26 – 100 in alphabetical order: George Gogolev, general manager, Severstal Ventures

George Gogolev oversees Severstal Ventures, Russia-based steel, energy and mining group Severstal’s strategic investment vehicle, as general manager.

Severstal brought Gogolev on board from state-owned fund of funds Russian Venture Company, hiring him as head of disruptive innovation in February 2018 where he helped devise Severstal Ventures.

Within the first six months of its existence, Severstal Ventures made a couple of limited partner commitments in venture capital firms Pangaea Ventures and Chrysalix Venture Capital.

The unit has also begun making direct investments, the most recent deals included US-based metallurgical technology developer Arcanum Alloys and advanced alloy developer Modumetal, as well as Airborne, a Netherlands-based developer of automation technology for composite part manufacturing.

Alexander Shevelev, CEO of Severstal, said: “We have launched a digital transformation program. It is our firm belief that this process, along with our marketing strategy, focus on customer care and internal expertise, will enable us to improve Severstal’s overall efficiency in the near future.

“One of the main priorities of our strategy is new opportunities, which involves finding and implementing new technologies and solutions to further enhance Severstal’s business processes. We consider Severstal Ventures fund as well as SteelTech Accelerator, Technopark and Digital business teams an effective instrument of working with open innovations.

“We are convinced that our partnerships with tech companies will drive further innovation in the metals sector.”

Andrey Laptev, director of new business and venturing, added: “Severstal is already an industry leader in terms of global cost and profitability. However, we aim to build on this by strengthening our leadership and increasing the cost gap between us and other producers and providing our clients with even more innovative and unique solutions.

“To achieve this, we are building mutually beneficial partnerships with venture funds and tech companies. Investments in venture capital funds provide unique access to a vast range of projects. In addition to investment income, we expect to receive value add benefits, mostly through introducing interesting technologies which will enable us to maintain our leading cost position as well as develop unique products. We believe that Severstal’s approach is unique to the global steel industry, although it is common in other major industries, such as the energy sector.”

Global Corporate Venturing bestowed New Entrant of the Year award to Severstal Ventures in January 2019, having also recognised Gogolev and senior investment manager Andrei Lesunovskii as GCV Rising Stars respectively in 2019 and 2020.

“The highlights [from the past year] are mostly structural,” Gogolev said. “We have built a pretty robust team with natural sciences backgrounds, international experience and VC or consulting exposure.

“In 2019, our team grew from two to six members,” Gogolev noted. The new team members are Ilya Pavlov, project leader of CCU (carbon capture and utilisation) and hydrogen; Aram Mikayelyan, associate of advanced materials; Alexander Litvinov, associate of plywood innovations; and Max Pustovalov, associate of research and financial modelling.

“We are a small team, but we need to be an urgency ambassador and a disruption visionary,” said Gogolev. “Personnel’s involvement is key; we do not need ‘employees’ – we need startup mentors.”

Speed is crucial both at the evaluation and the implementation stages, according to Gogolev, who added: “To be recognised by the global community, one needs to stop talking and demonstrate commitment.”

Early in his career, Gogolev worked for numerous startups and made personal investments. From that experience, he concluded tech companies needed to have an interface such as corporate venture capital to connect up with large businesses.

GCV Powerlist 2020 PDF