Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairman of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, was elected head of the Skolkovo Foundation Board of Trustees during a meeting on Wednesday, which was held via video conference. The Sk.ru website broadcast the event live.
Dmitry Medvedev opened the meeting by recalling that this year is the tenth anniversary of Skolkovo’s existence.
“Ten years ago, work here began from scratch. There were difficulties and problems, but Skolkovo is no longer just a town that is convenient to work and live in; it is the fastest growing innovation center in Russia,” stated the chairman of the board of trustees.
The numbers speak for themselves: Skolkovo’s revenue in 2019 amounted to over 100 billion rubles representing a growth rate of 45% (36% over three years).
In ten years, private investors have put no less than 130 billion rubles into the Skolkovo infrastructure, two and a half times more than investment from the federal budget. Fifteen billion rubles in grants were handed out. In 2019, the project participants paid approximately 10 billion rubles in taxes to the budget and 15 billion rubles in contributions went into extrabudgetary funds.
Last year, Skoltech gained international recognition and entered the top-100 world universities in the Nature Index ranking. The alumni community already comprises 1000 people and they are all involved in innovation activity.
“The Skolkovo Foundation has already proven its intellectual and financial effectiveness by developing domestic technologies in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data, energy efficiency, etc. Moreover, the growth rate in some sectors is in the tens and hundreds of percent annually,” Dmitry Medvedev highlighted.
According to Mr. Medvedev, a significant contribution by the Foundation in the fight against the coronavirus is the drug, “Avifavir,” which the Ministry of Health approved the other day. The drug’s development and pre-clinical trials were made possible due to financial grants from the Foundation.
However, what is most important to the chairman of the board of trustees is Skolkovo’s participation in implementing the national economic recovery plan.
In the words of the chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, who presented a report on Skolkovo’s activities, innovation is the key to a high-tech economy that will allow Russia to establish its position on a global scale. The Skolkovo Foundation was created 10 years ago with the aim of developing high technology, and its participants’ developments are today used in all sectors.
Skolkovo has managed to bring together thousands of innovative entrepreneurs from all over the country, from Vladivostok to Saint Petersburg; it has raised a total of 180 billion rubles of extrabudgetary investments, it has created approximately 37,000 new jobs, it has registered over 650 patents, it has opened over 60 partner R&D centers, and it has created a regional network of innovation centers that are working according to the same quality standards, so said Arkady Dvorkovich.
“2020 has left an unusual mark on Russia’s economy and the world’s. The government of the Russian Federation adopted a program to restore the economy and I believe it is necessary to emphasize that the Skolkovo Foundation is prepared to make its own significant contribution to this process,” said Mr. Dvorkovich. “A key instrument could be the creation of a registry of innovative companies based on the Skolkovo digital platform, which allows you to bring together companies of this specific profile, to involve them in the appropriate technological chains, and to find in-demand products and services for potential customers.
For the most innovative companies, inclusion in the registry will provide access to support measures intended for small and mediums-sized businesses. In a broad perspective, it will ensure that accumulated innovation potential is not lost, protecting startups that will in turn ensure that Russia’s economy recovers faster. The government of the Russian Federation completely supports the project to create an innovative companies register, and if approval is brought forward then it could be launched as early as June of this year.”
“Skolkovo’s contribution to our country’s economy is determined by the work of our startups,” noted Viktor Vekselberg, the chairman of the board of directors of the Skolkovo Foundation. “In order to improve the quality of the portfolio, we propose two initiatives. The first is the creation of seed funds with the participation of development institutes and the institutes of higher education and the Russian Academy of Sciences, thanks to whom the early stages of innovation and scientific research can be supported. That is important in order to maintain the necessary level to generate new ideas.”
The second initiative concerns the commercialization and implementation of developments and proposals. Nearly 200 companies from the Skolkovo Foundation profile that have ready-made advanced technological solutions encounter problems when entering the Russian and international markets.
“Today, we would like to propose a new approach to solving this task, arising from the change of law that took place last year, which gives the Foundation the right to participate in our companies’ capital,” Mr. Vekselberg stated. “The Foundation’s selective inclusion into the companies that are most prepared will help ramp up the companies’ activities on the market as well as in cooperation with the relevant government agencies. Through regulatory mechanisms, we will first of all advance the creation of virtually new markets and the generation of a government order for advanced technological developments.”
All the speeches at the board of trustees meeting gave positive assessments of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology’s work. Academician Alexander Kuleshov, the president of Skoltech, reported on the institute’s activities. He said that the institute’s plans for 2019 were fulfilled ahead of schedule. Publication activity exceeded the planned target by 50% and indicators for contracts and grants exceeded the target by 30%.
“At Skoltech, we have set ourselves three priority tasks: to accumulate human capital, achieve academic excellence, and build infrastructure,” said the president. “The number of students and teachers has tripled, although that isn’t the main thing; the main thing is quality. Recently, Skoltech’s provost, Keith Stevenson, won the Charles N. Riley Award from the American Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry. Ivan Oseledets, the head of Skoltech’s scientific computing group, received the President of the Russian Federation Award in the field of science and innovation for young scientists and for the creation of breakthrough computing technologies for solving multidimensional problems in physics, chemistry, biology, and data analysis based on tensor decompositions.
Last year, Skoltech achieved global recognition and entered the top-100 youngest universities according to the Nature Index ranking. For now it’s only in 97th place, but it is comparable to the position of universities in South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. The average citation for Skoltech scientists is higher than the global average. Articles have been published in collaboration with scientists from over 1000 foreign universities. We receive scientific delegations and attend events that are significant for the scientific world. We received European accreditation for three of the seven PhD programs. Next year we plan to get the remaining four.
Two hundred startups have confirmed their potential in the field of innovation. Out of 2.9 billion rubles of investments planned for 2020-2021, 2.3 billion rubles worth of firm contracts have been signed (as of June 1, 2020).
And we can say with confidence that Skoltech as a university has happened,” said academician Alexander Kuleshov.