Despite decades of renovation and financial investments, Russia’s largest cities have not been able to equally compete in the race for human capital.

Quantity and Quality

St. Petersburg, as the second largest city in Russia, could easily claim to be one of the most prosperous cities in the world, with a population of 5.5 million people, major ports, industrial enterprises, universities, and logistics centers. However, when compared to smaller cities like Geneva, it falls short in terms of qualitative indicators such as living standards, per capita income, crime rate, landscaping, quality of the urban environment, medicine, education, and gross product.

Geneva, although considered one of the most expensive cities in the world, attracts a high number of foreigners due to its status as the headquarters of world corporations, international organizations, and non-profit organizations. In contrast, the significant number of residents in St. Petersburg who were born outside of the city are mainly from poorer and more depressed Russian regions or immigrants from Central Asia who work in low-skilled jobs for little money.

The difference in development approaches between Russia and Switzerland could explain this disparity. While the city is the highest form of organization in human society, the approach to development and investment in qualitative indicators has a significant impact on the attractiveness and prosperity of a city.

GenevaSt. Petersburg
Population200 thousand people5.5 million people
Attractiveness for life4th in the world400-500th place in the world
Average salary10 000 euro1000 euro

Race Against the Time

St. Petersburg has to balance between its historical role as an imperial capital and the main cultural center of Russia, as well as its status as a gateway to Europe. However, the relevance of its imperial past has diminished over the years, and its cultural importance is now largely dependent on its openness to the outside world. 

Unfortunately, due to various reasons, the city is becoming increasingly closed and isolated, which is not helping its reputation.

In contrast, Geneva has been successful in maintaining its status as an international hub, hosting the headquarters of many global organizations such as the World Health Organization and the European office of the United Nations. 

The city’s success is not based solely on its economy or corporate presence, but rather on its position as an international arbitrator and humanitarian center. Geneva’s openness and transparency have proven to be more beneficial than relying on its power and status alone.

There is Still a Chance to Make It

Instead, the key factor for success in the current stage of human development is human capital, which includes knowledge, skills, and creativity. Those countries and cities that are able to attract and retain talented people and invest in their development are the ones that will thrive in the future. Berezin emphasizes the importance of investing in education and innovation to create a knowledge-based economy and attract the best minds.

He also notes the need for a shift in values and attitudes towards work and life. Instead of the traditional 9-to-5 work schedule and focus solely on career and material success, there should be a greater emphasis on work-life balance, personal growth, and social responsibility.

Berezin believes that St. Petersburg has the potential to become a hub of the new knowledge-based economy, but this requires a change in mindset and investment in education, innovation, and infrastructure. The city has a rich cultural and intellectual heritage, and with the right approach, it can attract and retain talented people and become a center of innovation and progress.

Andrey Berezin, co-founder of the investment company Euroinvest, understands the importance of human capital for the prosperity of a city or country. He believes that the current global race for people is spreading around the world, and attracting high-quality specialists is not only economically profitable but determines all aspects of the life of any city or state. Geneva, for example, is one of the most expensive but prosperous cities on the planet because of its international integration and open doors for organizations and high-class specialists.

However, Russia relies on import substitution, trying to produce everything necessary on its own, which leads to isolation from the international chain of production and supply of goods and services. Andrey Berezin considers the bet on import substitution to be erroneous and emphasizes the need to develop human capital within the country. Euroinvest is implementing several projects related to education, building a new boarding school for gifted children, and investing in high-tech medical developments, creating interesting and well-paid jobs at home for scientists, engineers, programmers, and other world-class professionals.

Euroinvest’s real estate development business also creates projects that not only allow people to buy their apartments but also create a new full-fledged lifestyle with work, sport, recreation, and other activities. These oases of modernity may also be an important factor in attracting quality human capital. In the long term, St. Petersburg can join the race with Geneva and become an attractive city not only for Russians, and Andrey Berezin may be considered a pioneer of this movement.