On 25 October 1897 Nicholas II, the last Emperor of Russia, being in his residency in Tsarskoye Selo, approved the articles of association of a new company – public limited company Dvigatel. The plant started operation on 9 May 1899, its main activity being maintenance of planned railways, primarily production of cars as well as maintenance and repairs of locomotives. The plant employed 4,000 people, including 70 engineers.
In early 20th century, Dvigatel was severely impacted by the Russian economic crisis, with both demand and output quantity decreasing substantially. During the years of World War I the plant manufactured 3-inch and 6-inch shells. After the Tartu Peace Treaty was signed between the Republic of Estonia and the Russian SFSR, economic bonds between close neighbors were also broken and the output quantity immediately decreased.
During the next 10 years, Dvigatel was constantly on the verge of bankruptcy, until it actually did go bankrupt in 1931. The new owners also failed to make the plant successful, by producing only for the domestic market. During World War II Dvigatel mainly manufactured consumables. However, the entire plant sustained damages due to the war and lay in ruins for several years. In 1947 it was decided to bring Dvigatel under the Council of Ministers of the USSR and by mid 1950s the plant was already completely rebuilt. Now Dvigatel manufactured air coolers, hermetic valves, vacuum pumps, and containers of various capacities, among other things. In 1980s the plant started mass-production of nuclear energy equipment and preparations were made to develop a space missile shield system.
With Estonia gaining re-independence, Dvigatel again lost all its market potential and in 1991 it was re-established as a government-owned public limited company. In 1996 Dvigatel was privatized by AS Diamark, established specifically for this purpose, with one partner being AS Mainor.
During the following 10 years the owners tried to restore the production capacity of the former Dvigatel plant, until in 2005 it was decided to completely restructure the plant. In light of the increase in real estate prices and development of city planning, the present Ülemiste City area had become an attractive area for real estate development.
In the spring of 2005, AS Mainor, the so far largest shareholder of AS Diamark, acquired the control packet of the company and decided to undertake surveys on what exactly could be set out on the territory of the former war plant. It was soon understood that Tallinn lacks a modern technology campus, the reference model of which was chosen to be Kista Science City, a technology campus near Stockholm, which is sometimes also referred to as the Silicon Valley of the North.
Today the versatile and future-oriented Smart City – Ülemiste City is located on the 36-hectar territory of Dvigatel.
The article “Suur mootor – Dvigatel” (“Large engine – Dvigatel”) by Margus Kruut was published in the May 2009 issue of magazine Tehnikamaailm.