The 31st Economic Forum (also known as the Eastern European ʼDavosʼ) took place in the Polish city of Karpacz on September 6-8. This yearʼs event was held under the slogan ʼEurope Facing New Challengesʼ. Forum included more than 300 debates and several conferences and over 4,000 participants from Europe, Central Asia, and the USA took part in the event.
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In addition to the traditional discussion topics such as economic growth, security, energy, international politics, and innovation, the emphasis was on the topic of the war in Ukraine and the related challenges. The organizers aimed to attract as many Ukrainians as possible to the forum.
One of the guest companies of the event was the Ukrainian family office (investment company) ʼDovgiy Family Office.» Its social direction has been promoting the development of science and education in Ukraine for more than three generations. The Office cooperates with the leading Ukrainian platform for the implementation of educational projects, such as the Small Academy of Sciences (SAS) and its founder Stanislav Dovgiy.
Managing partner of ʼDovgiy Family Officeʼ Oksana Guliaieva attended the forum and shared her impressions about the readiness of Europeans to cooperate with Ukraine, the dynamics of changes in the EU, and the future of Ukraine from the perspective of Europe.
It is important to tell stories and represent the country at international events
This year’s event was very Ukrainian-centric. However, I was confused by the low representation of Ukraine, although the audience sincerely wants to communicate with us. The first thing that catches the eye is that frank stories about the war shock Europeans.
Head of the Trostianets Community of Sumy Oblast Yurii Bova was present at the forum and spoke in detail about the life of the city under occupation and the realities after it. These stories made a sharp impression on those present. Such contacts break down barriers, lift the veil, and allow people to understand our problems better.
Actions after victory. Europeans are ready to invest, but it is needed to plan everything now
The feeling that it is not necessary to wait for the victory to resume and recover the economy is especially intensified at such events. There is another post-war battle awaiting. The one for the future of our children in post-war Ukraine. Battle for investments and fierce competition for them with other countries.
Europe and its businesses are very genuine in partnering with us. However, there was no representative of Ukraine at the panel discussion on financing and reconstruction of post-war Ukraine for some reason. The moderator noted that discussing the restoration of Ukraine without Ukraine is inappropriate. My brother Oles Dovgiy took the initiative. He got on the stage and took part in the discussion of the current economic situation in Ukraine, the potential for future investors, Ukraineʼs understanding of the need for active continuation of reforms, and called on Western people in business to support the recovery of Ukraine with their investments.
We talked to many people at the forum, and they believe in the victory of Ukraine. But all of them ask, ʼWhat are the actions of Ukraine after the victory? What will the rules be like?ʼ So, we must already start our battle to win in the economic aspect. We cannot wait for the end of the war.
Unfinished tasks on reforms
The people of Ukraine live in an optimistic fantasy that the war will end and investments will pour in. Though, we must remember that foreign investors already have many questions. They will calculate their contributions for years ahead before deciding. And they will need guarantees of protected rights before that. Assurances that the gameʼs rules will not change hereafter and investment decision is protected by law and physical and intellectual assets are protected as well.
This is exactly what we should be working on now – to attract foreign and domestic experts, work with business and policymakers to be able to promptly and effectively cooperate with foreign investors.
Innovations, reforms, and talented professionals are the key to successful reconstruction
The opinion about the transfer of modern knowledge and technologies to Ukraine was most often heard at the forum by representatives of Western businesses and partners. Many foreign companies that plan to work in Ukraine are already training Ukrainian specialists in their technologies at their expense. After all, the worst thing we can do after victory is to rebuild Ukraine as it was. Victory is not the end of history. It is a new page, and it will be written by talented, thoughtful, and educated Ukrainians.
We need to return those who left Ukraine. European countries actively assimilate Ukrainians by supporting them in education, work, and prospects. Especially children and young people. We must give a sense of great demand, resistance, and faith in the future to our people in our country so that they aspire to return. Otherwise, our recovery will fall apart due to a shortage of personnel and modern technologies.
Ukraine risks finding itself in the 1990s when we lost a tremendous amount of talent and scientific potential due to mass emigration and brain drain. And unfortunately, it is not Ukraine that celebrates these peopleʼs achievements but countries where they were able to realize their potential.
Brain drain is a critical problem that has to be prevented right now
The war brought crisis that destroys stereotypes. The recovery will require fundamentally new approaches. Ukraine can become a unique source of cool ideas and inventions.
For example, the minesweeper quadcopter, invented by Ihor Klymenko, a student of the Small Academy of Sciences, is the by-product of a talent that found itself in unique conditions. There will be an incredible flow of such challenges after the victory. We must prevent the outflow of talents to create something new and better. Graduates of the National Academy of Sciences patent hundreds of inventions and annually win awards in world scientific and invention competitions.
There are exceptional cases when our children patent their inventions, and foreign countries buy the technology. They provide a grant to a child, and the whole family is offered to move. It is wonderful for the child and their future. But we cannot be calm until these children have a future in Ukraine.
Preserve talents for Ukraine of the future
ʼDovgiy Family Officeʼ and our partners do everything so talented ones can stay in Ukraine and want to return. We create ecosystems for training, development, travelling to world scientific centres and help inventors gain business skills. We do not stop working purposefully so that children and their parents understand that there are all conditions here and that we do need our creative youth. We believe in them by deed, not by word.
The SAS’s students are the only minor participants with access to CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research). They win NASA competitions, and their projects are implemented on spaceships launched by Elon Musk. Imagine what Ukraine could be like if created by such talents. I am sure Ukraine will become a global innovation hub after the war.
The Small Academy of Sciences is the most potent and methodical educational organization in Ukraine and the world. That is why it received the status of UNESCO, and other countries are waiting in line to adopt the experience. But, of course, the topic and understanding of education and talents are also being promoted in Ukraine by other projects. And primarily business-oriented ones.
Osvitoria, Unit City, Platform, and others also understand the importance of developing and maintaining our potential. But we are catastrophically not enough compared to the number of talents that Ukraine should grow and preserve. Our voice is barely heard at a time when we need to create the conditions for a whole class of entrepreneur-inventors to grow. Ukraine, our reconstruction partners, business, philanthropists, and education should also think about these ecosystems now, before the victory.
In order to create and develop such ecosystems, we need to remember about reforms. A free competitive economy with simple rules and transparent mechanisms stimulates cool projects, great ideas, and extraordinary talents rather than stops them. The war showed that our people are unique. They are ʼanti-fragile.» With a competent state policy and the right priorities, Ukraine will surprise the world with its innovation, talents, and rapid development.