Big Plans for Russia’s Silicon Valley

Many people already know about the Skolkovo Innovation Center, the Russian project that plans to focus development on key sectors of modern technology, as well as provide a special economic environment for major companies.

Among the priorities of the so-called “Innograd” (Innovation Town) are: space, telecommunications, medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, energy, information technology, and nuclear technology. The Skolkovo Fund has attracted many industry leaders, including {complink 2657|Intel Corp.} and {complink 3426|Microsoft Corp.}, and more recently an agreement was signed with the Finnish giant {complink 3847|Nokia Corp.}.

Under the agreement, in the next year, Nokia will open an innovation centre at Skolkovo, which will become part of its global innovation network. These centers currently exist in only seven countries: the UK, the US, India, Kenya, China, Switzerland, and Finland. The size of the center and scale of its tasks will be comparable to the size and functions of the largest research centers Nokia has at Cambridge in the UK and Lausanne in Switzerland.

It's important to look back to understand the intentions of the parties involved. Ten years ago, Nokia was not represented in China, but now the company's investment is one of the largest in that country's economy. The same can be said about India, where over six years Nokia created one of its key research centers.

Nokia representatives are confident that Russia will also play a major role in the development of the company. However, Nokia also realizes that such an investment is of a long-lasting nature, and the result cannot be expected to be immediate. This is a long-term cooperation agreement with Nokia — one of many important steps in establishing Skolkovo.

Plans for the center include the development of Nokia Connectivity with leading Russian universities with which the company is actively cooperating in scientific research. Nokia has been working with Russian developers and universities for some time. In 2010, developers of Mail.Ru attended lectures and seminars for Nokia Qt developers and met with Sergey Balandin, chairman of the joint Finnish-Russian Open Innovation Program, who spoke about the prospects for software development.

Currently, the Nokia Forum is cooperating with more than 200 Russian companies and software developers. It plans to transfer this experience to the Skolkovo Innovation Center. Also, firms participating in Skolkovo will have access to venture capital from Nokia, according to the agreement.

Esko Aho, vice president for corporate relations and responsibility and a board member of Nokia, said that, given the attention that the Russian leadership and management of the Skolkovo Fund have given the project, they are convinced that the Russian Silicon Valley will give significant impetus to the development of the country.

Viktor Vekselberg, owner and president of Russian multinational Renova Group, said that the next largest company that's likely to conclude a cooperation agreement with Skolkovo would be Intel, and the Center is also negotiating with several other industry giants.

The involvement of these international partners and domestic firms should be beneficial to Russia as it sets about creating its own Silicon Valley.

7 comments on “Big Plans for Russia’s Silicon Valley

  1. tioluwa
    March 3, 2011

    I think this shows great vision on the part of the Russian government.

    The impact of such an initiative and the presence of the likes of nokia and microsoft would mean great things in the near future.

    IN it all i believe the country is also ensurign that whatever development comes out of it all is owned by the company, not just these tech giants coming in to use the countries mental resources to develop to help themselves.

  2. t.alex
    March 3, 2011

    Yes, This is a good initiative. Will this be a challenge for China/India ?

  3. tioluwa
    March 3, 2011

    I expect it to be a challenge to China and India otherwise it would be pointless.

    Everyone seams to want a slice of the cake when it comes to design power.

    We once discussed on this site how USA still dominates the design sector of the electroncis industry but with “Silicon Valleys” springing up here and there, i wonder how long that will last

  4. elctrnx_lyf
    March 3, 2011

    It is clear form the blog that what Nokia wants or for that means what any technology company needs. They need talented work force along with good support from the governments to establish their companies. No wonder Russia will join along with India and CHina in the coming years to help the technological growth evoving in the world.

  5. DataCrunch
    March 3, 2011

    Russia has a highly educated population and it would make sense for Nokia and other companies to set up innovations centers in that country.  Also, it is a good way to not only tap into the local workforce, but also to tap into future consumers. 

  6. prabhakar_deosthali
    March 7, 2011

    If we look at the population of the whole of  Russia,  it is a miniscule 145 million compared to that of China and India together ( 3 Billion total I would guess). So even if we take the educated workforce of India and China it will outnumber that of Rusia by a huge margin. But no doubt Russia will provide another alternative for West Europe and US to outsource their activities and also create a new customer base for their products.

  7. Anna Young
    March 7, 2011

    Prabhakar, I agree with your view that Russia cannot compete with China and India population wise etc. However, I don't think Russia will be looking forward to competing with China or India, but might rather create a unique base in Europe for themselves. I know Britain too wants its own silicon valley; this is where I foresee rivalry.

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