Russia is injecting $ 4 billion (!) in a huge, new innovation city outside Moscow

10 Dec, 2012

Russia seems determined to make a big splash in tech in the next years. TechCrunch reports that it is looking at modernising its copyright laws, and then there’s the Skolkovo project, a gigantic project aimed at spurring technology startups. It’s an injection of serious cash in the hopes of jumpstarting a tech and innovation hub.

Katia Gaika, deputy director of Skolkovo, at LeWeb

While Russia is historically strong in fundamental science like math and cryptography, it lacks an entrepreneurial culture, says deputy director of the project, Katia Gaika in the WSJ: “Russia has a long-standing history of investing in fundamental science, but we don’t have a history of successful entrepreneurship.”

In a recent report by Telefonica Digital and Startup Genome, Moscow made a very poor showing, ranking only 14th among the world’s leading tech hubs.

The Skolkovo project should change that. The idea is to invest some of gas and oil riches of Russia to invest in future growth, notably in financial services, IT in medicine, green tech, as well as mobile and networking.

The Russion government will spend at least $ 4 billion on building an entirely new city for about 30 000 people – complete with its own police, courts and a unique set of IP rules, the WSJ reports. The city will also have its own immigration policy. Skilled workers can spend up to 30 days in Russia to find a job at Skolkova. If successful, they can be granted a work permit for three years.

According to Katia Gaika, about $ 3 billion will go to the infrastructure of the project. The rest is for programs supporting startups, which will be in the form of grants (not loans) and “tax holidays” of up to ten years.

Skolkova city will be a pilot city, the Skolkovo Foundation claims on its website:

Skolkovo will become a city-laboratory, where the innovations, developed in Skolkovo, will be introduced and approved. The Skolkovo Innovation City will be an energy efficient city, with low or zero emissions of harmful substances. Some of its buildings will even generate more energy than they consume.

Today, the Skolkovo foundation announced that Samsung will be opening an R&D centre at Skolkovo.

Watch a video of the ambitious Skolkovo plans:

Read more: ‘Russia’s $ 4 billion entrepreneur city’

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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