Innovation in Russia: Can Russia create a new Silicon Valley?
The guards at the gate kept us waiting for half an hour. The taxi driver didn’t have the right papers, apparently. “We know that Russia’s bureaucracy is a big problem. That’s part of what we want to solve,” says the guide. Welcome to Skolkovo, Russia’s bid to build a new Silicon Valley.
On the construction site, things move faster: dozens of workers are busy putting in walls and heating ducts. If things go to plan, Skolkovo, near Moscow, will be one of the world’s biggest high-tech cities in a few years. At nearly 400 hectares, it is twice the size of London’s Olympic Park. It will boast a research university with 1,800 students, 40 corporate research and development (R&D) centres and a “Technopark” housing up to 1,000 start-ups.
More important, of course, will be what doesn’t meet the eye. Skolkovo will be a special economic zone, a bit like Shenzhen in China. Companies based there will receive whacking great tax breaks. They will also get special treatment when it comes to visas and imports.
The aim is for Skolkovo to become the basis for a vast ecosystem that spans all of Russia and brings together researchers, entrepreneurs and investors in five “clusters”: IT, of course, but also biomedical, energy-efficiency, space and nuclear technologies, all of which have deep roots in Russia. This new ecosystem, its champions hope, will help Russia modernise, according to a report in The Economist. >>More here
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