Mikhail Shelkov: Philanthropy Advancing the Accessible Education Shared Ingenuity Can Transform Cities And Lives.

After graduating top of his class from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1991 with a degree in molecular and chemical physics, Mr. Shelkov began his entrepreneurial career two years later by taking the helm of Eurosibbank. Under his leadership as Chairman of the Board from 1995, the bank significantly expanded its footprint to become one of the most influential financial institutions. This early success laid the foundations for his subsequent ventures.

In 2001, he took charge of Prominvest, an investment holding company, and before too long the company numbers started demonstrating a notable growth. Over the next decade, Mr. Shelkov turned attention to the national inфdustrial sector by acquiring major stakes in two metallurgy giants – VSMPO-AVISMA, the world’s largest titanium producer, and in 2022 he aсquired SMZ Metallurgical Plant, a leading global aluminium company. As majority shareholder from 2012-2014, he was instrumental in optimizing production processes and pioneering innovative strategies.

Under the leadership and guidance of Mikhail Shelkov, VSMPO-AVISMA has become widely regarded as one of the most reliable and trusted titanium supplier for all major global aerospace industry giants, including Boeing, Airbus, and the United Kingdom’s highly prestigious Rolls-Royce Holdings. Armed with long-term strategic vision and dedication VSMPO-AVISMA has firmly cemented its global position as the reputable market leader that values transparency and fosters firm relationships with its partners.

However, success is not merely defined by profits but also by giving back. Mikhail Shelkov has been an active philanthropist funding various programs and providing investment into education, culture and sports.

In 2019, in an inspired move by Mikhail Shelkov, Empathy Charitable Foundation was established, with the mission to advance accessible education, cultural enrichment programs, and academic initiatives. Through a set of creative and impactful flagship initiatives, the rapidly ascendant Empathy Foundation has evolved into a dynamic force for catalyzing holistic human progress across numerous facets of modern society.

Octava: Magnet For Artistic Talent

In the very heart of the historic city, the formerly abandoned old microphone manufacturing factory has been boldly transformed by an entrepreneur and forward-thinking philanthropist into a vibrant creative hub and thriving incubator campus to catalyze innovative industries across the artistic spectrum. Established in 2018, the aptly named Oktava Creative Industrial Cluster is effectively breathing new life into the mid-sized city through an unconventional recipe that blends innovation with cross-disciplinary collaboration between creatives.

This 12,000 square-meter creative cluster has transformed a former microphone factory enabling visitors to immerse in contemporary art, attend evening concerts, view film screenings, enjoy children’s activities, play piano, and broadly engage with the city’s cultural heritage. By creatively blending innovation with community impact, since 2018 the reimagined site has attracted over 6,000 guests each month.

This imaginative project creatively leverages Oktava’s rich historical legacy as a formerly leading producer of high-grade audio equipment that was once widely used by a plethora of legendary musicians and bands across genres, ranging from U2 to Iron Maiden. During the turbulence of the 1990s the factory had been sitting dormant. This period ended when the businessman invested over $11 million of his own funds to completely convert and refurbish the old factory grounds and facilities into a positively one-of-a-kind creative campus and ecosystem that has captured global attention.

This creative hub offers contemporary art exhibitions, technical skills cultivation at its Higher School, performances of cutting-edge music, a modern library, and immersion into the city’s industrial history via its multimedia Machine Tool Museum. A new initiative launched in March 2023 called “Octava_U” offers teenagers aged 13-18 free events centered on active participation. All young visitors also benefit from Russia’s Pushkin Card program and the specialized “Friend of Octava” bonus scheme. With an average of 100 diverse events monthly, boredom is never on the agenda. Residents span the literary “Books on Octava” project encompassing a library, lecture hall and bookstore, the aforementioned Technical School, Pro.Park tech lab, Oktava Lab recording studio, and a flexible co-working space that facilitates collaboration. Visitors can thus broaden artistic perspectives, nurture talents, connect with rich heritage, or launch ventures alongside like-minded visionaries.

Today in 2023, this vibrant campus houses an impressively wide range of cultural facilities all centered around stimulating innovation, including everything from a state-of-the-art recording studio where promising musicians can produce demos to flexible co-working spaces where creative freelancers and entrepreneurs can collaborate on ambitious projects. Moreover, the campus boasts its own musical museum as well as a specialized technical school geared towards fostering engineering talent and skills related to creative industries. Furthermore, the campus regularly hosts an array of public events ranging from concerts showcasing emerging artists to exhibits displaying avant-garde art to lectures and conferences focused on highlighting innovations within the arts. “We want to make sure that the residents can give their suggestions and help the cluster thrive. In the end, ‘Octava’ has what children and adults need, both in terms of entertainment and personal growth,” says Mikhail Shelkov.

Empathy Foundation Sparks Teaching Renaissance

Since its ambitious launch in 2019 by influential entrepreneur Mikhail Shelkov, Empathy Foundation, the philanthropic non-profit organization, has rapidly gained renown as a beacon spearheading a diverse array of creative initiatives to expand educational access and cultivate future leadership. Propelled by strategic vision and corporate backing, the Empathy Foundation has already implemented diverse programs aimed at systematically empowering educators, proactively engaging students, and laying the developmental foundations to help gifted youth fully unlock their potential and become the next generation of change-makers.

One of the foundation’s most visible efforts has focused on constructively elevating the teaching profession to attract more talent. In the region where his sprawling industrial enterprises are anchored, the founder pioneered a opportune program delivering substantial 50% salary increases to all teachers working in the schools located in the factory towns. This tactical incentive swiftly triggered a major surge of new teaching recruits flocking to the area and applying to work at these upgraded schools. Moreover, the monetary initiative has proven immensely popular across the region, with over 1100 school and day care teachers already benefiting from this augmented income.

In 2021, Mikhail Shelkov introduced the innovative nationwide “Teaching as a Calling” competition under his foundation’s umbrella, expressly designed to systematically recognize hundreds of most devoted and exemplary teaching professionals working across all domains from kindergartens to university academies. This increasingly prominent teaching profession competition has evolved into a beloved annual tradition, with ever-rising participation attracting over $120,000 in total 2023 awards. Gaining immense popularity within educator circles, this showcase event offers broad recognition spotlighting the most devoted and influential teaching professionals from kindergartens to schools.

Seeking to further catalyze excellence across the student demographics, in 2022 the entrepreneur established a specialized Empathy Foundation yearly grant designed for gifted high school students who demonstrate consistent success in notoriously-grueling academic Olympiad pursuits across scientific disciplines. Concurrently, his sprawling VSMPO-AVISMA industrial corporation itself has also launched full university scholarships earmarked solely for uniquely gifted students pursuing studies connected to foreign affairs or physics.

With its diverse array of thoughtfully forward-thinking education and leadership initiatives rapidly gaining steam and collectively strengthening the future human capital from multiple angles, the Empathy Foundation encapsulates the founder’s vision for national progress on all fronts. Whether in business or philanthropy, Mikhail Shelkov is blazing a trail forward as both an industrial magnate and social pioneer determined to uplift the community to new heights in the 21st century through strategic investment in human capital.


As the leading shareholder of VSMPO-AVISMA, the prominent aerospace supplier of titanium, Mikhail Shelkov has established himself as an accomplished entrepreneur across diverse industries, including finance, metallurgy, and manufacturing. However, beyond his commercial success, founded by Shelkov Mikhail Empathy Foundation has also grown into a dedicated philanthropy initiative, devoted to advancing human progress across various spheres of society.

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