Promprylad.Renovation is a former Soviet plant, which has been successfully transformed into one of the most modern urban spaces in Ukraine. A dance school, a contemporary art gallery, a multimedia laboratory, children’s informal education clubs, a city development laboratory, and even the office of the Investment Policy Department of the City Council have been brought together under the roof of a plant in the very city centre. Two years ago, Ukraїner already covered the beginning of Promprylad’s transformation. This publication continues exploring the alteration of the large plant, thanks to which Ivano-Frankivsk took first place in the rating of best cities for doing business in 2020.
Investing in values
Promprylad is one of the instrument engineering plants in Halychyna. Its history dates back to 1940, when a machine-building plant, which produced forming presses and consumer goods, and a railroad car making plant merged into the machine-building plant of Stanislav (Stanislav was the name of Ivano-Frankivsk until 1962 — tr.) with instrument engineering as its specialisation. After having been renamed many times, the plant got its name ‘Promprylad’ in 1988, when they started making umbrellas known throughout the Soviet Union.
In the early 1990s, the plant was already living through a lengthy crisis, and its territory was partially built up with residential housing. The Promprylad.Renovation project is an attempt to turn a former plant into a place inspired by the new economy. Now its premises is a modern space aimed to develop Ivano-Frankivsk in four areas: education, art, business, and urbanism. Promprylad is a bright example of impact investing — investment in social or economic development. The investors contribute their money to a social project, become its co-owners, and are paid dividends. By the beginning of November 2020, the project has involved over 500 investors who have made a contribution exceeding $5.5 million. Also, over $780,000 was provided through grants.
It all began when Yuriy Fylyuk and his partners moved from Kyiv to Ivano-Frankivsk and opened a few restaurants under the brand 23 Restaurants. Later they implemented the idea of the first social restaurant in Ukraine, Urban Space 100, and launched the Teple Misto (Warm City — tr.) platform. Promprylad.Renovation has not just been the organic unity of projects supported by Yuriy and his partners — it is a logical continuation. It is a manifestation of the desire to bring one’s social responsibility to the scale of the city and country.
“In fact, any person or organisation can become an investor of Promprylad. The only thing is that we have an ethical filter. It’s important to us that the people who join in understand what it’s all about, share our values and the long-term vision of the project, and that all our investors become a major part of the city’s and region’s transformation. All people who invest in us share fundamental values and understand what they are investing in.”
We told the story of the pilot project two years ago: how the team rented 1,800 m², reconstructed the area, and engaged 16 co-tenants. The pilot stage cost $1.3 million. The money came from the first investors, including Yuriy Fylyuk himself and the donor organisations. In February 2019, the Promprylad team bought out 82% of the plant shares and paid the first allotment.
Yuriy says that the space and its residents coexist in a certain symbiosis — they form an integral ecosystem and affect each other, thus developing the city and the country.
“Stage by stage, we are turning the old buildings into locations for new creative projects, art projects, and in fact, new ideas, new projects, and new businesses are being born here now. They are forming a unique system here on the plant’s territory, and at the same time affecting the development of the whole city, region, and country.”
A lot changed over the two years. For example, the presence of Promprylad contributed to Ivano-Frankivsk taking first place in Forbes Ukraine’s rating of best Ukrainian cities for doing business, outrunning Vinnytsia, Lviv, and Kyiv.
The project is unique not only for Ukraine, but also for the world. The renovation of Frankivsk was presented in Davos, Stanford, Oxford, the House of Lords of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Yuriy says that when the renovation of the plant is completed, it will become a special and unique project with its high level of collaboration.
“Our western partners say that we are already forming an inclusive economy, facing the inclusion issues of the society. Here we bring together different representatives of society with different stakeholders, and build this project in a way that takes into account the interests of all the representatives.”
The drivers of change
At the moment, Promprylad includes 6,200 m² of renovated area and gives jobs to 350 people — and this is only the beginning as the plans of the project’s founders go much further. The next steps include completing the restoration of the plant’s buildings and constructing another 10,000 m² of new area. In the final stage, the total area of the centre is to span over 36,000 m².
“Overall, the idea is being implemented as I initially envisioned it, but of course in our perception, the project has grown 100 times compared to what it seemed at the beginning. This is a way more complex thing. And as we went deeper into the process, as we understood the context better, we realised how complicated it is. All this only made it more worthwhile.”
The Promprylad team has moved on to the second stage of attracting investment, as they are planning to involve another 200 investors by the end of 2020. Those who want to invest in social entrepreneurship and earn money, while developing Ivano-Frankivsk and Ukraine, can do this with a sum starting from 50,000 UAH.
The project is gradually starting to live its life independently without the constant involvement of Yuriy Fylyuk. For the sake of implementing the Promprylad plans and attracting new investment, Yuriy travels the world a lot and basically lives in two cities, Ivano-Frankivsk and Kyiv. He is glad that everytime he comes back to Promprylad, there is change and improvement.
“The beauty of this project is that it lives and develops itself. I believe we have already laid the foundations. We do have a lot of work ahead of us, but the atmosphere, certain principles, and values can already be felt here. It’s already become an ecosystem and a living organism.”
The ecosystem of the space is made up of multiple elements, most of which are aimed at creating innovative products, starting new companies and ideas. Promprylad is to serve as the basis for a business school, a coworking space, a business incubator, a maker’s lab for designing and testing, a school for professions, and a food market. They are also planning to build a large hotel with a coworking space and a new parking lot.
In order to bring culture and business together, they are opening galleries, and are planning to build a film centre and big event sites that can accommodate three to four thousand visitors. They also envision developing various retail projects.
“As for retail business, Promprylad is rather a place for testing new concepts in this field. For example, we have an agreement with the Nova Poshta courier company that they will test their innovative office here. With Aval Bank, we are discussing an innovative bank branch involving no face-to-face services. With some publishing houses, we are talking about a book shop with a public space for free, on-site reading.”
The main goal of revitalising the old plant is to help the city and the region move to a new level, reload the old systems, discover the opportunities which were unavailable in the Soviet times, and introduce them to the global markets not only economically, but also in terms of culture and education. The project is to help the locals realise their potential in Ivano-Frankivsk without being forced to move to other regions.
“What has already been built are social prospects. There are many awesome people ready to stay here because the city is becoming dynamic and interesting — this dynamism can compete with any global city in the world, only we’re talking about Ukraine here. And this change is actually the vital part of what we’re doing.”
Yuriy sees Stanford, New York, London, San Francisco, and other global cities as guides for the development of Ivano-Frankivsk. Earlier, such comparisons and his vision were received as a far-fetched dream, but thanks to Promprylad, the residents of Ivano-Frankivsk can already see that Ukrainian cities are capable of implementing projects in cooperation with Stanford and London.
He says that in Ukraine there are enthusiasts who would like to create similar spaces in their cities. When somebody turns to them for a ready-made transformation plan, they do not rush to give advice as the idea is yet to be tested to see how this model works in the long-term. He says that despite this, Promprylad is technically an open-source system — their achievements can be used as a basis for changes in other cities.
“Promprylad can bring people together on the national level because in the scale of its current implementation, this project cannot fail to be noticed. Each resident of Ivano-Frankivsk will come here sooner or later — some will come to have a coffee, some will come to an art event, some will bring their children here, and some will work in one of the offices. It’s a project that changes the whole city.”
Science and manufacturing
The Promprylad team find it crucial to preserve the manufacturing which was established at the plant in the past. Thus, the R&D center, the project of scientist Serhii Kaminskyi is located on the territory of the plant. They design environmentally friendly batteries, which accumulate energy and allow redistribution of its consumption. The project is oriented to the global market and financially supported internationally. Serhii says that Ivano-Frankivsk is the only city where he stayed longer than two years over the last fifteen years of his life. He could have chosen the United Arab Emirates, but decided to continue his research in Ivano-Frankivsk. The team consider themselves a part of Promprylad, as this is their way to drive social change.
“When I feel that one is on the same wavelength as I am, it surprises me, but it’s important that they don’t just dream, but also act. This is why I came here.”
Serhii is not originally from Ivano-Frankivsk, neither is anybody from his team of over 20 people, but they are working to collaborate with the local scientists. They have arranged remote cooperation with most of the scientists and now have over 80 projects in progress. All of them, however, are currently on hold for the sake of launching the top priority project of producing modern batteries.
A city within a city
Now Promprylad houses 25 resident companies, which develop its ecosystem while the plant helps them develop their businesses. Among them are representatives of business, education, culture, and also the city’s authorities.
Yuriy says that to become a resident, it is not enough just to express a wish to get an office in the city centre and afford the rent. Preference is given to businesses oriented towards innovation, based on the principle of added value, which are ready to invest in the shared progress, thus contributing to their own success. These businesses are eligible to occupy 70% of the area for rent.
“The other 30% of the area is assigned to low-profit, non-profitable, educational, or art projects, incubators, and accelerators which are vital to support the whole ecosystem and positively influence the overall project’s economy. They create a new dynamism and demonstrate how better results can be achieved through the principles of openness and cooperation.”
Some of the residents include family manufacturer, Shuflia, whose specialisation is leather goods; contemporary art gallery, Detector; craft brewery, Molfar Brewery; educational projects for children, such as Dribnota and RoboClubIF; and a modern dance studio, Mixstyle. The plant also houses technological startups including Framiore, R&D center, and Multimedia lab.
The founder of the family manufacturer Shuflia, Natalka Naida, has collaborated with the Promprylad project since the very beginning (three years already). She says that they moved to Promprylad when Yuriy Fylyuk called them, and decided to stay because that was the place where they found something that cannot be found in ordinary shopping centres. The manufacturer works as an open workshop — anybody can come and see how wallets, handbags, or notebooks are made, buy something from the ready-made goods, or make a custom order.
“It’s vital for us to be in this ecosystem and in this environment because, for me personally, it’s a city within a city. Everything is gathered here like in Noah’s Arc — there are designers, urbanists, accountants, financiers, and photographers. Personally, I feel very comfortable here.”
Further down the corridor is contemporary art gallery, Detector, which brings contemporary art to the city, and also does research into the current national and global art trends. The gallery’s founder, Liliia Gogol, says that the current gallery is just a promo of a large gallery, but it is already developing the artistic component of the overall ecosystem. The project exists due to the support from the patrons, and now it was also launched on the Patreon platform.
“We aren’t a commercial project. We exist thanks to people who care and are ready to support us. It is vital for us to stay in the Promprylad ecosystem — we are among like-minded people, in a place where we are cared for, and our audience is already prepared to interact with contemporary art.”
Next to the gallery is the art workshop of Yarema Stetsyk, who works on art and commercial projects. Yarema says that most of their commercial projects are for the western market — there it is much easier to convey meanings, and the workshop’s level allows them to easily set the trends for further competition. Speaking about the architecture and planning of the plant, Yarema points out that everything is now oriented towards constant interaction among people and openness of the projects for the onlooker.
“Want it or not, here you take part in a life that is completely different from what is going on in the city. Even if you are the most passive tenant on the floor who doesn’t say hello to anybody or go out anywhere, still large amounts of awesome information pass through your head and shoulders.”
In Promprylad, there are two spaces for children’s education. According to Olena Maniv-Holovetska, in RoboClubIF they help children develop through showing them nothing is impossible, while putting emphasis on IT and programming. There are groups for children from the age of five, and by the age of twelve, they move on to more complex studies. Thus, IT-specialists can develop as mentors, while children over twelve receive first-hand technical knowledge.
Over the last year, they taught children who are hard of hearing. The specialists of the club do their best to keep inclusive education a fundamental part of the club’s work. Besides teaching robotics to children, they also train teachers who want to introduce robotics to students in their own schools and prepare them for the challenges of the future.
“In fact, the history of the club goes back to 2014 when the conflicts in the east broke out and people started moving here. The club started from a big idea of the internally displaced people to create a space for children who moved here, and for children of the veterans of the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Eastern Ukraine.”
The idea to create RE: laboratory, a space for environmentally conscious people, is closely connected to the plant revitalisation process. Inspired by the ideas of Yuriy and his team, the lab’s founder, Mykhailo Veklyn, realised that to improve the environment and make it even more beautiful, it is necessary to give new life to waste through recycling. The Promprylad team suggested that Mykhailo join in to recycle the waste at the stage of the pilot project. With time, it became clear that it was not enough just to recycle, but it was also crucial to invest in education and training, showing people how their lives can become more environmentally friendly. That was how RE: laboratory came to existence.
Now the lab is based on the zero waste principle — they give part of the waste to recycling plants and keep some for their own experiments and testing of concepts. When the first events took place at the plant, and there were banners left, the lab team decided to upcycle those to bags and wallets. As part of their programme for 2022–2024, they are planning to ensure recycling for all the waste generated by all Promprylad residents.
“When we heard about the space that was going to open at Promprylad, we had a goal to be there. Back then we already knew that this place was going to become the centre of Ivano-Frankivsk, the centre of the city’s development, and thus our project would also be in the centre of development. Here everything is collected in complex, and all issues are solved much faster. There is much more trust here. It’s a magnet that attracts you, but it gives much more back to you in return.”
The city development laboratory, Metalab, is responsible for the urban aspect of the revitalised plant’s operation studies, the city and village spaces across Ukraine, and how ready they are to react to various social and natural challenges. Anna Pashynska, the cofounder and curator of the lab, says that this year their project became a partner of an international biennale of urbanism. Because of COVID-19 and quarantine, each city was able to serve as a site for it. This year there were around 400 applicants for the programme, but only 60 of them were selected, seven of which were from Ukraine. Anna is happy that each year the quality of urban and architecture discussion in Ukraine changes, and Ivano-Frankivsk contributes largely to the change.
“Promprylad provides the infrastructure which the city lacks — it’s open and connected with the outside world. And it’s important to have a place where it just happens. At the same time, with only one renovated floor, they have already formed a powerful close-knit community. This physical connection develops valuable synergy.”
Also on the plant’s territory is a multimedia coworking space, Multimedia lab. It has modern equipment and a studio, which can be used by anybody who wants to hone their video production skills. The team carries out training for videographers in collaboration with small businesses. Two years ago, Ukraїner also had its video storytelling school provided by Multimedia lab. Now there is an idea to teach content creation for small businesses. Vasyl Hoshovskyi says that in the future he wants to create a film pavilion based in Promprylad, which would let cinematographers make films in the Carpathians without having to spend extra money on transporting the equipment.
“I know that when Promprylad started, even friends from Teple Misto did not have much faith in it, but now it develops so fast and even exceeds the initial expectations. Now the project has already turned into something to affect not only Frankivsk, but all of Ukraine.”
The company, Fin Impact, works in accounting, consulting, and financial management. They currently provide financial operations for the plant’s residents. According to Halyna Hryvnak, the company’s name appeared due to the fact that finances feed any business, and technically are its circulatory system. This is why the company’s activity is aimed to take their client’s business to a larger scale.
Halyna had a desire to join Promprylad due to her principles and the integral wish to change society. Having met the team, she understood that for these active people, who set goals for themselves and work to achieve them, there is nothing impossible. Money for them is a way to reach an ambitious goal, improve and develop society, and make their dreams come true.
“It’s very interesting to watch how over almost four years the attitude of people toward the project changed, the perception thereof, and belief that it can be implemented in this city. And it’s extremely pleasing to know how much people believe in it and these projects, that they are trying to replicate it in other cities of Ukraine.”
An interesting feature of Promprylad is that Yuriy and his team managed to make the Investment Policy Department of the Ivano-Frankivsk City Council their resident. This is a structural department of the city council which promotes the city to attract investment and assists the investors that are already working in the city. It is only logical that the investment department is located in the very heart of investment involvement in Ivano-Frankivsk.
Ihor Popadiuk says that the drive to move was meeting the Promprylad team. Later they spent half a year getting permission to move. He had no inspiration to work in the old building, as the Soviet-style furniture, thick walls, and closed rooms are not the best partners for involving investment. The department team now includes five people sharing the same vision, who have already involved 64 million UAH of investment into the city over four years of work.
“Here, the flow of young people is steady. The flow of creative people just walking around and seeing us here is how the interaction happens. Such spaces where we can discuss ideas and share them with others contribute to generating new ideas and result in new applications.”
This publication is an investment of Ukraїner for the Promprylad.Renovation project.
Involved in the preparation of the material 12 volunteersSupport the project