Good quality air has a positive effect on our health. It normalises the heart’s rhythm, strengthens the immune system and improves our general well-being.
These beneficial properties have prompted the creation of a unique patented product. They also form the basis of Lviv-based Ukrainian ventilation manufacturer Prana’s philosophy: to help people breathe good quality air and care for our planet.
Prana’s ventilation systems create a comfortable indoor microclimate and provide access to fresh air 24 hours a day. Innovative technologies provide quality air not only for people, but also for animals and plants. Prana recuperators are not only popular with kindergartens, schools, offices and medical institutions, but also agricultural companies, which use ventilation systems in greenhouses and farms. During the war, Prana’s ventilation systems have also helped save lives, as they are used in bomb shelters and basements.
Roman Kuzych and Dmytro Krotov, co-owners of Prana, say that the business was created by chance.
“To some extent we chose the sector because of our personal attitude to life, nature and a safe environment – it is our lifestyle, and our product reflects that. One of our strongest motivating factors was the feedback we received from clients who had been able to solve the issues they were having with the air in their homes, which had a direct impact on their health as sufferers of asthma, allergies and other conditions that worsened with a lack or absence of fresh air,” explains Roman.
The partners started working with construction materials to lower energy consumption through insulation, which caused other issues to arise. The main challenge they encountered was ensuring proper ventilation, which is how the idea of founding Prana came about.
“Buildings can also get sick, for example when moulds and fungi grow, making them unsafe to be in. The problem arises when ventilation is inadequate, ineffective or even non-existent. Smart ventilation systems were expensive, huge and required room. Only large premises, usually technical complexes or office spaces, could afford them. This formed our business idea – how to offer a more affordable solution, based first and foremost on consumer needs,” Dmytro says.
Both partners tried out all the products themselves – first samples, then prototypes – in their own homes, before developing them further.
Fast-forward 20 years, and Prana is still working on increasing energy efficiency and indoor comfort. They currently export to more than 40 countries, despite the ongoing war.
Only 10 years ago, in Ukraine the European market was perceived as difficult to break into.
“We actively took part in international exhibitions, talked to our partners and other businesspeople abroad. They were very surprised that we did everything ourselves, while in Europe they usually work with international programmes, donors, governmental support and so on. We started to investigate and found information on support for small and medium-sized enterprises from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Union,” Roman recalls.
This support enabled the company to introduce a corporate management information system, which helped increase turnover by 86 per cent, decrease the number of delays and mistakes when processing orders, and boost its client numbers and export share.
“Although we spent time on improving processes, most importantly the support opened up new horizons for us,” Dmytro says.
Prana later became one of the winners of the Climate Innovation Vouchers, a joint initiative by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Union (EU). This helped the company expand the capabilities of its recuperators with a smart control function.
“Quality air has always been our priority, so we strived to make the system work accordingly,” Roman says. “If there are impurities in the air, the system responds appropriately, ensuring the comfort and safety of consumers. We also developed a convenient mobile application to manage the system.”
Immediately after the project, Prana received the prestigious Gold Medal (Zloty Medal) award for their development at one of the largest exhibitions in Europe, BUDMA in Poland, in the category of Best Ventilation Product with an important contribution to carbon footprint reduction.
The products meet strict international quality standards, which are critical for entering new international markets. “Financial support has been important, but communication, the exchange of ideas and experience obtained has been even more valuable,” says Dmytro.
In the first weeks of war, Prana’s production and sales came to a halt. However, the company's management realised that business needed to resume, so that it could continue to pay salaries and taxes to support the country. The company also had obligations towards its international partners. Gradually, Prana started to solve logistical problems and within a month production recommenced.
“It was really emotional – when we started to send trucks abroad with our goods, our partners always returned them full of humanitarian support,” Roman recalls. “We were also looking into how our products could be used to cope with the realities of war, namely in bomb shelters, basements, kindergartens and so on. It turned out that our products were extremely popular and helpful for different purposes and premises.”
In the future, Prana is considering expanding its production. The goal is to have assembly lines in EU countries and open a modern climate laboratory outside of Ukraine. The company’s journey continues: it is now actively working with the EBRD on taking advantage of export opportunities, which is of utmost importance during the war.