Fourteen foreign companies taking part in the Skolkovo Softlanding program recently passed the expertise assessment stage and are now applying for residency.
The Skolkovo Softlanding Program is aimed at making entry into the Russian market easier for foreign businesses. Since its inception in 2019, the program has attracted over a hundred entrants from across the world. The first step for these participants is to get past the “expertise stage” - an assessment by a panel of experts from the Skolkovo Foundation clusters - to see if they are suitable for the Skolkovo ecosystem. The program offers a number of services, including familiarizing prospective market entrants with the rules for running a business inside Russia, lectures, training, seminars, a detailed analysis of participants’ projects, performance goals for the program, operational support and consulting, integration into the innovation center’s community, including introducing participants to Skolkovo residents, and teaching them about Russian culture. The program is conducted entirely in English.
Yuri Saprykin, the vice president for regional and international development at the Skolkovo Foundation. Photo: Sk.ru
Since the most common aims of those taking part in the program are to find partners, investors, conduct R&D, and to find new employees, the program aims to meet those needs.
Throughout 2019-2020, the Skolkovo Softlanding program drew over 100 high-tech foreign companies from 34 countries (Brazil, South Africa, Bulgaria, Hungary, Singapore, Kyrgyzstan, South Korea, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Italy, Serbia, Slovakia, India, Indonesia, El Salvador, Germany, Lithuania, the UK, Canada, Iran, Armenia, China, Israel and others.) all of which work in the fields that the Skolkovo Foundation supports.
The most recent Softlanding program, which took place in an online format for the first time from the 28-31 July, drew 36 companies from 15 countries. Fourteen participants passed the expertise assessment stage; eight have applied for resident status and are awaiting the results, while six are preparing their applications. The majority of the program participants work in IT (15 companies) and biomedicine (9 companies).
Yuri Saprykin, the vice president for regional and international development at the Skolkovo Foundation, stated in an interview with Sk.ru that although the program is little more than a year old, there is increasing interest in it.
“Our colleagues from Korea have already come to us three times now. We gave ourselves the task to attract a hundred companies this year; the year isn’t over yet and we have already achieved that goal,” said Mr. Saprykin.
Given these statistics, it now seems realistic to expect that the Skolkovo Softlanding program will have attracted 120-130 foreign firms by year’s end.
“The companies that applied for residency have done so because they are interested in our market. Russia is not a large country in terms of population, but our fintech, oil & gas and telecommunications sectors are pretty large. As a rule, companies that take part in our program are ones that view Russia as a potential market,” said Mr. Saprykin.
Since the beginning of the softlanding program last year, a number of participating companies have already found partners.
“The companies that have passed the expertise assessment will almost certainly open offices here and I am sure that they will find partners,” said the Mr. Saprykin. “The main task of the Skolkovo Foundation, which Arkady Dvorkovich always emphasizes, is to be integrated into global innovation development in order to have many international partners. Since it is aiming to be international, it would be strange if there were no foreign companies on its territory. That is the reason why we created this program, so that it’s not just a matter of signing contracts with foreign companies, but to physically have them here as residents.”