EIT Manufacturing to build stronger ties with the Ukrainian manufacturing ecosystem

As Head of Internationalisation programmes of the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance (UCA), Olga Trofymova has worked with EIT Manufacturing since last year, with the beginning of April, she will become Manager Ukraine and help build stronger ties with actors from manufacturing in Ukraine.

Christian Bölling, Director of EIT Manufacturing Central, took the opportunity to present Olga Trofymova as the new Manager Ukraine at a Cluster meets Regions event in Kosice, Slovakia on 29 and 30 March, where she had an active part as a co-organiser and speaker.

My takeaway from the two days is: what will help Ukraine most is integrating Ukrainian companies into the European ecosystem. So, very hands-on, we need to start working together to make a difference. With Olga, we have a perfect connection to do this – let’s move forward and make a difference together.

Dr Christian Bölling, Director of EIT Manufacturing Central

This event was a workshop on EU-Ukraine Business Partnership, organised by the European Cluster Collaboration Platform on behalf of the European Commission in partnership with the Slovak Innovation and Energy Agency, the Union of Slovak Clusters, the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance and the Enterprise Europe Network.

Olga Trofymova will build the EIT Manufacturing community in Ukraine and create awareness for services and funding opportunities.

Community is key – that is the case in the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance and for EIT Manufacturing. I’m looking forward to growing the network and supporting innovation, education and business creation at this crucial point in time

Dr Olga Trofymova, Head of Internationalisation programmes of the Ukrainian Cluster Alliance (UCA)

Since EIT Manufacturing intensified their collaboration with Ukraine, I have learnt a lot about the innovation power and dedication of entrepreneurs and company representatives. It’s amazing and humbling to see how intensely many people focus on the future of Ukraine despite, or maybe precisely because of the current volatile situation. Engaging a Manager Ukraine gives us a better opportunity to build the future Ukraine already now.

Klaus Beetz, CEO of EIT Manufacturing

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.