Social Sphere appraisal of intellectual property, the concept of venture capital, drafting business plans, development of network interactions, market entry technique and strategies, and interaction with investors and business angels. After the workshops, 73% of participants contemplated the imperative of developing a market entry strategy, 68% - perused where potential sources of financing could be found, and 64% - meditated over the need to develop new market entry strategies1. All this is yet another proof of the fact that prior to participation in the workshops the staff at the technology transfer centers had not ever tried such activities, not had they given a thought to the need for running some kinds of operations in relation to commercialization of R&D outputs.
The focus of the second governmental measure was on supporting universities partnerships with economic companies through allocation to the latter of subsidies. That was supposed to encourage universities to carry out R&D for the corporate sector. To this end, up to Rb. mln. in federal grants is allocated annually on the competition basis to corporations that team up with universities, provided 100% corporate co-funding. As many as 112 projects submitted by 107 corporations and 99 universities became victors in the competition, with practically all the research universities (25 out of the total of 29) and the federal universities (6 out of 7) being among them. The group of leading universities that were granted the biggest volume of funding comprised MSU, MFTI, the Siberian Federal University, and LETI. Considering a university’s size, small universities (MFTI and LETI) deserve a particular praise.
While the initiative is very green, it quickly became evident it was not thought through well enough. The participant corporations faced tax challenges, as they found themselves bound to pay the corporate profit tax on the grants they had received from the budget and transferred to universities to carry out R&D works. Meanwhile, the universities, in their turn, notwithstanding the funds were allocated from partner corporations and not from the budget, had to follow provisions of Federal Act ¹94-FZ on public procurements, nonetheless. As a result, a number of corporate winners in the competition refused to partake in the project.
5.5.7. The Skolkovo Project as a Mini Model of the Innovation System A new Government’s project known as Skolkovo can be considered a future local model of a “perfect” innovation system. The RF President announced the start of its implementation in February 2010, and since then the work on the project has gained an unprecedented momentum. From its very onset the project was a state-run one, and this manifests itself in many aspects - from approaches to selection of its location to highest public officials monitoring constantly and closely progress in project implementation.
Originally, it was announced that the location for the innovation city would be selected using such criteria as developed infrastructure and its accessibility2. That is why centers qualifying for the criteria (Tomsk, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg, Obninsk, Dubna, Zelenograd, among others) were ready to compete for the status of “innocity”. But later at the level of the RF Government Skolkovo was picked, and it is a location that does not quite fit the criteria.
Apparently, there were two alternative approaches to the problem. The first approach implied building the innocity from scratch, so that it would bear no signs of legacy of the past CRDF Technology Commercialization Practicum. Vladivostok, RF, May 25-27, 2010. End-of-Practicum Evaluation. CRDF Global, June 2010. P. 12.
Dmitry Medvedev provel soveschaniye po voprosu sozdaniya sovremennogo tsentra issledovaniy//The Administration of the RF President. – URL: http://news.kremlin.ru/news/7061. Date of access: 07.02.2011.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks whatsoever. The other approach was to erect it on the basis of one of the already existing technopolises or science campuses wherein investments had already been made in development of the innovation infrastructure and just a minimum additional construction was required. In the former case, the main reasoning is that in Russia, it is simpler to build something anew, rather than to change the mentality that was shaped for decades. In the alternative case, it was regions that have recently witnessed a substantial influx of investment in their innovation infrastructure, such as technical and engineering zones (Zelenograd, Dubna, St.
Petersburg, Tomsk), that should have looked more attractive. Plus, the said complexes appear most akin conceptually to the innovation city concept.
That the ultimate choice was made in favor of a new spot casts doubt upon effectiveness of all previous governmental initiatives in the area of building innovation infrastructure. It is common knowledge that in the early 2000s the Government emphasized development of technopolises, with respective concepts and methodologies being developed with attraction of EU experts in particular. Then the funding was axed, and technopolises no longer were a priority. In 2006, the Government announced the start of a new infrastructural project – namely, building special economic zones (SEZ), including technical-engineering ones (TEZ). Presently, as many as four SEZ-TEZ have been established, albeit their performance has been low. Some other SEZ-TEZ have just begun developing, because of substantial delays with land development and infrastructure construction processes. What is known today of such zones is just the dynamic of the number of their residents, their investment and production volumes, and the number of jobs created therein. At the same time, residents do not have to physically reside in the zones – their residents are corporations that were registered in a zone and assumed obligations to invest in construction and implementation of science-intensive projects.
Over the 9 months of 2010 SEZ-TEZ became home to 26 new residents, but not so many of them started implementing investment projects. The TEZs’ most general parameters as of October 2010 are presented in Table 19. The data therein allows assertion that it is the Zelenograd zone that posts the record-breaking growth rates from the perspective of production volumes and the number of created jobs. Meanwhile, Dubna and Tomsk run neck-by-neck in terms of characteristics of the output volume per resident, and they both fall behind Zelenograd in this respect. As for the St. Petersburg zone, it is likely to have not started operating at a full capacity as yet. But it is hard to realize what lies behind the figures, what an actual situation in the TEZs is, what challenges they face and how they cope with them, for there is no information even on such generalized parameters as the nature of their output, the level of its novelty, main sales markets, etc.
Table Comparative Characteristics of Technical-Engineering Zones Residents’ investment Volume of resiArea, as hec- Number of resi- record through the Location dents’ output, as Jobs created tares dents whole zone’s life, Rb. mln.
as Rb. mln.
St. Petersburg 129.4 36 148.0 – – Moscow (Zelenograd) 147.0 35 557.0 3 206.0 Moscow oblast 188.0 65 693.0 464.0 (Dubna)) Tomsk 207.0 50 2 559.0 396.56 Source: Data of the RF ministry of Economic Development. Information as of 01.12.2010.
Social Sphere Skolkovo de facto emerged as substitute for the SEZ project, though in the event a SEZ could be considered one of vehicles for commercialization of Skolkovo’s projects, both infrastructural projects might be considered interlaced. Skolkovo has already proved it made up a far more successful project compared with any SEZ. Thus, coordination of matters of land allocation, construction, selection of operational avenues has been completed at an incomparably greater speed. The financial resources that shall be allocated from the federal budget should also be unprecedentedly huge for an innovation infrastructure project: between 20102014 they should amount to Rb. 85.5 bln., including 9.5 bln. in 2010 alone1.
Already in the late-September 2010, Federal Act of 28.09.2010 ¹ 244-FZ “On innovation center “Skolkovo” was enacted. It comprises a number of measures aimed at generation of favorable conditions of life and work in the new innovative city. More specifically, Skolkovo will be granted the following benefits and preferences:
1) Tax breaks for companies operating in Skolkovo: ten-year holidays with regard to the corporate profit tax, land and property taxes, a beneficial rate on mandatory insurance contributions (14% instead of 34%); the right of choice with regard to VAT payments for companies carrying out innovative activities in the territory of the zone, customs benefits;
2) Simplified technical regulation procedures;
3) Simplified procedures of the transfer of land from one category into another;
4) Special sanitary procedures and fire safety rules;
5) Relaxed conditions of interaction with authorities, particularly thanks to formation of special divisions of the federal authorities, such as the Ministry of Interior, the Federal Immigration Service, the Federal Tax Service, the Federal Customs Service, among others.
Skolkovo is an open project, i.e. it is supposed to be expanding in the course of its implementation. Furthermore, even its objectives and parameters should transform, too2. The project, indeed, has been evolving rapidly even in its conceptual part. The today’s information suggests Skolkovo should be formed by four components:
- A backbone university;
- Research centers;
- Large companies’ representative offices, which will tie up business and science, and startups;
- Infrastructural environment.
It is planned to organize research centers across five “technological breakthrough”, or cluster, avenues to have, at least, two centers for each avenue3, with their major objective being support of commercialization of R&D outputs.
One of Skolkovo’s cornerstone should become a technical university. It is planned to build it on the model of (and with contribution by) MIT. At this point, the developments appear controversial. According to the Russian project executives, the signing of the contract with MIT is to take place in the spring of 2011. The contract provides for establishment of a new Innograd oboydetsya gosudarstvu v 85,5 milliarda rubley// Nauka i tekhnologii Rossii. 15 October 2010.
http://strf.ru/organization.aspxCatalogId=221&d_no=34294. Date of access: 07.02.2011.
As asserted by the project executives. See, for instance: Yakubovich V. Sovety konsultanta: Bez prava na oshibku//Vedomosti. ¹210, 09.11.2010; Vaganov A. Izobretat nelzya zaimsnvovat//Nezavisimaya gazeta.
10.11. 2010. P. 11.
The RF President’s meeting with Viktor Vekselberg//Administration of the RF President. 13.05.2010 - URL:
http://news.kremlin.ru/news/7743. Date of access: 07.02.2011.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks technological university with no BA training, but MA and postgraduate ones only1. The Government’s plans suggest that the first enrollment should take place in 2014.
Meanwhile, the MIT staff believe that the problem of the degree of their engagement in Skolkovo has not been finally sorted out as yet. The US side argues that the RF Government’s refusal to establish a full-fledged university is a mistake and the concept for the new university is reminiscent of the Russian/Soviet-style research institutes. That suggests that tuition of future BAs would be carried out using the old “templates”, and they would consequently be re-trained to earn a modern MA. As well, such cooperation cannot be fruitful, unless the MIT faculty and leading researchers succeed in finding Russian counterparts to develop joint scientific projects. So far such an intermutual process has been spotted on the peer-to-peer level, ie between researchers and faculty members, rather than on the executive one2.
This is particularly alarming, as the cornerstone of the concept of innocity is getting stake of the overseas expertise in practically all the project’s components. The Government admitted the nation was incapable to create a fundamentally new innovation city on its own, which is why an intense process of attraction of foreign organizations and individual experts is underway. Whilst the use of foreign expertise is a pivotal condition, it is important to bear in mind that it takes decades for a harmonious innovation ecosystem to unfold. In this respect, it is worth referencing to MIT as a model vehicle for arranging ties between science and industry: it took the Institute some 25 years to master the art of nurturing start-ups.
The main hopes associated with implanting overseas experiences lie with Skolkovo emerging as a center of expanding networks and horizontal ties, including social networks, and giving rise to a new culture of scientific, production and innovative activities. Meanwhile, one of the gravest concerns is that Skolkovo may mutate into an intellectual outsourcing center: in such circumstances Russia once again would be selling R&D outputs, with Western companies marketing them overseas, as the innovation environment and the domestic market for innovative products in the country have remained nascent.
It is envisaged that the project should start paying off no later than in 2015. Indeed, building a whole city from scratch takes quite a time. Hence, a logical question as to a possibility for the kick-off of implementation of innovation projects before the infrastructure is complete, ie. in the “virtual” mode. Pres. Medvedev first rejected the approach as he was afraid that under the Center’s signage “there will be functioning a whole lot of structures not at all associated with it”3. Later, however, it was decided that it would make sense to start funding projects (with all the benefits due) located beyond the future city’s boundaries. The process of selection of recipient projects started after adoption of the Skolkovo’s Mandate4.
Innovatsii i chastno-gosudarstvennoye partnerstvo. A presentation by O. Alexeev, Vice President and Chief Managing Director for education and research of the Skolkovo Foundation at the workshop “Developing higher education and research in Russia and the Netherlands”. Moscow, the Mission of the European Commission to Russia. 24 November 2010.
Source: the author’s private correspondence with the MIT participants in the discussion on Skolkovo. The data as of 25 November 2010.