the test station amounted to more than EUR 2.5 mn. In this project, we have gone from design, planning, selfproduction of mechanical parts for stands up top creation of systems of management, debugging, running and implementation in cooperation with German companies, said Simson.

According to him, creation of research centers directly at the enterprise is the most successful investment into development of Ukrainian science and, consequently, in our own business.

The most promising for innovations among Kharkiv enterprises seem to be those related to the defense complex and production of missile and space equipment. Such inventions and designs will be in demand for extended periods. Especially because such companies as Hartron accumulated considerable experience of restructuring and adaptation of scientific and technical capacity to changing market conditions. And this potential does not need any recommendations: control systems, designed at Hartron, have been used and will be used for rockets and space stations of different production from Samara to Moscow and Dnipropetrovsk.

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