Ukraine: A house in 3D built in less than eight hours

Ukrainian start-up Passivdom can build a house measuring a little over 35 square metres in around eight hours. This feat is primarily due to the use of a 3D printer, which prints out the roof, the floor and walls 20 centimetres thick in next to no time.

Three models of ready-made houses

Layer after layer, the printer – located in factories in Ukraine and in California, USA – churns out the parts of the house that are made of carbon fibre, polyurethane, resin, basalt fibre and fibre glass. Doors, windows, electrical goods, an alarm, solar panels and the plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems then have to be installed by a tradesman, Business Insider reports.

Passivdom offers three models of ready-made houses, but can also make personalised versions. The basic models are delivered without furniture, while the premium houses on the other hand are equipped with a few shelves and a fitted kitchen, as well as a sofa bed or actual bed.

The latter are indispensable, as the houses do not have bedrooms. They are made up of one room that is a little over 35 m2 with a small kitchen and bathroom, and large windows with a view.

Autonomous and mobile

Once built, the houses are perfectly autonomous and mobile. The electricity comes from a battery which stocks solar energy. Running water meanwhile comes from the ambient humidity and is then filtered (though the occupiers can fill the tank directly with their own water). The buildings also have an independent recycling system for waste water.

“We ought to be able to live out among nature, far from civilisation, while still enjoying the comforts of a traditional house,” says Maria Sorokina, head of marketing for Passivdom. “This technology enables us to live out in the woods, in the mountains or by the coast, far away from other people and infrastructure.” The smallest model of Passivdom house sells for around 32,000 euros.

The houses can be pre-ordered in Ukraine and in the USA, and the first models should be delivered before the end of the year.


Ukraine may be on the doorstep of an electro-cars revolution

Amid post-revolution transformations, ongoing fight against corruption and the de facto war in Donbas, there is still a place for progress in Ukraine. At some questions, the country is even more successful than its Western neighbors. In the last few years, Ukraine has become a powerful IT hub. Recently the Forbes told about the country’s digital revolution which is silently taking hold in the form of almost unparalleled adoption of digital crypto-currencies. And now the development of electro-cars market can be added to Ukraine’s accomplishments.

InsideEVs, an outlet dedicated to electric vehicles around the world, gave Ukraine 5th place in the list of the Top EV countries. In it, Ukraine even went ahead of the US and Japan.

The researcher Assaf Oron publishes his rating for the third year in a row. The criteria for it are as follows:

  • 50% of it is sales (mostly market share, but volume and year-over-year change also mattered);
  • 30% production;
  • 15% for buses and 5% for policy/infrastructure.

Ukraine made it to the top due to local groups who made up for economic challenges by importing thousands of used EVs, which is surprising to the author:

“What would you do living in a country with $4,000 per capita GDP, which means that even at ~$150/kWh, new EVs are still priced out of your league? And no domestic auto industry either? Well, some Ukrainians got together, established a conveyor belt of used EVs (half of them Leafs) coming in from the West, lobbied for government support, and in 2016 things really flourished with > 2.5k sales, nearly all > 2-year-old used, jumping five-fold over 2015 and landing the global number four spot for market share.”

The author is also confident that Ukrainians’ motivation for developing in this direction is clear:

With its domineering enemy Russia being an oil power, the desire to punch Big Oil in the face (which I share, heartily) takes on a personal and immediate form in Ukraine.”

The development of Ukraine during the last year is huge.

“In 2015, only enthusiasts drove electric cars in Ukraine,” says Oleksandr Kravtsov, an owner of an electric car. In 2014 he and like-minded people brought one of the first EV’s to Ukraine. A year later, they drove from Kyiv to Monte Carlo in an international EV marathon. Since then, a mere hobby has grown into a business for Oleksandr. Now the enthusiasts own a salon and EV-specialized service stations.According to Oleksandr, if the government supports the field, the results can be even more impressive. He expects that the next step will be the passing the bill On the Promotion of Development of the Market of Electricity Market in Ukraine.

Okeksandr Kravtsov was among the enthusiasts who brought the first electro-car to Ukraine. photo:

According to Oleksandr, if the government supports the field, the results can be even more impressive. He expects that the next step will be the passing the bill On the Promotion of Development of the Market of Electricity Market in Ukraine.

The bill foresees the following steps:

  1. Introducing a zero toll on the most expensive electric components, which will lead to cheaper production.
  2. Introducing a classification for electro-buses, electro-trucks, electric bikes, and bicycles. Simultaneously a zero toll on them will be introduced. This will help to electrify the existing transport in the process of its renewal.
  3. Setting the minimum term of depreciation for electric cars at the level of 2 years. In effect, businesses will be able to quickly reinvest funds into the purchase of electric cars.
  4. Introducing tax relief for the conversion of ordinary cars into electric ones. In result, refurbishment 0f ordinary cars into electric ones will be 20% cheaper.
  5. Introducing tax relief for purchasing electric vehicles, making the process 20% cheaper than at present.
  6. Setting zero excise duty on electric vehicles, electric trucks, electric bikes, and bicycles

Also for making electric transport, its production, and infrastructure, cheaper exemptions should be introduced for importing and supplying imported electric transport, components and elements of infrastructure for five years. The same should be done for services related to electric transport and rent which will improve the business climate in the field.

The Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan is confident that if the provisions of the bill are implemented, prices for the electro-cars in Ukraine will go down by 40%.

Kravtsov says that if the government follows the steps described in the bill, it would be enough for moving the field forward. So far, business have been the leaders of progress in the field:

“The infrastructure for electro-cars in Ukraine outstrips even its close neighbors in the EU. This is just the beginning, which was made due to the efforts of businesses (restaurants, hotels, malls, gas stations) and the first few operators of charging stations. During the last two years the number of charging stations is growing exponentially – doubling every year,” says Kravtsov.

So far Ukraine has 600 charging stations, about 25% of which are in Kyiv.

Kravtsov predicts that in a few years Ukrainians will be able to choose electro-cars as the main car of the family.

According to experts, this year is important for the industry. General Motors will produce an electro-car for the middle class ($35K) with a mileage of 400+/km. Tesla Model 3 will be produced this summer as well. Whether Ukrainians will be able to buy them or not depends on the country’s economy. So far they prefer used electro-cars from the EU and the US.

Last year, 2593 electro-cars were registered in Ukraine. In the first quarter of 2017, an additional 548 electro-cars and 219 hybrid cars have been registered.

Olena Makarenko

About the author
Olena Makarenko is a journalist at Euromaidan Press. In 2014, Olena started to work as a volunteer with public initiatives which focus on building civil society and promoting dialog between people from different regions of Ukraine.


An end to overhearing annoying phone calls? This mask silences private conversations

Abizarre black mask that blocks the sound of its wearer’s voice so nearby listeners can’t hear could be the latest way to protect your private phone calls – as well as silencing loudmouth colleagues.

The Hushme, a device that fits around its user’s mouth and connects to a mobile for phone calls, claims to be able to mute a caller’s speech to anyone in their vicinity.

Although marketed as a product to keep conversations private, it could also be a godsend for anyone fed up of listening to their colleague on the next desk prattle on, or commuters sick of that one train passenger who doesn’t understand the meaning of quiet carriage.

The device is currently a prototype CREDIT: HUSHME

The Hushme, which was showcased at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, connects to a phone via Bluetooth and includes a pair of earbuds for listening. But the core of the technology is the microphone-enabled mask that snaps together in front of a user’s mouth.

As well as insulating voice, users can pick one of several recordings to drown out any remaining sound leakage. They include staples such as wind, ocean and rain, animal sounds like birds, monkeys and squirrels, but also the sound of Darth Vader’s heavy breathing or R2-D2’s bleeps.

A promotional video for the Hushme shows an office worker casually wearing the device around his neck like a set of over-ear headphones, although it is almost certain to draw some odd looks if used in public.

It can be worn round the neck when not in use CREDIT: HUSHME

It has been compared with Darth Vader and Batman villain Bane, but Hushme – a group of Ukrainian engineers based in the US – is hoping there will be enough demand from a crowdfunding campaign for a production run.

The device is set to retail for less than $200


Senstone Smart and Intelligent pendant that converts your voice into text

Ukranian based programmers team came up with the idea to transform the user’s voice into notes. Senstone is a 21st century note taking device. The idea is basically a Kickstarter funded project of smart wearable device which makes it possible to convert user’s thoughts into text on the go.

The idea is named as Senstone which is compact pendant with 3CM diameter; it will record the voice of user and converts it into printed text created by the user. The device has 12 built in languages, including Ukranian and English. The device is is so small in size that it can be pinned on to your shirt, or you can wear it like a pendant or with the wrist strap.

The tiny wearable works by pressing the recording button on Senstone, flashing LED would show that recording is on, to stop the recording user need to press the button again which will stop recording. The crux of idea lies when the recording stops and AI tech takes over, then recordings will be synced to the mobile app and uploaded to cloud, converting the voice recording into the text form.

Senstone team has been developing the device for almost two years now and it is was there on Kickstarter for the funding. The project has raised the required fund of $300,000 since February. The founder of the app Markiyan Matsekh is further going to develop the device.

We can expect the release of this app later this year in September tentatively, according to project’s Kickstarter campaign page.


Ukrainian IT industry employs 100,000 people

The Ukrainian IT industry now employs 99,940 people — up from 89,300 last year — according to the latest report of DOU.UA, an authoritative industry resource. The figure includes programmers, QA specialists, project managers and other IT-related professionals.

Almost half of these professionals live in Kyiv (Kiev). Others are inhabitants of such other major Ukrainian cities as Kharkiv (Kharkov), Lviv (Lvov), Dnipro (previoulsy known as Dnipropetrovsk), and Odessa.

With its Ukrainian offices in Kyiv, Dnipro, Lviv, Kharkiv and Vinnytsia, US-headquartered EPAM is the biggest employer in the industry. Among other industry leaders are such companies as SoftServe, Luxoft, GlobalLogic and Ciklum, if judging by the number of employees, says the report.

With monthly salaries reaching or exceeding $3,000 for certain specialties, remunerations in the Ukrainian IT sector are high or very high by local standards.

Women are becoming more interested in the field. This year the share of female specialists now reaches 15%, up two percentage points from last year.

Ukrainians have shown growing hunger for IT education, according to the study. In 2015, almost 30,000 Ukrainians attended IT courses.

Among the organizations supporting the educational effort is the BrainBasket Foundation, a Ukrainian NGO. Earlier this year George Soros offered his personal support to BrainBasket’s Technology Nation program through the International Renaissance Foundation.

Ukraine’s IT work force could double to some 200,000 by 2020, according to a recent report on the Ukrainian IT outsourcing and software devemopment by Ukraine Digital News and AVentures Capital.

[pdfviewer width=”800px” height=”500px” beta=”true/false”][/pdfviewer]


Ukrainian IT Industry: How to transform Ukraine’s brain drain into brain gain

Returning IT entrepreneurs can help Ukraine to upgrade from breadbasket to brainbasket

In February 1992 my former employer, Digital Equipment of Canada, moved me to Kyiv to develop its IT business from scratch. At the time, DEC was the No. 2 global IT company. Prior to my arrival, the transfer of sophisticated technology was prohibited due to strict Cold War export restrictions. Regulations were relaxed after the Soviet Union collapsed. Even then, in 1991, everyone talked about Ukraine’s IT potential. Twenty-five years have passed and Ukraine’s economy continues to struggle along, taking several steps forward then several steps back.

Despite this, Canada has remained a fervent supporter of Ukraine’s economic, social, and political transformation. Support is partially based on Canada’s strong Ukrainian diaspora, but also because Canada can serve as a good example. With both countries strong in agriculture and technology while bordering a big, influential neighbour, Canada and Ukraine have shared attributes of multiculturalism, diversity, and technology innovation.

As a show of this support, the Canada Ukraine Business Forum took place in June in Toronto. The objective was to increase trade and investment between Canada and Ukraine. Three weeks after the forum, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived in Kyiv. While in Ukraine, he and Canadian Minister of Trade and Development Chrystia Freeland signed the Canada Ukraine Free Trade Agreement (CUFTA), eliminating about 98% of all duties. Promising sectors for trade include aerospace, transportation, energy, agro-tech, defence and security, and information technology. All have the potential to create win-win opportunities for both countries.

As a good example, one of Canada’s largest retailers has contracted more than 700 Ukrainian software engineers to help them develop leading edge IT solutions to maintain an advantage against global technology giants such as Amazon and Ebay. CUFTA will make more opportunities like this possible.

Ukraine’s bountiful brainbasket

One of the most successful panels at the Toronto business forum was ‘The New Ukraine – an Emerging Technology Nation’, where the chasm between Canada and Ukraine’s high-tech ecosystems was evident. The key to Ukraine’s growth in ICT is investment. The problem is not a lack of private capital availability. According to the 2016 Preqin Global Private Equity & Venture Capital Report, global uncalled capital commitments, known as dry powder, stands at a record USD 4.2 trillion.

According to the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Ukraine is ranked the fourth most educated nation in the world, with over 99.7% literacy. Ukraine produces more than 130,000 engineers and about 16,000 IT graduates each year, making it the No. 1 engineering force in CEE. Ukraine is in the top three by number of certified IT professionals globally. Indeed, Ukraine is no longer just the breadbasket of Europe, it is evolving into a brainbasket for global IT.

Ukrainian IT sector can learn from Canada

Despite its strengths, Ukraine lags significantly in attracting venture capital investment. By way of comparison, Canada attracted USD 2.3 billion in venture capital in 2015, while Ukraine attracted just USD 132 million. Nevertheless, IT outsourcing in Ukraine has grown twenty-fold over the last decade, reaching USD 2.5 billion in 2015. The industry is expected to grow to USD 21 billion by 2021.

A recent article in Tech Crunch states that Toronto can become one of the biggest hubs for technology start-ups in North America over the next five-ten years. Both the Canadian federal and Ontario’s provincial governments offer strong support. Federal tax incentives to conduct R&D and economic development agencies such as FedDev Ontario help create, retain and grow businesses while cultivating partnerships. Furthermore, International Science and Tech Partnerships are supported so small companies with R&D programmes can receive financial support to partner with foreign researchers. Ukraine happens to have a good supply.

If we want the brainbasket to grow by harvesting its technology potential, similar programmes should be implemented by the Ukrainian government. Best practices from Canada and other innovation centres such as Israel and Silicon Valley should be adapted to the Ukrainian reality. There is no way to recreate a Silicon Valley in Ukraine and that temptation should be resisted. Building a technopark (i.e. Skolkovo, Bionic Hills etc.) as a real estate project is not the way to go. The government should help create the conditions for entrepreneurship and innovation to thrive, or at least get out of the way.

Ukraine needs return of émigré entrepreneurs

Since independence, Ukraine has suffered from a shrinking population and brain drain. Thousands of young people have left the country – many from the tech sector. They have built careers in technology centres such as Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Toronto. They have gained valuable education and skills that are very much needed in Ukraine. A colleague, Stas Khirman, himself born in Kyiv, is managing partner at TEC Ventures and Co-Chair of the influential Silicon Valley Open Door Conference. He has researched that a minimum of 5% of Palo Alto residents, the heart of Silicon Valley, are Russian-speaking – mainly immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Accomplished entrepreneurs like Jan Koum and Max Levchin, both born in Ukraine, have achieved their success outside Ukraine. They would make wonderful mentors. The tipping point will come when those who left return to Ukraine to build their careers and companies, as many entrepreneurs from India and China have done after achieving success abroad.

Despite challenges, the Ukrainian tech sector has shown that it will continue to grow and prosper. If coupled with a well-defined strategy and best practices from global innovation hubs, and combined with stubborn Ukrainian creativity, the tech sector can play a more important role in Ukraine’s transformation than many realize. Ukraine has the ingredients to be the world’s breadbasket and brainbasket. It just needs the right recipe. Every Canadian knows this.

About the author

Bohdan Kupych ( is Vice President of KM Core and Managing Partner of Borsch Ventures, a technology holding company based in Kyiv with a portfolio of operating and early stage technology companies