Regional scale for business

How is Belarusian Vitebsk helping Europe’s medical services? Soon, the streets of Milan, Paris and other European states will welcome new ambulances re-equipped in this Belarusian regional centre

By Sergey Golesnik

Yuri Lyubimov, the General Director of joint limited liability company Grandiscar, recently told us that a decision had been made to set up a Russian-Italian-Belarusian venture to equip ambulances. The company — which opened at Vitebsk’s free economic zone — has showcased its first models of specialised vehicles and latest novelties to the public during the International Investment and Innovative Forum, traditionally held in Vitebsk.

In Vitebsk, Belarusian-Russian Grandiscar presented its specialised mobile laboratory (suitable for working with radioactive materials), reanimobile and intensive care ambulance. Nizhegorodets has been long and successfully operating in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod; Mr. Lyubimov is its First Deputy General Director. The company produces over 500 models of special transport, converting leading global brands. Among them are micro-buses, ambulances and re-equipped cars (meeting defence and law enforcement agencies’ requirements). A similar facility worth $15m is to be built in Vitebsk over the coming five years, able to produce 5,000 re-equipped vehicles annually, with most sold to Belarus, Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Belarusian and Russian businessmen also have ambitious plans to conquer European markets. “Our joint project with the Italians envisages production of medical furniture and salons for ambulances, meeting European standards,” explains Mr. Lyubimov. “Famous Italian company Balanti is giving us its developments and 2m Euros of equipment for installation in Vitebsk. The whole project will cost around 4m Euros.”

Vitebsk’s intensive care ambulances re-equip Ford-Transit vans, while its mobile laboratory for radioactive materials uses a Volkswagen Crafter. For several months, Belarusian border guards have been delighted with the performance of the latter. Soon, Grandiscar is to gain certification of its Iveco buses. “We believe that our manufacture will enjoy huge demand — owing to low prices. At present, elite hospitals in Russia, Belarus and Europe are ready to pay up to 100,000 Euros for a first-rate ambulance, while we can offer a well equipped vehicle for just 50-60 thousand.”

Grandiscar presented its designs at the 6th International Investment and Innovative Forum in Vitebsk, attended by representatives of business circles from over ten states. Some were visiting Belarus for the first time, with the aim of learning more about the local business climate and the Vitebsk Region’s local programmes. Meanwhile, some had been coming to Vitebsk for five years, establishing competitive production facilities in the region. These tend to focus on production of automobile oil additives, cable products, goods made from aluminium and polyvinylchloride, modern clothes and footwear and food.

Dried milk whey is to be made at a regional cheese making plant — much in demand in Europe, while other new projects include those dealing with local fuels: shove, peat and wood chips. Chinese guests have confirmed their interest in the energy sphere. “We are at Vitebsk’s forum for the third time,” said a representative of the Chinese Embassy to Belarus. “Our company is involved in constructing a hydro-electric power station in the Vitebsk Region and we are also interested in innovations. We want to learn more about the developments of Belarusian universities and enterprises. New joint projects might emerge in the future at Vitebsk’s free economic zone.”

Germany sent a delegation to Vitebsk this year, including REMONDIS (involved in waste utilisation) and BE.ST (supplying equipment for oil processing). “I think this visit will be interesting to our businessmen and to the companies in the Vitebsk Region. We plan to visit some of them,” commented the Head of the Representative Office of the German Economy to Belarus, Vladimir Avgustinsky. “The innovative component is vital. Belarus is interested in export oriented manufactures which are in demand in Europe. Meanwhile, Germany is a leading supplier of innovative products and technologies worldwide.”

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