Olga Trofymova kindly answered a few questions in the interview below.
How did you first get to know EIT Manufacturing?
For more than 15 years, I have worked with Austrian clusters in common projects and with Peter Kuen from EIT Manufacturing East. This gave me the opportunity to speak at Manufacturing Day in Vienna on 1 June 2022. That was my first meeting and big impression of EIT Manufacturing team and their projects.
In your role in the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance (UCA), you have already worked with EIT Manufacturing and its community. Can you describe your experiences so far?
EIT Manufacturing was already well-known among many Ukrainian clusters and the partnership with EIT Manufacturing was excitedly and gratefully welcomed. During this period, we had meetings with the teams responsible for Innovation, Business Creation and Education. And we hope to participate in the coming calls.
The EIT Jumpstarter programme was a great opportunity for us, so we promoted the programme and engaged our networking partners and cluster members to participate in this early-stage innovator programme. More than 150 Ukrainian start-ups participated in the call, and it was a big honour to be on a jury and to watch all selected 16 pitches. They were very well prepared and definitely interesting for the market.
In November 2022, EIT Manufacturing organised a workshop for Ukrainian innovative companies and start-ups. It was a very informative and highly valued meeting for us, which got more participants involved in the EIT Jumpstarter call. The interest in cooperation increased and the main cooperative connections with the key stakeholders in Ukraine are now well established and ready to be boosted.
The situation in Ukraine at present is far from business as usual. How can organisations such as EIT Manufacturing support innovation in manufacturing at the present point in time?
We have very resilient companies and businesses now. The Ukrainian economy decreased by only 25% during 2022 despite the fact that one-fifth of its territory is occupied and destroyed. Ukrainian people and businesses are unbreakable – 200,000 new private entrepreneurs were registered, and 3,000 new businesses opened in 2022.
Many manufacturing companies are developing innovations to survive, be resilient and sustainable. Probably, separate calls for Ukrainian innovative manufacturing companies would be very valued at present. And at the same time, support for innovative start-ups is also very important.
We were 40 million people before the Russian invasion and those people should work. We need to re-skill and up-skill our workers to be prepared for the manufacturing boom we expect to happen after the war period.
Could you describe the Ukrainian manufacturing sector? Are there particular focus areas, thematically as well as geographically?
Well, before the full-scale war, the biggest share of manufacturing business was in the eastern part of Ukraine. The biggest producers of automotive parts are located in the western part of Ukraine and not been damaged by the war a lot.
The main manufacturing sectors are machine building, electronics, automotive, aerospace and railways machinery.
What potential do you see for the manufacturing industry to develop?
We are definitely interested in green, innovative and SMART businesses as we want to be sustainable. But we are also interested in a manufacturing sector with a lot of jobs and lots of highly motivated skilled workers are relocated from industrial regions to the western part of Ukraine.
Which challenges do players from the field of manufacturing face?
The main challenges are to build an ecosystem and integrate it into the European value chain.
What are your plans as an EIT Manufacturing representative for Ukraine?
The main plan is to make EIT Manufacturing not only famous in Ukraine for their importance in Europe but also due to the successfully implemented projects with innovative Ukrainian manufacturers. I want to engage and support companies to create partnerships and successfully participate in the coming calls.