Andrey Goltsblat takes part in a session of the RSPP Skolkovo working group.

07.10.2010

The RSPP (Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs) has held discussions on the forms of business involvement in the Skolkovo project.

Moscow hosted discussions of a working group coordinating participation by RSPP members in the project to create the Skolkovo Innovation Centre.
 
The discussions were attended by First Deputy Chief of Staff of the RF President Vladislav Surkov, RSPP President Alexander Shokhin, President of the Skolkovo Development Fund Viktor Vekselberg, members of the RSPP Skolkovo working group, businessmen and scientists. Goltsblat BLP was represented by Andrey Goltsblat.

RSPP President Alexander Shokhin opened the discussion, noting that Skolkovo’s business appeal comes from being not only a project enjoying extensive government support but also a training ground for new modes of interaction between science and production, a source of innovative practices, and a forum for discussing topical aspects of modernisation of Russian economy. Mr. Shokhin believes it is very important for the Skolkovo experience to be rolled out among universities, research centres and technology development zones, thus stimulating the innovative infrastructure throughout the country, while its most diverse aspects might be essential for replication purposes - up to and including customs clearance issues, liaising with the immigration authorities, etc. 

The RSPP President followed up by adding that the meeting’s purpose was not only to present the projects, but also to work out the mechanics for project participant cooperation. 

Vladislav Surkov outlined four criteria for project eligibility for funding and implementation at the Skolkovo technopolis.
First, there is the innovativeness of the proposal. In contrast to ‘imitative’ projects, which are in the majority, projects offering real innovations are in the minority. Yet these projects may help overcome the ‘catch-up syndrome’, associated, according to Surkov, with the Russian mentality. Innovative activities should become part and parcel of everyday practices in manufacturing, this being Skolkovo’s main aim. 

Second, “there is, of course, willingness to co-finance together with the government”. Business should take part in financing innovative projects, which should encourage science and business looking for cooperation opportunities.
Third is involvement by Russian universities and foreign scientists. ‘We won’t need to fear a brain-drain if we manage to import brains from abroad’, Surkov commented. Engagement of the best foreign experts in our projects should become the norm. 

Finally, willingness to work at Skolkovo is yet another significant selection criterion. It would not be possible to set up many research and development centres simultaneously, as the experience of creating technparks has shown. That is why Skolkovo must include branches and representative offices of design bureaux, private research organisations and universities in order to attain the ‘critical intellectual mass’ to jumpstart the Russian innovative industry.

‘Practitioners and businessmen are expected to deliver realistic projects’, said Surkov in his speech. 

Vladislav Surkov supported the RSPP President’s ideas about rolling out the Skolkovo experience and preferential conditions into the Russian regions. Surkov did not rule out the possibility that Skolkovo might eventually branch out to other regions with a strong academic infrastructure, such as Novosibirsk or Tomsk, emphasising, however, that, at the outset, it is more important to focus efforts on Skolkovo.

In closing his speech, Mr. Surkov appealed to business for vigorous modernisation and technical re-equipment, as “it is impossible to create a 21st century product using mid-20th century production capacities ”.

Viktor Vekselberg, in turn, reported on the innovation city’s construction. According to Vekselberg, the hub of the technopolis will be formed by a university featuring scientific clusters from Michigan and Boston, surrounded by startup support centres funded with venture money. It is essential that Skolkovo open its doors for research units of the biggest corporations, both Russian and foreign. Siemens, Nokia and other leading companies have expressed their consent to this.   
According to Vekselberg, Skolkovo will be a success if supported by the country’s entire scientific and industrial community. This determines whether the Russian innovation market will grow and demonstrate a demand for innovation, without which Skolkovo will lose its development impetus.

The meeting’s participants presented their innovation projects and shared their solutions on how to build science and business cooperation and create an innovative scientific infrastructure. 

The meeting resolved that Chairman of the Board of Directors of EvrazGroup S.A. Alexander Abramov would be appointed as the new head of the working group. 

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