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A new innovation ecosystem is being created in EXPO territory




On September 10 it was one year after conclusion of International Specialized Exhibition «EXPO-2017» in Astana. The reporter of «Kazakhstanskaya Pravda» had a talk with Yerbol Shormanov, Chairman of the Board of «National Company «Astana EXPO-2017», JSC about the EXPO heritage and after-exhibition use of its objects.

- Yerbol Alimkulovich, International Exhibition «EXPO-2017» is already a history. Let us make a small digression into the past and talk about those outstanding 93 days.

- Let me remind that it was initiative of our President to make Kazakhstan the first country on post-soviet area to conduct such a grandiose international event. We had won the right for conducting the Exhibition struggling with a Belgian city Liege.

115 countries from all over the world and 22 international organizations participated in the exhibition. According our registration file we had expected 2,5 million visitors against 4 million people who actually visited EXPO; and 15 % of them were foreign tourists from 187 countries.

Within 93 days we had 220 official events with participation of the heads of countries and governments, there were 39 agreements signed by the countries-participants with representatives from business, scientific and educational circles of Kazakhstan in the sphere of energy supply, construction, investments, etc.

Over 3500 cultural and mass events were held including the performances of world-known artists.

We can state with confidence that our success had exceeded all expectations and forecasts. International Exhibition Bureau recognized the EXPO-2017 as the most successful specialized exhibition in the whole history. And all this was a result of coordinated work of the Government, state authorities and the management of National Company Astana EXPO-2017, JSC headed by Akhmetzhan Yessimov.

Thanks to EXPO project a great image campaign was carried out to promote not only the exhibition itself but our country as a whole. Potential coverage for international promotion was more than 2 billion people.

During the period of EXPO-2017 the capital of Kazakhstan was in the thick of global attention. Astana was included into Top-5 capitals by the event tourism rating (among SCO and CIS countries). As well, our capital was nominated as “The City of Future” by «National Geographic” magazine and entered TOP-10 cities to be visited after the «New York Times».

And was there any multiplicative economic effect for Kazakhstan from conducting the Exhibition?

- There are good reasons to call EXPO-2017 the anti-crisis project in which all regions of our country participated.

National Company Astana EXPO-2017, JSC and Akimats of the regions as well as of Almaty and Astana signed memorandums to involve local commodity producers into construction of objects for International Specialized Exhibition EXPO-2017. 408 local enterprises received the order. They performed works for total amount of 414 billion tenge. It provided opportunity to create over 50 thousand working places including over 17 thousand working places in the regions of Kazakhstan.

We should also note that more than 1400 small and middle businesses had been involved into the process of exhibition preparation. Taking into consideration the tourism sphere the demand in the tour operators’ services increased by 78%, hotel occupancy grew in 3 times. Passenger flows in railroad and air transportation increased by 25% on the average.

- In your opinion, was it topical exhibition theme “Energy of Future” being offered by Kazakhstan that helped our country find itself in the epicenter of scientific progress?

- Advanced technologies presented on the exhibition showed that the whole world is moving to stable alternative energy sources. Having EXPO-2017 conducted in Kazakhstan gave way to «green economy» in our country and a strong impetus to specialists, citizens, young people in promoting their ideas and initiatives in the sphere of renewable energy sources use and implementation technologies. There were presented over 150 most advanced technologies in the sphere of renewable sources of energy from all over the world. 115 innovations were selected to start their implementation and are now on different stages of their development in all regions of our country.

As initiated by the head of the state on the UN General Assembly one of EXPO pavilion shall host the International Center of «Green Technologies and Investment Projects» under UN auspices in order to transfer technologies using the innovation approach and best world practices in transition to the green economy.

When holding the EXPO closing ceremony the President of Kazakhstan stressed out that all premises left after conducting EXPO-2017 must be used for the benefit of the people. Please, kindly tell us about the future of the whole unique complex.

- As per the Concept of after-exhibition use of EXPO-2017 heritage objects approved by the Head of our state we plan to realize large-scaled projects here such as Astana International Financial Center, International Center of Green Technologies and Investment Projects, IT-start-ups International Technical Park «Astana Hub», IT-University and business center.

Astana International Financial Center is to become a leading financial center in Eurasian area and one of drivers to attract investments to the country.

The head of the state pays special attention to digital development of our economy. And such interesting projects as IT-start-ups International Technical Park «Astana Hub» and IT-University, - is a powerful move towards involving our country into the world of digital development.

I would like to note as well that based on the logistic center after its reconstruction we plan to realize the project of International Exhibition Center of 21 thousand square meters to conduct the biggest international exhibitions.

Therefore, the EXPO territory is used to create a new eco-system to realize innovation and breakthrough technologies.

- Let us talk about working objects in the exhibition territory: The Nur Alem Sphere, Congress Center…

- Along with the earlier-mentioned objects it is obvious that the Nur Alem Sphere is a global one being the new world symbol of the energy of future and one of the main visit cards of Kazakhstan. It is not just a museum of future but a functioning scientific and educational center hosting thousands of people every day.

There are public lessons and lectures conducted at the Nur Alem Sphere on a regular base as well as special educational projects Kids & Students Future Energy; over 20 thousand pupils and students from different regions have visited those projects starting from the beginning of the year.

We are updating the content of the Sphere on a regular base to provoke a greater interest of our visitors. In the framework of Robopolice program 17 unique guiding robots are working in the Sphere as well as virtual reality zone where you can make interactive walking along Astana and Almaty cities.

In addition to constant installations and entertainment content we attract and cooperate with the famous world show-projects. For example, «Titan Robot Show that took place in summer period. At present time we have Ball of Robots that demonstrate the last world achievements in the robotics. These shows arise sincere interest and excitement especially on the part of children of school and pre-school age that are eager to visit the sphere again.

The Congress Center being a modern, unique and multifunctional complex deserves to be specially noted. This is the place where the EXPO-2017 opening and closing ceremonies were conducted. Presently we have here international and republican events such as XI Astana Economic Forum, and the World Mountain Congress. As well the Congress center on a monthly basis hosts the performances and concerts of local and foreign stars.

Beside this the commercial pavilions comprise digital offices of KazPost and Service Providing Center for people where they can easily get themselves the required services in a digital format.

- Can you say that the EXPO territory became a favourite recreation area for Astana inhabitants and guests?

- We make every effort to create the most comfortable zone for our visitors.

In the framework of celebration of 20-years of Astana we built a special summer scene where most of events and concerts of local artists have been conducted. The concerts have attracted up to 8 thousand spectators. We have arranged theater and circus shows for children and we plan to go on with this practice further.

There is a unique children’s playground suitable also for the children with special needs in the EXPO territory, restaurants and cafes provide their services, a new parking area of 6 hectares is created.

In conclusion I would like to note: thanks to EXPO presently we have the necessary infrastructure to conduct congress-and-exhibition events of any format on the highest level. And the task of National Company «Astana EXPO-2017» is to promote the realization of the above-mentioned large projects and to ensure effective use of infrastructure.

       - Thank you for the interview.


Interview by Iliya Karpov

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