This summer, the St. Petersburg media and social networks spread the news that they want to build a new school in the city. It is not just a school but a particular school for the most gifted children.
The proposal about that comes from Andrey Berezin itself. We have studied the situation more profoundly. Exactly Berezin, previously known only as a business shark, went to the idea of developing school education.
The Founder of the Davos Forum as a Source of Inspiration
What happened? In August, Novy Prospect magazine published a massive interview with Berezin, so he shared his plans for creating a genuinely exemplary educational institution in the northern capital. As expected, it is to be called the governor’s academy. The name shows how high the expectations are at the start.
The information that some future teachers have already found about the lyceum added intrigue. Berezin said that the basis for it would be formed by people from another well-known city school for gifted children – the 45th School of Physics and Math. He also said that a ground area is for the academy. They completed the necessary design and survey work and prepared arrangements to begin construction.
Later, journalists found additional information that shed light on other exciting details. For example, the academy will go in Kaselevo on the bank of Bolshoye Lake, and the size of the area is so large that it could fit several entire buildings. There will be both classrooms, living quarters, a sports complex with a swimming pool, laboratories, creative studios, and public spaces. In general, there is everything necessary to confirm the status of an elite educational institution.
Answering an inevitable question from the audience, why Berezin needs this? He said: “I think that the most important thing is education because now in the world is nothing but education will be quoted. Have you read the book “Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”? The book is by one of the founders of the Davos Forum, Klaus Schwab. Things that used to matter before were territory, markets, and sources. All that is gone and does not mean anything anymore. What matters nowadays is the human capital, the intellectual potential of a country. The only thing that counts in the world is what you can invent yourself”.
To this thought, Berezin added the maxim that Russia has primarily held on to the educational base formed in the Soviet years in recent decades. Therefore, building schools and investing in teachers and professors, developing educational programs, and stimulating the best students is necessary.
Undoubtedly, the thoughts are correct and timely. But why is Andrey Berezin, and why is this school taking into account that the company headed by Berezin, Euroinvest, is known for its real estate development projects?
School and Business
To answer this question, we have to rewind the wheel of history almost 50 years ago to the beginning of the seventies, when a very young Andrey Berezin went to school. He noticed early in his science education, so he went to a highly complex school, No. 239, focused on advanced math study. Having mastered the curriculum there, Berezin entered the Mechanical Institute named after D.F. Ustinov, better known in the city as Voenmeh.
The student’s abilities and persistence were also sufficient for excellent grades on his report card and for preparing a series of scientific articles. As a result, the recipient of the Lenin and Ustinov scholarships was included in his home university’s graduate program. He was predicted to have a successful career, if not in science, then in the defense industry. But it was the early 90s, the winds of free enterprise were blowing, and Andrey Berezin decided to try his hand at business.
At first, there were purely commercial projects: the townspeople were in desperate need of high-quality goods and foodstuffs. Berezin was one of those who set up a supply chain from foreign wholesale centers to St. Petersburg counters. Eventually, a final life choice had to be made, and Berezin made it in favor of business. But as we can judge from today’s events, he has not forgotten about his school and student years and drew many conclusions for the future.
Then there was much more in the turbulent 90s, including meeting his future business partners, including Yuri Vasiliev, and establishing a still-active company under the brand Euroinvest. I was also successful in getting into the fishing business when I founded the North-West Fisheries Company, and I was no less successful in getting out of it. As a result, by the early 2000s, Berezin and Vasilyev came up with a good stock of capital and business experience. So they decided to convert them into work in construction.
From Kudrovo Skyscrapers to Club Housing
Companions managed to feel the main tendencies of the moment correctly; the exhaustion of the potential of densified development, which until then prevailed in St. Petersburg and other large cities of Russia. Instead, the famous developers were looking for vacant spots in neighborhoods with existing buildings, where they would squeeze in their high-rise boxes.
Yuri Berezin and his colleagues suggested an original way out: to move a little further from the center but to get the opportunity to build with due diligence. This is how the first residential complexes in Bugry, Kudrovo, and Murino settlements appeared on the map. At that time, these toponyms were unknown to almost anyone, but today they are known to all. And the last two have become full-fledged towns, not least due to the construction activity of the Euroinvest from Berezina.
However, Berezin himself publicly admitted the disadvantages of developing the new spaces. One of them was excessive density and height of construction. The key to the problem, he pointed out, was that many construction companies were working simultaneously at the sites, and not all of them could moderate their appetite. It took the legislative intervention of the state to bring the situation back within reason.
What became of the development business of Andrey Berezin and Yuri Vasilyev now? First, it still makes up about half of the company’s total capital. But still, it changed considerably; the company elaborated a comprehensive construction policy and now acts wholly within its framework.
This policy is called 3iD, and it involves several essential things. Firstly, the widespread use of modern technical approaches, including innovative home technologies. Secondly, the perception of a multi-family residential complex is not a box divided inside into separate pieces of living space but a single space for life, work, and leisure.
The club life formats are actively encouraged. For example, master classes, lectures, and other exciting events are regularly held for tenants, and it is only possible to get to them as a club member. As you can already guess, membership is provided with the keys to the purchased apartment.
Innovation is the Next Step
But it was not for nothing that it was said above that construction projects occupy only half of Euroinvest’s portfolio. As for the other half, there is a whole range of areas in which Andrey Berezin’s company has invested over the last decade.
Perhaps the most unexpected is the agro-cluster. The holding purchased some farmland in the Pskov Region a few years ago and got its milking herd and dairy processing line. As a result, a modern and promising Krasnoye Znamya farm was created. After investing several hundred million rubles, it managed to attract many severe customers for its quality— for example, the Leningrad Zoo.
Berezin explained his choice in favor of agricultural business to the stable tendencies of rising food prices. Furthermore, the high cost of farming products makes the projects profitable even in the zone of risky agriculture, which includes the Pskov region,” he said in an interview with Novy Prospect.
The company has big plans to develop its agricultural cluster. Still, they have been put on pause because of the difficult economic situation in recent months, including the sharp rise in prices for fertilizers. Nevertheless, Andrey Berezin is not planning to quit his business. Still, he will resume his investment activities in this field after normalizing the situation.
However, Berezin and Vasiliev have been paying much more attention to another field of their work in recent years, the innovative-industrial one. It comprises three enterprises bought by Euroinvest: Svetlana, Rigel, and Recond. Each has a specialization, but together they can produce the necessary synergy in the form of promising projects and developments.
“This is a challenging but sortable task. Nevertheless, I am deeply convinced that Russia, especially St. Petersburg’s scientific and technical potential, can create innovative breakthrough solutions! Of course, investing in this kind of development at the early stages is quite risky, but the return may be enormous. I believe that venture investments are the basis of the innovation economy,” – said Andrey Berezin in the summer of 2017.
To facilitate this process, the head of the holding at the same time decided to create a separate venture division in the form of the Euro Venture Fund. The fund’s employees and specialists attracted by it became, in fact, the expert team which assessed the demand for various innovative developments.
The past years have shown that the calculation was correct. Several projects developed at the holding plants with the expert support of Euro Venture have aroused the interest of Russian and foreign business structures.
Among them, for example, there are devices for the evaluation of seed material quality, devices based on microwave radiation for heating asphalt surfaces, and devices with ultrashort pulse radiolocation sensors that help to determine ice thickness remotely. The latter, by the way, are of profound interest to Gazpromneft, which plans to use them in its drone model.
But the most promising of the holding’s developments is undoubtedly the automated complex for treating lung tumors. It embodies the unique principle of intraoperative radiation exposure to cancer. Since that, doctors can irradiate the affected tissues with X-rays during surgery, achieving incredible accuracy and efficiency. The device has received approval, among others, from Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova. It is now undergoing final refinements before being put into mass production.
The Eurovent Foundation’s fundamental technology interests are:
- Digital design and modeling, including supercomputer engineering
- Industrial applications programming and automation
- Instrumentation and robotics, including flexible manufacturing cells and robotic systems
- Automation, sensors of all kinds, industrial internet
- Electronics, microelectronics, telecom
- Small-scale power engineering, energy-efficient technologies (aimed at reducing power consumption by industrial, housing, and public utility facilities and municipal infrastructure)
- Additive and hybrid technologies
- Technologies of virtual and augmented reality
- New materials, first of all, composite ones
- Waste processing and reclamation (recycling)
- Mining, metallurgy (medium-format projects), and hydrometallurgy
- Biotechnology (not related to clinical trials)
- Food and processing industry
So, by tracing the trajectory of the life and business of Andrey Berezin, one can make an unambiguous conclusion. For decades, he has been trying to bring the profile of his holding company closer to his youth’s scientific and technical ideals. Yes, at the beginning of his career, he had to move far away from them for the sake of his first success. Still, the more resources he managed to accumulate and the larger scale of business he reached, the more persistently Berezin immersed himself in the subject of high-technology and innovative industry.
This assumption is confirmed in the aforementioned Berezin interview, which he gave in 2017.
“It is worth clarifying that the interest in innovation is not a spontaneous decision and a tribute to some fashion. The fact is that I received my bachelor graduation at the Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute. Ustinov Leningrad Mechanical Institute, specializing in automatic control systems for aircraft.
Even then, in the late 1980s, I was interested in finding applications for scientific ideas and developments and ways to scale them up. For example, at the Center for Scientific and Technical Creativity of Youth, a group of my classmates and I created checkpoint systems for enterprises. At the same time, I founded the first Research and Production Unit (RPU), which was engaged in creating computer programs. So you can say that I am a venture investor with experience,” – this is how the head of Euroinvest explained his priorities.
Developing the innovative sector of business, Andrey Berezin inevitably faced a deficit of qualified personnel. He also talked about it in his speeches. The solution was to create several mechanisms for attracting skilled workers to the holding enterprises and, even more important, to train new specialists from the youngest guests.
To do this, the company has built partnerships with various structures that support young talent. Among them are the Euler Mathematical Foundation, the Prometheus Star Contest, and most St. Petersburg technical universities. As a result, Euroinvest scouts are told to actively work with their students, making tempting career offers without waiting for them to graduate.
The new academy will become the crown, the central element of the whole system of selecting qualified personnel so carefully created by Andrey Berezin. We can suppose that by having such a powerful educational center at his disposal, the head of the holding will be able to get the maximum result out of it. Which, in the end, will be an essential success for St. Petersburg as a whole.