Liga.net and TECHIIA continue the story of 8 technological revolutions in Ukraine since independence. The hero of this series is technology parks. What are these — cores of innovation and magnets for investment or just image history?
The data center of such scale that TECHIIA is planning to build is so far unique for Ukraine. The chain involves the government, us as a business, our investors, partners, and clients. Therefore, there are no precedents to compare: a year or two is a lot or little to agree on everything necessary
How and why did technology parks appear in Ukraine?
In Ukraine, the term "technopark" appeared in 1996. The then-president, Leonid Kuchma, signed an order on creating three such structures. In 1999, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a law regulating their activities.
Thus, the "technopark" received a legal definition assigned to it. It is "a legal entity or their association, the main purpose of which is the implementation of investment and innovation projects, production implementation of high-tech developments and high technologies.
The main purpose of the technology park is to create favorable conditions for the implementation of innovative projects, as well as attracting investments and new technologies to the country.
Technology parks were created to support technological, scientific developments that could be financed and promoted in the market. They were meant to be the centers that lead our science and production to the path of a new knowledge-intensive economy of Ukraine.
In Ukraine, the law provided the establishment of the first three such institutions in 2000-2001. These are the "E. O. Paton Electric Welding Institute" in Kyiv, the "Institute for Single Crystals" in Kharkiv, and the "Semiconductor Technologies and Materials, Optoelectronics and Sensor Technology" in Kyiv.
These structures were created on the basis of powerful research and production teams of the National Academy of Sciences. They were supposed to be engaged in the development and implementation of high-tech devices and materials for health care, biotechnologies, electronics development, radiation instrumentation, nuclear engineering, and other industries.
The main thing in the work of technology parks is the focus on the creation and release of finished high-tech products directly in Ukraine. At the same time, the product is focused on export to conquer the markets of Western countries and provide a full cycle of "development — innovation — production."
Also, one should not forget about the economic stimulation of Ukrainian technoparks by the state.
The main idea of the 1999 law was that technology parks were exempt from VAT and income tax. The condition for obtaining the benefits was the direction of funds "saved" on taxes for scientific and (or) scientific and technical activities.
At the same time, the 1999 law did not refer to "parks in general," but to specific subjects of economic activity. It was supposed that payments would be not simply "without fail" transferred to the budget income, but accumulated at special accounts of technology parks.
These funds could only be used for the purposes defined by law. This would allow technoparks to create, over time, a reliable source of funding and refinancing for innovative and investment projects aimed at implementing the latest technologies.
But the Orange Revolution of 2004-2005 and the change in the political situation in the country have changed a lot. At that time, politicians put technology parks on the shelf and took up 'priority' problems, such as the party struggle, the gas issue with Russia, and the adoption of new laws.
Ukraine has borrowed the idea of creating technology parks from the USA and Europe. The first such structures appeared in the United States back in the 50s of the XX century. Their appearance is connected with scientific developments of local universities in electronics, semiconductors, and high technologies.
Thus, in 1951, Stanford Research Park was created based on the university of the same name. An entire scientific and technical area, which we now know as Silicon Valley, was formed around it. Thanks to Silicon Valley, the then underdeveloped regions of California have become one of the most developed in the country.
The success of the American technology parks was due to the competitive environment, the property institute, the comprehensive system of higher education, and their narrow specialization.
In Europe, technology parks were established in the 70s. At first, it was Britain, where the government began to allocate significant funding for their development. These are subsidies, loans, venture capital. This is how the famous London-Oxford-Cambridge triangle was created. Its role is in the development of Britain's economy as important as Silicon Valley's in the United States.
The German model of the technology park is a small innovative support center for startup science firms. Their main fields of activity are electronics, computer technology, and biotechnology. Thus, in Germany, they started to implement the "Support Program for High Technology Firms."
In France, in 1982, the government defined the specialization of each region. That is why the country is characterized by decentralization of the system of financing technology parks at the expense of municipalities' money. In the early 90s, there were about 400 technology parks in the USA and 200 in Germany.
Ukrainian technology parks. Our days
For someone, it will be a discovery that there are officially 16 technoparks in Ukraine. Their list is enshrined in the law and posted on the website of the Ministry of Education. The dates of registration are in the '00s. Three technoparks from the list are in Donetsk, which is now occupied. And the rest have only been heard about by those who know the deal. More or less noticeable is Kyiv Polytechnic, the already mentioned Institute of Electric Welding, Institute of Single Crystals. Some others are more called technoparks than they are.
The silence around official technoparks is quite understandable. There is no government support that should go there. There are no tax breaks. One indulgence is that residents of technoparks can be subsidized with imported equipment and materials, which do not have analogs in Ukraine. But in general, this does not affect the situation — investments here are at the 'zero' level.
So far, the legislation has done everything to complicate the development of technology parks: from the fact that to register each new park, you need to make changes to the law to a complex examination.
But this is about the state. Private investors and companies look at the situation differently. They saw the financial and image profit in organizing their technoparks. Or, in a modern way, innovative parks and clusters.
From Lviv to Kharkiv
It started with the capital, of course. In April 2017, on the territory of the old motorcycle factory, the first buildings of the innovation park UNIT.City were opened. The project was initiated and financed by UFuture Investment Group, headed by businessman Vasil Khmelnytsky. The project, as it was conceived, became a regional hub, which housed the programming school UNIT.Factory, offices of startups, R&D centers of international companies, and innovation departments of Ukrainian companies.
In two and a half years UNIT.City managed to open several more buildings and coworking spaces, improve the territory, and become one of the main points for thematic business and training events. And also - to announce the start of the project on accommodation. After all, according to the original plan, Unit is a so-called all-inclusive Silicon Valley in the Kyiv Dorogozhichy district. That is, the infrastructure should allow both to live and work, and get an education and have fun.
Vasyl Khmelnitsky went beyond Kyiv — to the West and East. In Lviv, the first offices of LvivTech.City are being prepared for rent. In March 2020, UNIT.City Kharkiv is to be launched. The principles of their construction are the same as in the capital project: a city in the city and a magnet for technology companies, where everything is at your fingertips.
There are other formats.
For example, Lviv IT Cluster deals with the infrastructure project IT Park (or IT District). The ambitions here are slightly different and more directed at solving the problem: there are more than 20,000 IT specialists at the western gates of Ukraine and offices of large IT service companies. And there is not enough space for work. Since autumn, the construction of several office centers began, which should accommodate more than 10,000 people. At the same time, the work on IT Village, a country cottage complex, is underway.
And Kharkiv magnate Oleksandr Yaroslavsky declared his ambitions to implement a huge project — "Ecopolis of KhTP." Construction should begin in 2020. According to the plan, it will be an industrial and technological park with logistics complex, educational, and medical centers. The total area should exceed 150 hectares. Yaroslavsky, like Khmelnitsky, wants to concentrate on Kharkiv IT specialists.
Another regional innovation park is already opening its space in Ivano-Frankivsk. It is Promprylad.Renovation, which is gradually unfolding on 2 hectares of the old plant Promprylad.
The investment is fragmented into many investors — from large, like the ideological inspirer of the project Yuriy Filuk, the company MacPaw and Igor Liska to very small at $1000. Among other things, Promprylad.Renovation wants to attract offices of IT companies, startups, R&D centers, and a global company like Amazon. About a sixth of all possible space has now been renovated. The project managers want it finished in 4-6 years.
Finally, in 2019 Ukraine started talking about another format — ecotechnopark. The idea is to build a large data center somewhere near the power plant and use the energy that is technically difficult or impossible to transmit to the main networks. And "eco" means that next to the park, farms are being built, where waste heat is utilized in greenhouses.
TECHIIA holding is going to implement the Ecotechnopark. There were already many speculations around the future project — both about Amazon joining it and about billions of investments (we looked into the history here). In fact, the holding company says that negotiations are underway with the government to agree on documents and the project. At the same time, negotiations with investors and partners continue.
Oleg Krot, managing partner of TECHIIA holding
"The data center of such scale that TECHIIA is planning to build is so far unique for Ukraine. The chain involves the government, us as a business, our investors, partners, and clients. Therefore, there are no precedents to compare: a year or two is a lot or little to agree on everything necessary."
According to Oleg Krot, Ukraine has all the resources to become not only an IT country in Eastern Europe but also a country of data centers. But with proper risk management: the status of land for the facility, the state of energy infrastructure, the availability of specialists. And, of course, the general political and economic situation.
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