Kirill Mazur, CEO and founder at Center42 Innovation Agency, ex-Head of Ecosystem at UNIT.City Innovation Park.
“Elevator pitch” – ID (short resume – who, what, where)
Center42 is an innovation agency that helps organizations to grow and improve efficiency by investing efforts in innovation. Center42 team helps to launch, develop, promote startup projects, innovative hubs, and corporate innovation programs.
Center42 is an impact-oriented company with a team that completed 30+ ecosystem projects, startup programs, innovative researches for the Ukrainian tech ecosystem, and 40+ startup investments for the last 5 years.
Our goal is to help companies solve their challenges and breakthrough the market with the best innovation in services, products, customer experience.
“Bootstrapping” – When did you start “tech&innovation life” and why? What was the challenge of the sphere?
My first digital business was done when I was 16 years old. And almost all my life was connected with innovation and technology.
I was launching digital products and services for Ukraine’s #1 digital agency. I was a partner of IG.VC venture fund with $11 mln in 40 investments. I was responsible for the launch of the ecosystem of UNIT.City, the first innovation park in Ukraine. Apart from that, I have launched a few startups.
The idea of Center42 Innovation Agency was born during my work at UNIT.City. We were receiving a lot of requests for corporate innovation projects but didn’t have that direction in our strategy and lacked resources to develop it inside the organization. At some point, I decided to focus on corporate innovation consultancy and build an organization that can strengthen the startup ecosystem and innovation market.
“Ninja/Rockstar” – How do you change the ecosystem?
With an impact direction of Center42, we help organizations to launch startup projects, conferences, researches, and educational programs for startups, corporate innovators, and tech industry in general. And we try to perform 5-7 impact projects annually.
Our impact approach targets 3 key things – to bring more international investors to Ukraine, to boost cooperation between startups and corporations, to help corporations innovate as startups do.
“Moat/Value proposition” – The most prominent projects, achievements you are proud of.
Last spring, we carried out the “42 Investment Summit” in Kyiv. We gathered under one roof 350+ tech-oriented people from the CEE region and 50+ investors running over $250 million for investments and over $15 million for grants. It was a case of boosting the Ukrainian tech ecosystem and as well as organizing a powerful place for making successful deals.
Our team together with UNIT.City and Bayer have also launched “Healthtech Innovation Day.” Within it, we have found the best digital health startups in Ukraine, have created an educational program for startups and other innovators in this field, and stimulated the growth of the health tech industry in Ukraine.
While promoting an innovative mindset among corporation leaders and entrepreneurs, we realized the lack of basic investment literacy in Ukraine. Instead of giving up, we created the Ukrainian Investment and Innovation Glossary with key terms and definitions supported by ecosystem players like Lift99 and UNIT.City. In addition, we prepared a couple of new researches about the SaaS market in Ukraine and Ukrainian MarTech Industry.
‘Tech for good” – The next big thing you predict in the next decade for Ukraine
For the last 5 years, Ukraine is becoming much stronger tech and innovation country. Kyiv is #34 among World’s top tech cities now. The Ukrainian IT market has been growing by 20% for almost 10 consecutive years. Grammarly (which was born 10 years ago in Ukraine) is one of the first Ukrainian unicorns now (~$1.2 bln. valuation). On the way, People.ai (~$500 mln. valuation) and Jooble (~$100 mln. valuation), and we hope to see more great companies in this club!
I hope in the next decade, international investors will find out Kyiv and Ukraine as a great tech destination and will fund the next chapter of Ukraine’s amazing tech growth.
I’m convinced that Ukraine has all the chances to become a new investment and innovation hotspot among international investors, world-famous corporations, and entrepreneurs. Ukraine has a concentration of profound tech talents,
I also believe that local corporations will boost cooperation with the startups and will co-design great innovative products and services for the good of the country and the planet. Moreover, cooperation within the innovation ecosystem will strengthen the Ukrainian economy.