At the turn of autumn 2022, collectors and connoisseurs celebrated the 75th anniversary of the legendary Soviet radio Festival. The name of the device was not accidental; it was born shortly after the VI World Festival of Youth and Students took place in Moscow. It left a vast cultural mark, and for a long time after its completion, names formed from the word festival appeared on the map of the country.
Such a choice of name was doubly justified. After all, not only did it go into production during the festival year, but it also embodied everything new and modern, literally concentrating on the future in itself. Moreover, one of the main futuristic features of the device was the remote control; it was not controlled by a radio unit, but by a bundle of wires. At the time, however, it was something incredible.
The second detail is that, even those who hadn’t seen this particular model in person, you would always remember it. Its light was featured in movies and mentioned in songs and books. In other words, the radio lamp was much more than just a technical detail.
Now, it is worth telling about another quiet anniversary. In September, a company called S.E.D.-SPb, a subsidiary of the famous Svetlana plant in St. Petersburg, celebrated its 30th anniversary. This company specialized in the production of various vacuum tubes.
Someone could simply make some basic calculations and question that, if the device is 75 years old, how could an enterprise, which is only 30, produce its radio tubes? The answer is clear; there was no separate company in the 50s, but there were production facilities, intellectual potential, and labor traditions, which made Svetlana a solid center of development and production in the electronic industry.
When market reforms started in Russia, the decision to separate several subsidiaries from the large Svetlana, including S.E.D.-SPb, was made precisely to protect their future. Moreover, the management of the parent plant gave its structural subdivisions more independence so that each could find its way in the new market economy.
It turned out that it worked. The plant veterans remember now that this decision turned out to be unexpectedly very timely. The fact is that, in the 90s, there was significantly reduced levels of production for the then-leader in the creation of generator lamps, the American concern Eimac. This opened up for S.E.D.-SPb promising niches, primarily in producing musical instruments and audio equipment lamps. The company was able to take advantage of the chance. Thanks to this, it was able to survive the most challenging period of market reforms in Russia.
Renewal Through Venture Capital Investment
Nevertheless, it was hard to cope with the new economic conditions independently. The subsidiary and main plant managed to survive, but it was not always possible to find sufficient funds to develop and modernize the material base. By the second decade of this century, both companies came to it with unclear prospects for the future. This is where the big St. Petersburg business, represented by Andrey Berezin, owner of the Euroinvest investment company, made sure to have its say.
Berezin and his team acted energetically; they strengthened the management of the plant by inviting an experienced manager from the state concern Ruselectronics to run it, opened up a wide financing channel. In a short period, they were ensured a qualitative renovation of Svetlana and its subsidiaries’ central production units.
In addition, the new owners have adjusted the goal setting; the plant, without abandoning the usual schemes of work under the state defense order, became more actively involved in implementing innovative industrial projects. To make this process more dynamic and bring more significant results, the leaders of Euroinvest created a fundamentally new structural link in the holding structure.
It was the Euro Venture Fund which had 10 million Euros at its disposal, aided by a wide range of experts in necessary fields. These experts, working under the auspices of the fund, are now helping Svetlana, as well as the other two factories in the holding structure, Rigel and Recond, to choose the most potentially successful projects for development.
At the same time, the Euroinvest business people’s cautious attitude towards the plant’s legacy should be particularly noted. There were no severe reductions or losses of really living elements of production. On the contrary, where it was possible, the holding managers tried to strengthen the team, inviting both the already established specialists and talented young people. Consequently, they say that Svetlana is now in a pretty favorable position regarding salaries.
Projects with Revolutionary Perspectives
Have all these efforts yielded adequate results? It would not be easy to give a clear answer, but there are at least a few markers that the rescue of Svetlana, organized by Andrey Berezin, that have paid off.
The first one is the already mentioned influx of young workers. It is known that, in many respects, this is the result of specific measures taken by the managers of Euroinvest; they made a frantic activity on the platform of the leading universities of the North-West to be the first to grasp the most promising graduates and even the undergraduates. However, if the enterprise had not changed and its staff did not see the future, no amount of effort by the management would have convinced the competent young St. Petersburgers to go to the plant instead of business or the public service.
Even this was only an indirect sign. The results of new developments successfully created by the plant staff are much more evident. Moreover, one of the projects has already become a real celebrity: doctors, scientists and central officials are all interested in it.
We are talking about a medical robot for the surgical treatment of lung tumors. It was already mentioned above that Svetlana has specialized in producing various lamps for many decades, and here is one of the traditional products of the plant – X-ray radiation lamps. A modern version of such a radiator is also installed in a robotic complex can irradiate tumor areas with X-rays directly during surgery. According to the specialists, this dramatically increases the accuracy of exposure, along with the effectiveness of the entire treatment.
Many clinics in Russia and abroad are already waiting for the machine and, as one can assume, we do not have long to wait; the last tests and approvals are underway before launching the device into mass production.
There are signs of some other, albeit less high-profile, promising developments. For example, based on the same X-ray lamps, Svetlana created a portable camera for the express analysis of tumor tissues. Thanks to the developed interface, doctors can display a detailed image on a monitor screen or print it out in high quality in a few minutes.
In the same X-ray lineup is the seed quality analysis machine. The device allows you to see through the seed, tracing all the most common problems: infections, parasites, or malformations.
However, the company now knows how to use not only X-rays, but also a much more comprehensive range of physical phenomena. This includes ultrashort pulse radiolocation. The Svetlanov’s have created a sensor based on it, which makes it possible to estimate ice thickness remotely, for example. Such functions can be indispensable for industrial and mining projects in the north in extreme climatic conditions. That is why it was so logical to partner with Gazprom Neft on this project.
Another promising direction is related to devices based on high-frequency currents. In a sense, this is a development of those technologies that help us heat up food in the microwave oven. Only the company has learned how to heat asphalt pavement this way.
Nevertheless, when the project reaches serial production, it may well revolutionize the field of road repair. All because now already laid asphalt is heated with special burners, which affect only the surface layers. High-frequency currents penetrate to the depth and raise the temperature evenly, hence the sharp increase in processing speed and the results’ quality.
Such projects, of course, would be challenging to implement without active cooperation with the country’s leading research centers. Indeed, Svetlana has been increasingly closely involved in partnerships with them in recent years, essentially the result of the efforts of the Euroinvest team.
Not so long ago, work was successfully carried out on a high-frequency plasma generator for the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia. They will go to the structures of Rosatom, and the company’s team will help the Institute of Applied Physics of the Russian Academy of Sciences with the new equipment.
Despite this, while essential and promising, all of the above initiatives are inferior to the endeavor the Svetlanovs took up in the last couple of years. We are talking about the development of a line of biochemical microarrays.
Such microchips have interested scientists and industrialists for quite some time, but the last couple of years have brought them to an unattainable level of popularity. The fact is that biochips are used in the analysis of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) data, and these same PCRs are indispensable in microbiology, including the detection of viruses. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has caused so much trouble since the spring of 2020.
The first samples were created at the plant in 2018, but only after the pandemic began did the next generation of biochips succeed in developing the final product, genetic material analyzers capable of competing with the world’s best counterparts. The Institute of Analytical Instrumentation of the Russian Academy of Sciences became a partner in this work and the creator of the chip-based technology.
What we have achieved is only an intermediate result. Now the company aims to develop a series of ionic diodes and DNA transistors based on modern nanotechnologies, including solid-state nanopores and silicon nanochannels. They are expected to be used as part of equipment for molecular genetic diagnostics.
Priority areas of application of biochemical microarrays developed by Svetlana PJSC:
- Food quality control services, including detection of genetically modified sources (GMI) in food and raw materials
- Customs control and biosafety
- Various sectors of agriculture
Instead of an epilogue, the head of Euroinvest Holding, Andrey Berezin, sees the future of the Svetlana plant and its entire industrial cluster. Unfortunately, we will not get direct and exhaustive answers; Berezin always approaches public speeches very carefully and prefers to keep important information in the shade.
However, even this open information is enough to understand that the owner of Euroinvest looks at his industrial asset not only as a business but as the realization of his social and human mission.
Indirect proof of that is the growing activity of the holding and personally of Berezin in supporting education and working with gifted children. This does not just work to strengthen his own human resources potential; the scope of the head of Euroinvest is much broader than would be required for that.
For example, he not only supports projects aimed at helping young talents, whether among scientists, athletes, or artists, but he could initiate the launch of his own, including a scholarship named after cosmonaut Grechko.
The most compelling argument is the plans announced just a couple of months ago for Euroinvest to build its own academy in St. Petersburg. One company turned out to be able to take on a task that even the government can’t always manage. The site has already been found, construction plans are ready, and there is even certainty about the staff. Andrei Berezin wants to build not just an excellent educational institution but an exemplary one that deals with the most gifted children.
Do we need any more proof after that? Hardly.
Here is a quote from the head of Euroinvest, with which he closed all the questions about his vision of the future and the role of enterprises in it:
“There is now a fourth industrial revolution in the world. All the old stories when markets were important […] are receding into the background. Now, it’s the brains that matter and where they are concentrated that there will be a breakthrough. This is what is of value today; it is brains that will become the key competence of any successful project in the nearest future; this is why it makes sense to invest in them.”
This can only mean one thing: the businessperson has come to the sphere of industry and innovations for a long time. With its unique intellectual potential, the Svetlana plant was an absolute godsend for him. It is no coincidence that this enterprise has become the central platform for developing various technical innovations. Therefore, there is no doubt that, under such a reliable wing, the enterprise will succeed, which means that the green light, which was lit 75 years ago, will burn for many years to come.