2022 brought many unpleasant surprises. Many years of diplomatic and economic ties were severed, and the interests of energy producers and consumers in many countries suffered. The industries of some countries have been affected, forcing them to build new supply chains for a whole range of components and raw materials. It is not always possible to construct these chains without severe losses in the quality or timeliness of supplies. The global healthcare industry, which is primarily built on the principles of international cooperation, has also suffered many losses.
From February to July, supplies of Russian medical equipment to the United States were under an immediate ban. It was later lifted by the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision. However, de facto medical equipment made in Russia still cannot be sold either to the United States or to other countries that have joined the sanctions campaign. Consequently, it’s all about the difficulties of payment and logistics; paying for the goods in the current environment is unusually difficult, as to an equal measure it is in ensuring delivery to the recipient.
Experts unanimously say that Russian health care is the first to suffer from the broken relations that have taken place. It is logical due to a significant part of the modern and complex medical equipment being supplied to the country from the countries that are now on the other side of the sanction’s barrier. The further it goes on, however, the more noticeable it becomes that Europeans and Americans have something to regret in this area in connection with Russia’s withdrawal from the Western medical equipment market.
A Robotic Surgeon Rushes to the Rescue
The more work that remains inside Russia, despite all the difficulties of recent months, work will still continue creating new prototypes of complex devices for medicine. Only if Western countries were previously considered priority markets, now developers, manufacturers, and investors are increasingly looking to the East.
This is precisely what is happening with the robotic lung tumor treatment complex project, which is currently undergoing final pre-production polishing. Its creators are the St. Petersburg plant Svetlana and a consortium of doctors, scientists, and roboticists formed on its basis. The customer for all the work was Euroinvest Holding, which owns Svetlana, and its head, Andrei Berezin.
Participants in a consortium to develop a robotic medical complex for the treatment of lung cancer using X-rays:
- Euro Venture Fund (Euroinvest Holding)
- L.G. Sokolov Clinical Hospital # 122
- Svetlana-Roentgen JSC
- Saint-Petersburg State Electrotechnical University LETI
- CJSC ELTEH-Med (Technopark LETI)
- Central Research Institute of Robotics and Technical Cybernetics
- MRobot development team
The initial plans were for the primary markets to be European states, especially the United States and Russia. For now, the emphasis has shifted to China and South-East Asia. Despite this, the device’s creators are optimistic; even if supply channels are only working in the eastern direction, it can bring up to half a billion dollars annually.
Calculations confirm the validity of these expectations; the total market for such devices in Russia, CIS countries, China and India is estimated at about a thousand units per year. Given that Svetlana’s development is three times cheaper than its most affordable counterpart, it is clear that it will be in high demand once it goes on sale.
It is not only, however, about the price. Far more important are the opportunities offered by the new complex, and they are reported to be unique. The basic principle of the device is the irradiation of X-rays. In contrast to currently accepted approaches to treating tumors, the new development allows you to affect them not outside the human body but inside, right during the surgery. Surgeons remove cancerous tissues and radiate the areas that cannot be removed for some reason. As a result, the effect of the surgical intervention is considerably higher, and the side effects in the form of radiation damage to a healthy body are much lower.
Two years ago, the prototype aroused the positive interest of the country’s government. Russian Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova studied its capabilities and approved the project. She was commended, among other things, for the universal platform approach of the device developers, thanks to which the device can be used to treat oncological pathologies of different systems and organs with minimal reconfiguration.
Fast and Accurate Personal Genetics
Even with Svetlana alone, the complex described above is far from the only development that could find its application in the same United States. In this country today, the industry of personal genetic tests is increasingly developing. People are able to test themselves, trying to protect their health and their children’s health, whether they are already living or just planning to.
Despite all the successes of recent years, the creation of methods for rapid and reliable research of the entirety of a person’s personal genome has not yet occurred.
The fact is that the plant has been active in the field of biochip development for more than five years. Their first generations used technology that allowed the devices to find their application in PCR and polymerase chain reaction procedures. The Svetlanov chips used on the equipment eventually helped establish rapid and high-quality diagnostics of the new coronavirus infection in Russia. In doing so, it allowed for the intensity of the epidemic process to be brought down, moving the formidable Covid into the category of diseases dangerous and challenging to treat but no longer capable of blocking the life of the entire society.
Microchips of previous generations were also indispensable in these other spheres, where it was necessary to identify specific biological agents, starting with procedures for detecting genetically modified components in products and ending with genetic methods of investigation of crimes.
Despite this, the products being developed at Svetlana can show much more ambitious results. The new generation is called microfluidic analytical chips. They combine several developments in nanotechnology, including solid-state nanopores and silicon nanochannels. The result is a quantum leap in the speed and power of computational processes, making it possible to decode the human genome in a reasonable amount of time. This development could have become a compelling contribution of Russia to international genetic cooperation, as well as to the development of this field in the U.S. as the undisputed world leader in such research. Unfortunately for now, these plans will have to be postponed.
The Secrets of Growth in Difficult Circumstances
It is worth turning attention to the fact that the St. Petersburg plant has an exciting experience of cooperation with Belgian and British companies. All of this has been gained in the last eight years, going against the background of the existing sanctions restrictions.
Experts remind us that the Belgians came to Svetlana after a long and fruitless search for the necessary X-ray sources in America and Europe. It was in St. Petersburg that they could get the product quality they demanded.
The plant’s cooperation with its British partner Smiths Heimann, one of the world’s three most prominent manufacturers of securitization equipment, is equally successful. For several years now, the absolute majority, about 95%, of its scanners have been equipped with X-ray lamps produced strictly at Svetlana.
The fully initiated cooperation does not stop even today, although it turned out to be significantly hampered. It may well serve as a model for wider contacts, to which we will have to return sooner or later.
At the same time, considering the last tendencies of Svetlana and the whole holding Euroinvest development, we can assume that even despite all the present limitations, the enterprise will be able not only to keep but also to increase its presence at the high-tech markets. Eventually, they became one of the pioneers in recovering international economic cooperation.
These expectations have a relatively solid basis related to the policy of the holding’s management. Ten years ago, Berezin started to form his industrial package. Svetlana factory was its first element, but it was not the only one. Later on, Rigel (manufacturer of different batteries and accumulator batteries) and Rekond (producing various radio components and microcircuits) were fitting additions.
At Berezin’s initiative, each new acquisition had to go through a deep and expensive procedure of modernization of the industrial base; machines were changed, communication lines were renewed, and buildings were put in order. The investments in each plant amounted to 500 million rubles.
The new owner added to this the changes in the management system. New people came to the management, and there were a few changes made to the configuration. For instance, all the development of new projects at the holding plants is coordinated by a specially established venture fund Euro Venture. There is an expert council with its platform, selecting which of the incoming project applications can provide a breakthrough in their industry. The project of a complex for oncology therapy was put into practice with the support of Euro Venture.
Berezin had also invested in the human resources potential of each enterprise. His representatives actively cooperate with the rectors of all leading technical universities in St. Petersburg. They remain active in recruiting future employees among the students who have not yet received their diplomas. In parallel, at the initiative of the head of the holding, there is a search for already established professionals, including those working in the enterprises and scientific institutions of the city.
A couple of years ago this search resulted in Svetlana employing a group of developers of devices based on high-frequency currents who had been out of work after the specialized institute was shut down. Today, this group works effectively at the new location, and its developments are already of interest to domestic businesses.
Andrey Berezin’s holding does not stop its plans to expand into the field of scientific and innovative developments, even today. On the contrary, he gave an interview this summer in which he clearly outlined his positions. In the head of Euroinvest’s opinion, only reliance on the support of human capital can give Russia grounds to look confidently into the future.
Berezin spoke with journalists about the St. Petersburg portal New Prospect, clarifying his intentions with the project: “Have you read the book Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution? It was written by one of the founders of the Davos Forum, Klaus Schwab. What used to matter was a territory, markets, and raw materials. All of these things are gone and do not mean anything anymore. Now it is the time of the knowledge economy: only human capital and the intellectual potential of a country matter. If you know, you don’t need machines or markets. You come up with the product, and the rest of your product will be brought to you: production and sales. There is a division between those who can create something and those who are useless to the world, even as consumers. This happens everywhere […] the main thing for us is not to fall by the wayside.”
In this article, there was only one mention of a plant owned by a private entrepreneur from Russia, Andrey Berezin. Many such businesspeople in the country understand the importance of scientific development and can support the creation of modern knowledge-intensive products at their sites. Many of them work in medicine and related sectors, including biotechnology. Moreover, considering the traditionally well-developed network of universities training specialists in exact sciences in the country, we can expect that both Berezin and his colleagues will find enough recruits to join the implementation of innovative projects, providing them with results. Restoring cooperation between the U.S. and Russia will be significant given these factors. The importance that directly affects the health and life expectancy of millions of people around the world.
Investment company Euroinvest is a diversified holding company, the structure of which includes companies and projects from different sectors of the economy.
One of the directions of Euroinvest work is legal and engineering support for developing land plots and territories in St. Petersburg, the Leningrad region, and other areas.
At the end of 2017, Euroinvest Group created its construction division Euroinvest Development, which is engaged in the construction of housing and other objects, thus forming an entire cycle development business.
A relatively new direction for Euroinvest is the agro-industrial sector. For example, Agrocluster Krasnoye Znamya in the Pskov region specializes in producing grain and fodder for livestock.
In May 2017, the management of the Euroinvest investment company established the Euro Venture fund with an initial amount of € 10 million. Priority areas for investment are innovative developments in the scientific and technical sphere, as well as projects in the creative industry.
Andrey Berezin was born in 1967 in Leningrad. In 1990 he graduated with honors from Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute. In 1990 he graduated from Leningrad Ustinov Mechanical Institute, where he majored in mechanical control systems engineering. During his studies, he was Lenin’s and Ustinov’s scholar and had scientific publications. In 1990 he was enrolled in a post-graduate course at LMI and started a similar business.
In 1993 he took part in creating the North-West Fisheries Company. In 1995, together with Yuri Vasiliev, he made the investment company Euroinvest, and since then, he has been chairman of its board.
In 2017, Andrey Berezin was awarded a certificate of merit from the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade for his outstanding contribution to the development of the Russian industry and many years of diligent work.