A major challenge, however, does not lie with the fact that the number of operating funds have failed to match the initially planned figure, but with their performance – the existing venture funds so far have funded only 35 innovation companies. By late 2010 the Seed Investment Fund had approved 20 projects2, of which 8 ones fall under medicine and pharmaceutics. This is an encouraging indicator, as until recently expenditures associated with improvement of the population’s health and quality of life were relatively modest (and substantially inferior to traditional technocratic and production priorities).
Behind low operational performance indicators of the venture funds created by RVC were the same causes as those underpinning problems associated with development of small-sized innovation entrepreneurship. These are: an absence of potentially commercialized projects, the lack of qualified managers, a practical absence of business angels and, finally, problems associated with projects appraisal. While Russia has experts capable of running an adequate scientific and technological evaluation, the situation with business experts is catastrophic.
In the light of this, international aspects of the RVC’s operations deserve a particular attention. In 2010, RVC established two funds in foreign jurisdictions, which implies access to the international market for technologies and new venture business practices, which domestic managers needs to master.
In 2010, the Government embarked upon yet another new direction of improvement of the development institutions’ performance and, at the same time, of bolstering the interaction between all the participants in the innovation system – that is, formation of technological platforms. Originally, they were understood as forums for discussions on critical projects and shaping of demand for them. Consequently, however, the concept evolved to imply a group of technologies which should advance with account of those sectors upon which the developed technologies will exert their influence. That said, creation of technological platforms should bolster hi-tech exports, an influx of private investment, and give rise to new hi-tech companies. Accordingly, businesses are to play practically a pivotal role in such platforms; the Government assumes that they should form no less than a half of their participants. In the meantime the Government also forges approaches to bundling the technological platform instrument with measures on “forcing” businesses to innovations (that concerns, primarily, Shekhovtsov M. Venchurnye fondy Rossii – pervye shagi i pervye itogi//Novaya ekonomika. Innovatsionny portret Rossii. M.: Tsentr strategicheskogo partnerstva, 2009. P. 195.
Investitsionny portfel Fonda posevnykh investitsiy RVK//Rossiyskaya venchurnaya kompaniya. The data as of 17 January 2011. –URL: http://www.rusventure.ru/ru/investments/fpi/portfolio.php Date of access: 07.02.2011.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks large public companies – through the compulsory practice of their designing innovation development plans). Private businesses so far have treated the new initiative with caution – a typical record of their contribution to projects initiated by the Government proved negative;
plus, they fear disclosures of confidential information in the process of coordination in the frame of technological platforms1.
The RF Ministry of Economic Development in tandem with the RF Ministry of Education and Science collected 140 applications for projects on implementation of technological platforms. By February 2011 a list of 10-20 state-sponsored platforms will have been built. One of the problems is that there is no vision as to which directions of development of technologies should form priorities for building such platforms: whether they should lie exclusively in the frame of the five “technological breakthrough” directions, or one should not limit himself with the officially set governmental priorities.
6.5.6. Support of Small-Sized Start-ups Regulation of establishment of small-sized start-ups The unfolding of development institutions, Rosnano and RVC among them, compelled the Government to focus more on problems in the area of support of small-sized start-ups. At the end of the day, it became obvious there were very few projects qialifying for the seed and venture financing, the old R&D potential practically exhausted, while a new one was emerging in an insufficient volume. Accordingly, ensuring emergence of new projects to be implemented by small-sized firms necessitates new incentives.
In August 2009, new Federal Act of 02 August 2009 ¹ 217-FZ “On introducing amendments to individual legislative acts of Russian Federation on matters of establishment by budget scientific and educational institutions of economic companies for the purposes of practical implementation (introduction) of results of intellectual activity” came into effect. In compliance with the Act, budget research institutions, including the ones in the system of public academies of science, as well as universities that constitute budget institutions, may become, on a notification basis, founders of economic companies established for the sake of commercialization of intellectual activity results. The Act reads that the said institutions can transfer rights to their intellectual property objects as a contribution to the small-sized firms’ authorized capital.
One year after the promulgation of the Act in question, it is clear the small-sized entrepreneurship has displayed a certain progress; however, there are notable challenges associated with the Act per se, its interpretation by bureaucrats, research organizations and universities, as well as with objective limitations to its enforcement.
The main legal challenges are as follows: first, it is just rights to use intellectual property objects, rather than exclusive rights to them, that are transferred to newly founded small-sized start-ups’ authorized capital. Where budget institutions contribute with one and the same nonexclusive license to several new small-sized start-ups, such firms have low chances to survive.
Tekhnologichskiye platformy kak instrument modernizatsii ekonomiki//Nauka i tekhnologii Rossii.
16.11.2010. – URL: http://www.strf.ru/material.aspxd_no=34973&CatalogId=34910&print=1. Date of access:
Social Sphere Second, in compliance with the Act, the budget institutions’ share should make up no less than 25% in a joint-stock company and at least one-third in a limited liability company. This constrains advancement of partnerships between research institutes and universities with regard to establishment of a small-sized start-up, as at such a juncture each investor’s share would plunge under 50% - the development any investor is unlikely to hail. Plus, this provision forms a serious hurdle to the small-sized start-up’s development, for in the course of the second and subsequent rounds of funding, the budget institution’s share shall not diminish (and that would block investment). Meanwhile, there is no mechanism of reassessment of already transferred by budget institutions and universities licenses. That is why to implement investment-intensive projects a small-sized start-up is left with a sole option at hand – that is, to resort to loans, which is a real albatross for a company of this size.
Third, the Act reads that research organizations and universities may contribute to the authorized capital with the right to use intellectual property results without the property owner’s consent. However, in compliance with the Budget Code, budget institutions (bar autonomous ones) may not control property on their own and without the property owner’s consent. The collision is set to be eliminated in 2011, after coming into effect of Federal Act of 08 May 2010 ¹ 83-FZ “On introducing amendments to individual legislative acts of Russian Federation due to improvement of the legal status of public (and municipal) budget institutions”.
Fourth, the budget institution may not sell its stock (shares) without its owner’s consent.
Enacted since 1 January 2011, Federal Act ¹ 83-FZ grants budget institutions the right to exercise profit-making activities according to their statutory documents, while incomes resulting from such activities and assets acquired at the expense of the said incomes are subject to the budget institution’s control.
Fifth, incomes research institutions and universities derive from their participation in a newly established small-sized company’s operations can be spent not only on operations associated with commercialization of intellectual activity results, but on any of research institution or university’s statutory activity. In other words, such incomes can be spent on purposes other than innovation development, which forms an incentive for management of such organizations to create small-sized companies, rather than to develop incentives for the rise of small-sized start-ups.
There also exists string of other challenges that are not associated with the legislation.
More specifically, the acute cadres hunger is still there, so far as technology transfer procedures are concerned: not just specialists in this field, but even respective divisions at research institutes and universities appear missing. Meanwhile, it is critical that the law with regard to creation and improvement of operational environment for small-sized start-ups is making a pretty dynamic progress.
That said, a serious complication is that the objective of enactment of Federal Act ¹ has undergone a certain transformation. Originally, the Act was supposed to boost the process of commercialization of intellectual activity results; however, it was consequently construed as a necessity for universities to establish small-sized companies and report on their performance. In this regard, all credit should go to the Ministry of Education and Science which started measuring the budget institutions’ research and educational performance by using the number of newly created small-sized start-ups as a key indicator. That many such companies are founded for the sake of reporting, rather than for an actual realization of intellectual activity results can be proved by data on the value of intellectual property introduced as a contribution to the small-sized firm’s authorized capital. As of November 2010, it accounted for under RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks Rb. 20,000 at 72.2% of such firms1, which makes it impossible to launch commercialization, but pretty easy to find and attract, as per the law, an external investor that has the right to introduce his share into the statutory capital solely in the cash form.
Having construed the Act in this veign, universities began to fairly vigorously found smallsized forms, with their contributions to such companies’ authorized capital largely being data bases and software. Meanwhile, companies established at the expense of the transfer of a patent and instrumental models account for just a. 10%2.
As of early-January 2010, out of 364 universities under the Rosobrazovaniye, 33 ones founded 116 economic companies with 881 jobs3. As of 4 November 2010, there already were 591 such companies, which is way below the planned indicators set by the RF Ministry of Education and Science, which had suggested that as of late-2009 there should have been universities engaged in operations of 929 small-sized firms with 11,485 employees4. According to the Ministry, as many as 70-80% of small-sized firms established under research institutes and universities functions actively5, ie the Ministry’s estimates appear more optimistic than the expert community’s ones.
New measures of support of small-sized firms created under universities Encouraged by the enactment of Federal Act ¹ 217, creation of small-sized firms formed just the first step – to grow and develop, small-sized forms need to have an access to funding.
That is why the Government designed and implemented mechanisms of support of smallsized firms created by universities and measures aimed at intensification of ties between the university research and business on the whole.
The first measure implies a competition-based allocation of subsidies to universities on creation of innovation infrastructure. As many as 56 universities became winners of the competition, including 5 federal, and 20 national research universities6. They launched projects on support of three-year long programs of support of incubators, techno parks, legal protection of intellectual property objects, and advanced training programs on innovation activities for their staff.
Such a program is very timely, indeed. In practice, when it comes to even Basic innovation activity 101, the staff of technology transfer centers under Russian universities appear new kids on the block. Thus, for example, a 2010 evaluation of results of trainings in the field of technical entrepreneurship held by the US-based CRDF Global Foundation, showed that 90% of technology transfer centers staff who took part in the workshop found 90% of inputs fundamentally new to them, while the courses taught were basic ones and covered such issues as Data of JSC “Tsentr aktsionirovaniya innovatsionnykh razrabotok”.
Muravyeva M. Bez otkrytoy vuzovskoy statistiki uvazhaemykh reytingov u nas ne budet// Nauka i tekhnologii Rossii. 20 January 2011. - URL: http://strf.ru/material.aspxCatalogId=221&d_no=36411. Date of access:
Innovatsii v vuzakh: vyalotekuschyi rezhim// Nauka i tekhnologii Rossii. 18 January 2010. – URL:
ã.http://www.strf.ru/material.aspxd_no=26759&CatalogId=223&print=1. Date of access: 07.02.2011.
Source: Dyachenko O.G. O prakticheskoy realizatsii Federalnogo zakona ot 02.08.2009 ã. ¹ 217-ÔÇ. A presentation delivered at a workshop on technological entrepreneurship. SFU, 15 October 2010.
Rekomendatsii “kruglogo stola” na temu “Zakonodatelnoye obespecheniye protsessa inregratsii obrazobaniya, nauki i naukoemkogo proizvodstva kak klyuchevogo faktora innovatsionnogo razvitiya Rossiyskoy Federatsii”.
M.: Sovet Federatsii, 23.11.2010. P. 6.
26 milliardov raspredelili po vuzam I kompaniyam// Nauka i tekhnologii Rossii. - URL: http://strf.ru/ organization.aspxCatalogId=221&d_no=34073. Date of access: 07.02.Section 5.