Once, an amusing proposal to declare St. Petersburg a national treasure of Russia was voiced within the high walls of Okhotny Ryad. The idea was never seriously supported, but the attitude toward the city and its inhabitants in the country has always been unique. That makes it all the more interesting to watch the fate of the most prominent natives of the city, which includes one of the iconic businesspeople of the Northwest, the founder of Euroinvest, Andrey Berezin.
For some people, the place of birth is nothing more than a line in their passport. For others, it is a defining component of self-identification. The first option applies to members of the famous World Club of Petersburg. They accept all famous and successful natives of the Northern capital into their membership, simultaneously supporting and encouraging the most outstanding young city talents.
The club is, in many ways, the embodiment of the St. Petersburg spirit and aesthetic. The legacy of its first president, the famous Soviet and Russian physicist, professor, and public and political figure Nikita Tolstoy, son of the writer Andrei Tolstoy, contributes to this. He is an outstanding Russian intellectual, widely known for the highest level of culture and education.
The second president of the club is perhaps even more widely known. He is the director of the State Hermitage Museum; Mikhail Piotrovsky, a scholar of international renown, is widely known for his work in Orientalism and Arabism and his projects to popularize science. His reputation and authority also affects the general spirit of the St. Petersburg club.
Nonetheless, we should not forget that St. Petersburg is not only a city of high culture, but a powerful economic center, where many prominent Russian businesspeople come from. The club’s circle of trustees, which includes highly educated, ambitious, dreamy, and invariably successful people who have conquered many peaks in their lives, does not let us forget about this.
We would like to tell you in detail about one of them. Andrey Berezin, a co-founder of Euroinvest company, has distinguished himself by his success in various spheres, ranging from development and industry to venture investments and agriculture. He is a true business virtuoso who knows how to implement non-standard, meaningful projects while remaining a loyal son of his city who does not forget about his native St. Petersburg.
The main trait of a true stereotypical St. Petersburg is a brilliant education. Berezin graduated with honors from Leningrad school N 239 with a profound study of mathematics. It is one of the best secondary educational institutions in the country. The school received this title three times, in 2015, 2016, and 2017. In 2014, the academy was the first in the country to receive the status of Presidential Lyceum, and it remained the only one until the same title was awarded to Sirius in 2021.
The Soros Foundation is not highly regarded in Russia, but 30 years ago, its opinion was listened to carefully. It is worth noting that the Foundation also singled out the lyceum among all educational institutions in the CIS and named it among the ten best. The mathematics program at the Lyceum, which has always been a major, has received special compliments since the days of the Soviet Union.
Despite this, the school is distinguished not only by its titles but also by its graduates. In different times, there were many notable members that studied within the establishment: Grigory Perelman, the author of the Poincaré Hypothesis proof; Stanislav Smirnov, a Fields Prize laureate; the famous banker Vladimir Kogan; Sergey Fursenko, Gazprombank Vice President, and the renowned musician Boris Grebenschikov. Berezin undoubtedly absorbed this atmosphere of creativity and science and carried it throughout his professional career.
The next stage of education is the legendary Leningrad Voenmech, who graduated with honors. This institution is widely known for its engineering school: among its graduates, there are many military designers and cosmonauts. Not only that, but the SVR Director Sergei Naryshkin and former top Russian Railways executive Vladimir Yakunin graduated from the institute. Berezin planned to stay at the graduate school and even managed to write several scientific articles, but ultimately, he opted for entrepreneurship.
Their brilliant educational background helped him more than once. In particular, his broad outlook allowed him to implement his projects in various spheres successfully, and his acquaintance with the elite circles of St. Petersburg helped him find the most effective solutions and deeply understand the operational situation on the market and in the country’s economy.
Andrey Berezin turned out to be a grateful alumni: for years, Euroinvest has been helping the most promising students of Voenmekh, supporting its scholarship named after cosmonaut Grechko. Unfortunately though, it is much more challenging to satisfy the Presidential Lyceum, there is hardly a school in the country that is better off. That is why Berezin took a different path – he supports other schools in the Leningrad region as to help them reach a higher level.
Berezin bought a set of furniture for the gymnasium in Gatchina, designed according to the methods of the famous Russian scientist Vladimir Bazarny. At the same time, Euroinvest began to develop a project for the newest academy for gifted children, considering the experience of the best academy in Russia. Thus, the most effective practices will be scaled up. This is also an essential trait of Berezin – the desire to contribute to educating as many people as possible.
The academy will be built on the shore of Lake Bolshoye near Vsevolozhsk. It plans to build two types of buildings: teaching and living. We can say that Euroinvest is recreating almost traditional educational institutions of the Russian Empire, which also implies the permanent residence of gifted children together. In full accordance with this concept, the academy provides equal opportunities for science and sports: a gym, a swimming pool, and much more.
Protection of Material and Scientific Heritage
What St. Petersburg inhabitant doesn’t love the city? Berezin is widely known as a defender of St. Petersburg’s heritage. He is brought in as an expert at meetings of St. Petersburg town planning councils and acts as a zealous defender and patriot of his small motherland.
This is tied to a more serious story involving the reintegration of outdated areas into urban space. For example, several hundred hectares in the Svetlanovsky district were recently covered with dozens of abandoned industrial hangars. These are dead industrial halls, which closed at the end of Perestroika due to particularly effective reforms of their former leader. They provided rental space for endless fly-by-night companies but could not perform this function either. It turned out to be a sight to behold; rusted structures, broken glass, ransacked doors, and abandoned corridors attracted many marginalists and photographers. Now the area is returning to the urban landscape: abandoned buildings are being demolished, and new apartment complexes and public spaces are being built. Euroinvest played a vital role – it served as the tank that bought the land, converted it to new categories of use, and demolished the old shops.
This protection of the city’s heritage also manifests itself in other ways. The holding has already bought out the shares of bankrupt enterprises three times, was a member of their management, and carried out successful modernization. This colossal work consists of analyzing the structure of old Soviet production facilities, optimizing their assets, and implementing the investment program. Nevertheless, each time such work was completed.
For example, Berezin saved one of the oldest and most famous domestic brands, Svetlana, better known as Illich Bulb. Many teams were reanimated and successfully entered the competitive market with new products. Thanks to developed investment programs and the work of the Euro Venture Foundation, a complex hardware and software complex for the treatment of oncological diseases, a portable dental X-ray, biochips for PCR-testing produced in St. Petersburg, and innovative silicon materials for power units in chemical and metallurgical productions appeared.
Berezin gladly supports young scientists in the city. Recently, he took part in the Venture Festival, where he gave practical advice to the developers. According to his results, he said the following: “It is pleasant to note that all startups were created by St. Petersburg developers, among the teams of which there is a very high percentage of young specialists, including undergraduate and graduate students. I am deeply convinced that inclusion of young scientists not only in the creation of scientific developments and innovations but also in the process of technology entrepreneurship is the basis for personnel and technological sovereignty of our country.”
Interaction With the Suburbs
St. Petersburg has historically close ties with all the subjects of the Northwest. It is not surprising as the city was mainly inhabited by natives of the Novgorod, Pskov, and Arkhangelsk lands. Moreover, St. Petersburg closed on itself all the trade routes that led to neighboring regions. This condition sealed kinship ties and trade and economic dependence of the old Russian lands on the new center.
This is expressed in the fact that St. Petersburg residents often live in two regions: St. Petersburg itself and some neighboring subjects, where they have a dacha. A striking example: at the height of the dacha season, the population of the Pskov region increases from 600 thousand people exactly twice to 1.2 million. Therefore, a real St. Petersburg inhabitant must have a dacha, and if we are talking about a man like Berezin, it must be appropriate for him. His efforts created an agricultural mini cluster in the mentioned Pskov region, where he bought the land of several farms and combined them into one structure. The resulting Krasnoye Znamya has already increased the number of cows from 200 to 750 and got its fodder base and processing facilities.
Berezin has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the World Club of Petersburg for many years and regularly takes part in the ceremony of awarding young talents of St. Petersburg with a special award from the club Prometheus Star. At the last award, Euroinvest acted as the general partner; it is not only a responsibility but also a great honor, which the businessman himself separately commented:
“We believe that this is important. Here the future has gathered not only in St. Petersburg but all of Russia. We are delighted that most of the winners are nominated in the categories of Science and Scientific and technical creative work. Our fund Euro Venture is interested in developing Russian innovation potential. We hope that the current nominees of the award will one day be able to become the recipient of investment for their innovation projects from our fund.”
The name of the award is recognizably symbolic. Prometheus is a titan considered in ancient mythology a patron of humans. He gave them his main gift of fire, which always symbolized knowledge and enlightenment. It seems that this is the most critical trait of a true citizen of St. Petersburg, not only to be a carrier of fire of knowledge, but through his life to carry the desire to lead people to enlightenment.
Euroinvest builds kindergartens and schools through instruments of public-private partnership, supports a university with a scholarship, participates in public projects, and protects and develops the heritage of its founder’s hometown. The company has expanded its experience and competencies at leading international venues and has won numerous honorary awards and titles. For example, most recently, it was named the most client-oriented developer in the Leningrad region.
In this sense, the words of Mikhail Piotrovsky, the President of the World Club of Petersburg, are very symbolic. He said that not only the members of the club are driven by love for their native city, but St. Petersburg itself is directly dependent on the efforts of its residents. “The city on a swamp can drown at any moment if we do not take care of it,” as the famous scientist characterized the activities of the mission of the organization he heads. As long as people like Berezin serve St. Petersburg, the northern capital will have only the brightest future.