restaurateur, businessman, public figure
Mark Zarkhin
What motivated you to partake in this project?
Today, creativity allows not only to create something new, which of course is extremely important, but it also brings a lot of money. Creativity is not just to work in creative professions. This is work in industries, which creative people were not leaders in previously.
Now creative thinking has become the main tool to create a huge money supply and new economic directions. I will not talk about companies with a trillion capitalization, because there are hundreds of thousands of smaller businesses. But today it is an industry that dominates and is developing rapidly. If we want to create a decent life for the people of Lviv, we need to move in this direction.
We researched the work of the creative class and realized that one of the important prerequisites is the concentration of these creative people. Only when people collaborate, communicate, discuss ideas, and implement them together, the effectiveness of creative thinking increases and can turn into major economic, artistic, and social projects.
We searched for a place where such people could gather and concentrate in Lviv. After all, we are not the only ones thinking about this. Some other examples include the Fest Republic, "Jam Factory", coworking spaces and large IT centers. We were looking for a place where different creative audiences, both students and seniors, would be concentrated and where they could find themselves.
We looked at the experience of shopping malls, which, in my opinion, were the entertainment of the 20th century. We want to make people come here not for products, but thoughts and ideas.
Given the location, we expect that Lem Station will become the creative center of the city. Rynok Square is the tourist center of the city, and here is the creative center of Lviv.
We want to make people come here not for products, but thoughts and ideas.
What is creativity for you? How do you define this concept?
Creativity doesn't just appear. It originates from freedom of thought. Such freedom enables critical thinking. And critical thinking is a person's ability to abandon dogmas, to expand their capabilities. The ability not to back down, to tell yourself "I can do it" and to achieve high goals.
A person can do this only if they think freely. This allows someone to think and create. To me, that's the meaning of creativity.
Will this also be a place for those people who do not work in creative professions?
I often get asked, what should the non-creative people do? Will this space become a reservation only for artists? Will it not become a place where they will create a special new caste of people?..
Creativity is a quality any person has since birth. Anyone who wishes can be creative. However, much of what our education, upbringing, dogmas in which we live, and society, which does not allow us to jump beyond the gray, - all this creates a background, making creative development impossible.
The older generation may have some difficulty perceiving the concept. But for young people, for the grandchildren and children of this older generation, this is a great chance to meet the challenges of the problems that exist in today's world.
Because creativity is an opportunity to change one's life flexibly, to easily approach the challenges of an era of uncertainty that frightens many. It is difficult to change if you have already planned your professional life for 20 years ahead. And creativity is what allows it.

In addition to it, it is worth mentioning the three "C's":
critical thinking, collaboration, and communication. All these human traits can be brought up and "purchased" in places like Lem Station.
Can we say that Lem Station is more than just a business?
Of course, this is not just a business. We expect that Lem Station will earn some social capital, which will probably be able to be transformed into financial capital later. But creating opportunities for creative people is the biggest business Lviv can do. Because creative people can create new economies, huge financial flows, new ideas in various fields.
This is the case in even bureaucratic industries. For example, Charles Landry in his book "Creative Bureaucracy" describes the process of change that bureaucrats carry out in pairs with the community. Business in the format of "bought and sold" is outdated, and it remains in the 20th century.
Why are such places important? What is their role?
When we talk about the places that promote the development of the creative industry, the first question arises: what is the creative industry? In my opinion, any industry can be creative, because any direction of human activity can be either repetition or a creation.
We will inspire people to create, learn, communicate, and collaborate. For example, we do not have a factory where we could sew if someone has an idea for a fashion project. But here people have to learn to bake their projects, look for investors and further spread their ideas. We are rather provocateurs of human thoughts.
What role, in your opinion, should Lem Station play for Lviv, the country, and the world?
Let's start with the role that Lviv can play. Lviv is not an ordinary place. Lviv is not just the regional center of Ukraine. This is a city that clearly affects the life of Ukraine. And its influence in many cases is no less, than that of the capital.
And this influence is mostly positive and creative. Lviv has long set trends in development and creative ideas in various fields. This has historically happened, and this is a factor of its global influence.
Lviv as a global city will develop more and more. So far there is not much money. But there are people who, firstly, can create and secondly if creative people stay in the city, Lviv will become global.
We do not know how or what people will think about. We do not know what will go through their heads. However, we must neither regulate nor determine this. Our task is to create the conditions for these thoughts to arise. It is difficult to predict which of them will develop, which will become globally or nationally famous. We are not sociologists, but we are convinced that there is potential here and that it could become an explosive process.
Why should this location be visible on the global map?
This location on the global map will be different in that it is very attractive. It has a history, it has a charm… People who come will be delighted that old industrial buildings have such beauty and aesthetics.
I believe that the people of Lviv have global potential and that this is one of the important places where they will produce global ideas. No building can create global content, it is created by people who can gather there. Our task is to use the attractiveness of this building: to make people with ideas and projects want to come here, unite, work, and from here these ideas spread to the whole world.
But the main thing is the content. It's about what will happen here and what our community will live on.
co-founder and board member of Softserve
Taras Kytsmey
Do you consider yourself a serial entrepreneur?
I would not call myself that. Although, in fact, life pushed me to become one. I studied math at school and college. I wrote a dissertation and defended it.
But on the other hand, I am a goal-oriented person. In the 90s, when it was necessary to survive, one of the ways to achieve more was entrepreneurship. So, I started doing it. But I treated business like math: I understood that there was a task, a short time was given to solve it, during which it was necessary to find the best solution and implement it. And the main thing in this process is the result.
What should a project look like for you to participate in it?
In the 90s I started to develop and build an IT company, Softserve. I often get asked, what is the reason for its success? Today I derived the formula that success lies in two factors: innovation and leadership.
How is Softserve different from most other companies? In my opinion, it is the fact that Softserve involves non-stop innovation. This is a company that changes every day.
Of course, this creates discomfort and stress for some people. However, many are already accustomed to living in an era of change. And when people ask what is stable in Softserve, I have one answer: only change is stable.
Only real leaders can create these changes and innovations. The more of them, the better the company evolves. All we did at Softserve was trying to make people, leaders, and initiatives evolve.
If we talk about the businesses in which I would like to participate, I am most impressed by innovation when working with people. I want to inspire, evolve, and work with real leaders.
We have no stable phases. Today we change one thing, and tomorrow we change something else.
What motivates you to participate in the Lem Station project?
Working at Softserve, I have a real impact on the development of creative IT industries. But innovation is much broader, it is everywhere. If we look at the impact of technology on society today, it is not just about the IT-sphere. It also includes artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and renewable energy. All of this changes people, the structure of labor markets, and much more. Creative industries become more important.
Lviv is a city with long roots of creativity: in science, technology, art, and entrepreneurship. So, I wanted to share my experience in building innovative businesses. Maybe to mentor people and help Lviv keep a course on creativity.
How do you define creativity for yourself?
There is no algorithm for being creative. It is difficult to define this concept. Innovation is any change that brings value. And the first step of most innovations is creativity. We generate creative ideas, but they must bring value to someone.
What should be the balance of sociality, commerce, and influence at Lem Station?
We treat Lem Station as a social enterprise. In my opinion, it is a business where certain social goals come first, and second - an economic model that should make a profit. The project should not be unprofitable, because then there will be no opportunity to invest in the development of this social business.
In the story of Lem Station, we do not aim to make money. We have much better business projects. The number one goal for Lem Station is to create a platform at the intersection of ideas and concepts. Places where we can work together with scientists, technologists, artists, entrepreneurs, and create something new. And this new thing is what we would like to see in Lviv.
Our task is to create this platform. It should be interesting, inspiring, here people should be charged with ideas. This is the main goal.
At the same time, of course, we want this activity to be profitable and for us to reinvest it in the idea.
In your opinion, how many locations like this one would be enough for Ukraine and, in particular, for Lviv?
When it comes to the creative industries and social entrepreneurship, it is always a matter of connecting certain things. When we talk about the ecosystem for the creative industries, it is important to remember that the ecosystem begins with the education system.
This includes Lviv Ivan Franko National University, Lviv Polytechnic, Ukrainian Catholic University, where students study certain subjects and dream about their future. They want to do something in this life, to change this world. They have many ideas, but these ideas need to be "grounded" so that they bring some value.
For these ideas to be applied, there must be a certain innovation system: various accelerators, venture funds, entrepreneurs.
What do we need? We want to create a platform here, where all these people will be able to create a certain synergy, where they will work together and complement each other. It is very important to think outside of the box. In particular, this can be achieved by being able to communicate with different people.
A student who studies, for example, at the Polytechnic, is usually in a specific environment, begins to think differently. But at Lem Station that student will be able to meet artists, writers, and other people. Then someone will automatically go beyond their thinking and will be enriched with new ideas. Our task is to bring people out of the standard so that they can always look further than they are used to.
There is a great demand for uniqueness in the world. We do not want to eat at McDonald's every day, no matter how cool it is. We also do not want to use only iPhones, no matter how good they are. We want something unique!
And this demand creates huge opportunities for people who can be designers of their own clothes, the uniqueness of which is appreciated. We must support and develop these unique ideas, and the demand for them will be 100%. Here and everywhere else.
There is a great demand for uniqueness in the world.
We do not want to eat at McDonald's every day, no matter how cool it is. We also do not want to use only iPhones, no matter how good they are. We want something unique!
What will the space of Lem Station be like?
We have developed a concept of how to build synergies between people who inspire creativity and innovation, who are always interested in something, and who are looking for food for the brain.
We want to virtually divide this object into four zones. The first is the street of communications: it is open both to the residents of Lem Station and to other Lviv residents and tourists. There you can socialize, get inspired, recharge, learn something new, and just have fun. In the second zone, in the right hangar, there will be an event area for speakers with interesting ideas. In the third, we plan coworking for various organizations, accelerators, companies. The fourth zone will be a place of exhibitions and creative workshops.
We aim for the people who will work in these four zones to find common ground and reinforce each other. We need events that will attract creative people. In coworking and workshops, we want to see those companies and organizations that will also be part of this process.
As I already said, it is difficult to describe the creative algorithm and predict it. But there is a certain trend, and we must take it into account. Lem Station should become one of the creative platforms in Lviv. And the more of them, the better for the city. But each must be special and unique, like Lem Station.
Not so long ago we celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Lviv tram. Centuries ago, this house was built by Siemens. There are not so many places like that now. And this uniqueness just makes people feel something special. Because when working in a unique environment you can also create something unique. Want to create something big? Create in cool, inspiring environments. Because it is difficult to work in standard conditions and be a world leader.
What, in your opinion, should be the role of Lem Station in the Ukrainian and global contexts?
And what is global business? First of all, it involves global thinking. You can work in Lviv, with the local market and investors, but, given the global trends, business owners are building it as a global business. Thus, the business has a great chance of success.
Today's Lviv is ready for global challenges, and further expansion may take place. Everything we do here will be discussed in a global context. The most successful businesses will be more active in global markets, and the less successful ones will be less so. But there must be a kind of cauldron, where these ideas are born, boiled, and spread around the world.
All successful businesses must be global. The chances of being successful and not global are low, sometimes simply impossible.
IT, education and innovation businessman
Dmytro Kosaryev
What should a project look like for you to want to take part in it?
First of all, it should be interesting and large-scale. If you look at the history of the projects I've done, it's usually things that no one in the region has done yet. These were big experiments, starting with IT companies, IT schools. The same applies to Lem Station.
It is always interesting to experiment and achieve results. The result always brings enjoyment. This happens when you see certain changes, impacts on the environment, people, and customers that become happy. When you notice that something has changed for the better.
Business is a path of trial and error and failures. And in such a situation, the most important thing is to understand that failure is a part of the cycle where you learn something new, draw conclusions and move on. In my opinion, Lem Station is a project that is very difficult to evaluate. This is one big risk project that possibly can have a positive effect.
We don't know how or what people will think. We do not know what will arise in their heads. However, we must neither regulate nor determine this. Our task is to create the conditions for these thoughts to arise. It is difficult to predict which of them will develop, which will become global and which will become national. We are not sociologists, but we are convinced that there is such potential here and that it could become an explosive process.
What about the history of Lem Station? How and where did it all start?
The concept of a creative city, creative hub, the creative economy has been floating in the air in Lviv for the last 10-15 years. There was a lot of talk about it, there were attempts to do something.
In my opinion, two components are needed here: the critical mass of the creative class and the appropriate infrastructure. And it is not just about offices or Wi-Fi, but about the right environment. That is a place where representatives of the creative class can meet and create something.
I do not just mean people who work in IT. Creativity is everywhere. The most interesting ideas, startups, projects appear at the intersection of different technologies: medicine, IT, mathematics, dentistry. We still do not know for sure who else can come here. The main thing is to create an environment where as many people from different industries as possible will cross paths.
In this case, we can achieve a singular effect. The singularity is not just an increase of 10, 20, 30% per year, but a point at which we can soar quickly and high. Such projects cannot be evaluated or predicted. It is not enough for them to simply build a good excel spreadsheet. We need to believe in this, create environments, and wait for the ecosystem to work and have a positive impact on the environment.
Why is the project called Lem Station?
The project is visionary, aimed at the future. We discussed what to call it for a long time. The idea for the name Lem Station came from Mark Zarkhin.
He suggested: why don't we mention Stanislaw Lem? This is a man who lived in Lviv and wrote a lot. The famous science fiction writer, futurologist. Therefore, he was directly involved in shaping the future.
The slogan of this place is "creating the future".
Our project is also about that. Also, we wanted people to know about Stanislaw Lem. That is why they decided to call this place "Lem Station".
What is your vision for the future of this project? What should Lem Station be in the context of the city, country, the world?
As for the city, we would like to be the foundation for the creative economy of Lviv. To do this, we need to become a project environment that supports the concept of a creative city and unites people around this goal.
Secondly, we see a place for people from different industries, where they could achieve self-realization. It is media, and IT, robotics, and maybe more. We need to set an example. The more successful projects take place on this site, the more people will try to repeat this experience.
Take outsourcing in Lviv, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and other cities as an example. It is very important that someone is a leader. If a person is successful and shows by example that they have succeeded, then there will be a certain number of people who want to follow this example.
This is what happened to outsourcing in Lviv. Several successful companies have sprung up, and people have been working in them for a while, saying, "Okay, I'm not any worse, why can't I do this myself?" Some succeeded and some did not. However, today this industry has grown and developed. The same, to some extent, can be said about the game industry. There were several successful projects in Lviv that people saw and repeated.
Therefore, it is important for us that this platform becomes not just a place where creativity takes place, but a kind of showroom in which we would like to show successful projects. The goal is for as many people as possible to try to emulate and multiply this success. Yes, it is possible that 80% of projects may fail, but at least the remaining 20% will be implemented.
Successful projects become a part of history, a part of this country. We also have to earn a place in the global innovation market. People should not only say that Ukraine is an agrarian country where there is a war. Ukraine must be associated with global and successful projects.
What are global projects? Looking at the economy of San Francisco, many people will say that they are so successful because they are engaged in IT, a science. But in reality, they are primarily creating scalable projects.
Take Uber, for example, it is like a taxi, but this project is scalable. I would like people in Lviv to understand the need to implement global ideas that will be associated with the country. Currently, Ukraine is Petcube and LaMetric. However, the number of such projects must grow.
What is creativity for you? And why do people need a creative hub?
Creativity is the making of something. Creativity for the sake of creativity or art for the sake of art or process for the sake of process is a kind of story. And if we talk about creativity in the concept of American or British culture, it is also about the focus on results. Undoubtedly, creativity is a process. And what is its result?
Once I came across a cool definition that I agree with: creativity is the process of transforming ideas into products and services. Many people are full of ideas, but when it comes to implementation, many ideas just die. In my opinion, a creative city in this aspect is a city that allows you to transform ideas into products and services. They, in turn, generate money and taxes, change the environment.
To do this, there must be a critical mass of the creative class. Where can we get it? First of all, people should be comfortable. The modern creative class is not tied to a place. These are well-educated people who travel holding their laptops. They will gather where they are comfortable and where there are people like them. Lviv has partially fulfilled this task, becoming one of the most comfortable cities in Ukraine. That is why freelancers, designers, and artists come here.
If we talk about a creative hub, our task is to create a place where they can meet, work, share ideas, have support, and create. This is smart work and smart entertainment.
Creativity — is the making of something.
Creativity for the sake of creativity or art for the sake of art or process for the sake of process is a kind of story.
What exactly can be found in Lem Station and around?
The hub has several tasks. Firstly, it is the task of providing a comfortable place to work. It is not just about a nice office, but also about the right neighbors who will work nearby. Therefore, there will be a selection, filtering of people and companies that will be located on this site. We plan to keep this role to form the right community.
Secondly, it is the task of providing a place where people can meet and communicate. It should be a cauldron of different ideas, people from different industries.
Smart entertainment is what Lviv lacks. So far, there is a small choice for evening leisure: gastronomy, several nightclubs, and that is it. There is almost no entertainment that has a purpose. We would like to change the situation and provide this space for this, so we could have events such as comedy stands, variety shows, TED Talks, presentations, and festivals. We want to be very demanding when it comes to these events so that all the activities that will be launched here support the ecosystem.
The third task is openness. We see this space as completely open for any people who want to come and see what is happening here. These are the three basic things that our project is based on, and we choose projects and see if they contradict the basic concept.
In the maker space, people will be able to develop projects physically: when it comes to prototyping, cutting, or testing something.
In the coworking area, people will be able to work and have space for meetings, conferences with good internet, with video cameras. The public area should be a comfortable place to meet partners, customers, and people from other industries. But then the question arises, how do you show the world what you are doing? For situations when you want to show something to the world, there is an event hall. It is a platform where people can demonstrate and defend their projects.
Lem Station is a place with a history. Did you take this into account when choosing a location?
Once this place has already played a significant role in shaping the Lviv environment. The first station, the first tram, was built here. The whole complex was built for the regional exhibition in 1894. This project changed the environment of Lviv; it was already a completely different city after its completion.
The centralized electrification has been introduced, the pavement was laid, the first tram left the station and many other technological things happened. This is a landmark building for the city. My team and I would like to repeat this success; we hope that the former tram depot with an incredible history will change our city and environment once again and push us to further transformations.
businessman, public figure
Oleh Matsekh
What kind of place, in your opinion, should Lem Station become?
Lem Station is a place of the future: today it must show us what we will become in ten years, and then what we must be in the next ten years. Lem Station is one of the centers of creative Lviv. My dream is for Lem Station to be an example to other such communities. I would like to see this as a meeting place at the intersection of the global paths of the creative industries: in the virtual, real, and mental spaces. As many creative people as possible should meet on these roads.
Obviously, this place should look very energetic, be a kind of battery, the charge of which never runs out. People are happy to connect to it and at the same time replenish it. Lem Station is a place where life and movement do not fade.
What should be the relationship between business and ideas in projects like this?
It is important to watch how the world moves. The founders of Google or Facebook did not think primarily about how to make money - the companies had a certain vision and accumulated ideas. People always communicate in it. I want us to implement such approaches. Lem Station will live as long as it is filled with the energy of people and space. A secondary issue in this sense is defining the type of premises: will it be coworking, an event hall, or something else - it is just the distribution of square meters.
What should the space be filled with?
In a broader sense, it is a space where there are no borders. A space filled with activities: those that the city needs and that at the same time create opportunities for the development of creative people of different professions. It can be a platform, for example, for the LvivMozArt opera and classical music festival, the Gavatovych Cat theater festival, and other interesting events. There are already ideas to organize a kind of battle between scientists: when they have little time (5-10 minutes) to convey to the audience their idea and among them will determine the best. We can also imagine an art gallery, an interactive museum, and a sound studio here. At the same time, it is a place for startups, the infrastructure of which will help people develop their potential and meet their peers, share experiences with them.
For us as investors, business is important not in its classical sense, as a way of making money, but business as a tool for implementing global projects. It takes time, it takes people who share our idea and money to make it happen. The function of finance is the evaluation of your project by others. That is, if money is generated here, the idea is viable and interesting to the city, people believe in it, supporting it financially. In fact, trust should become the basic value that this space will provide.
After all, all unique things always come from touch and exchange of ideas. We must fill the space with the best projects. To do this, a separate strategic council should be set up to deal with the selection criteria.
What does creativity mean to you? What is its significance in entrepreneurship?
Creativity gives added value. The idea's author comes up with something that is interesting not only to them but also to other people, so they are ready to contribute funds for implementation. I have great respect for every businessman, for everyone who knows how to make money - this means that a person has created a tool that will make customers give away a share of their money. But if you answer the question in a broader context, then, of course, business is not purely making money - it is a collection of deep processes that do not lie on the surface.
But as a result, they change the world for the better, make it more interesting, more civilized, and show that there are other values besides material things. There needs to be a relationship between people that is based on trust, and this is a core value. And our space will provide it. With trust, with creative thinking, with the ability to create, with freedom we can achieve a lot.
To successfully start any project, I have to live through it. This should be my story that I would like to share. I do not think about money first, or about long-term prospects - the primary impulse is to share, to give. And there must be a takeoff. Nothing will happen if you do not think globally if you are afraid. Fear binds you, it locks you in a frame. The urge to share and flight are the two most important prerequisites for creativity. And the success of any business without creativity is instantaneous, like a bubble doomed to oblivion.
Instead, by involving creativity in your business, you make something new every time. Then this novelty permeates all activities. For me, this is a mandatory organic element of any business. It is like breathing. I cannot imagine the businesses of the teams I work for without creativity – it is so boring. In my opinion, such projects are doomed to fade; they have no freedom, no flight. I travel a lot in Europe, and I see that a lot of projects go out of business after certain bureaucratic rules and frameworks are put in place.
We in Ukraine now have a unique chance to become leaders in the field of creativity. People from abroad that come here, watching our experience, look at us with admiration. They understand that many of these things are impossible for them due to the framework. Sometimes, we do not realize what chances we have and what potential for the freedom we have.
My own approach to life helps me. I never say that nothing depends on us, that everything has long been decided by someone for us. We always affect the quality of our lives, even when we cross the road in the wrong place. It is necessary to do everything that depends on you as much as possible, and then to look at how circumstances develop. At the same time, I never go against the flow, I have learned to distinguish between struggle, worth of effort, and waste of energy. I try to work with people in whom I believe: together we can succeed.
With this confidence, the Lem Station project was established. The other factors aligned, we got an opportunity. After the Maidan, the Resuscitation package of reforms was created, other activities began, in which we broke the previous systems. Fate itself led us. Then Mark and I, Oleksiy Skrypnyk, and others discussed the city's development strategy. We came to a common conclusion: Lviv will develop best as a creative city, where everyone will be able to apply their full creative potential. In fact, this is the very spirit of Lviv, it is a unique city that has always tried to use its own creativity. It is not interesting that Lem Station was the only place like this. In the meantime, many unique projects are being created in Lviv. There is a "Jam Factory", there is !FESTrepublic, REMA factory. Spontaneous development has its own beauty. If we do not give freedom to this process now, we will try to put it in a framework, nothing will work out.
Fear binds you, it locks you in a frame
The urge to share and flight are the two most important prerequisites for creativity. And the success of any business without creativity is instantaneous, like a bubble doomed to oblivion.
What is the significance of Lem Station for Lviv, for the country, for the world in the long run?
The main idea of Lem Station is to create opportunities. The territory itself is a large energy field, and it should be developed comprehensively, together with the adjacent Stryisky Park, the Citadel, the Park of Culture. I now lead a strategic group that oversees this development. It can be said that this will be the new center of Lviv (in a strategic sense): a center not for tourists, but for Lviv residents, where they will be able to work and relax.
© LEM Station. 2019