Oleksandr Yaroslavsky has explained his decision to stay away from this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos by pointing to what he sees as the politicization of the event. “I might be wrong, but it seems to me that the World Economic Forum has become more about politics than business. I do not do politics. My focus is exclusively on practical work,” he explained on 29 January.  

The Kharkiv-based Ukrainian businessman certainly has plenty of projects to occupy his attention. Top of the list are his plans to redevelop Dnipro International Airport and an ambitious vision to create a billion-dollar business park on the territory of Kharkiv Tractor Plant that will serve as a logistics and industrial hub harnessing the best of regional academic and entrepreneurial talent.  

“We hope to soon reach an agreement with the government over the funding for the Dnipro airport project,” he commented. “We are also working on long-term plans for the Ecopolis project, which envisages a one million square meter site developed over a ten-year period. The result will represent a major breakthrough for Kharkiv region and for Ukraine as a whole.”  

The Ecopolis project will involve the redevelopment of currently disused areas of the sprawling Kharkiv Tractor Plant site to create a modern multifunctional business ecosystem including industrial and tech parks, logistics complex, and trade cluster along with separate educational and medical centers. Yaroslavsky says he plans to partner with Kharkiv’s leading institutes of higher education including the city’s Karazin National University, Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute, and Kharkiv National University of Urban Planning, which is already home to the Yaroslavsky-backed Megapolis Technology Transfer Center.

“Naturally, Kharkiv universities will participate in this project with their own academic resources,” commented Yaroslavsky. “We also intend to engage Kharkiv companies. The Ecopolis project is set create around 15,000 new jobs and is a much higher priority for me than attending Davos.”

The other current strategic priority for Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group is the Dnipro International Airport upgrade. “I continue to negotiate with the government over financing,” commented Yaroslavsky. “The present runway is in a pitiful state. To bring it to the level of the runway at Kharkiv International Airport will cost approximately USD 120 million. We plan to invest a further USD 70 million in the construction of a new terminal complex. Dnipro is a huge industrial hub and urgently needs an airport that reflects the region’s economic importance to Ukraine.”

Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group has invested over USD one billion in the development of the Kharkiv region, including USD 300 million in Kharkiv’s preparations to serve as a host city during the UEFA Euro 2012 football championship. Yaroslavsky regularly meets with Kharkiv students to share his business insights and discuss the development of the city. In addition to Karazin National University, he has provided support to a number of other institutes of higher education in the city including Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute, Kharkiv Food Technology University, and Kharkiv National University of Urban Planning, where he holds an honorary doctorate.

As part of ongoing efforts to celebrate Kharkiv’s academic achievements, Yaroslavsky has financed the erection of monuments to the city’s Nobel Prize winners Ilya Mechnikov, Lev Landau and Simon Kuznets along with Ukrainian literary pioneer Petro Hulak-Artemovsky. Yaroslavsky’s DCH Group has also established a strategic partnership between Karazin National University and Kharkiv Tractor Plant.

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