The future of world energy and environmental security, the opportunities in international cooperation in different fields, prospective technological fields, and support from businesses for innovative projects were the main topics for Skolkovo Foundation (VEB.RF) speakers during the second day of the St. Petersburg Economic Forum 2021. As a result, the Foundation reached several promising agreements with Russian and international partners.
Joint Future between Qatar Development Banks and the Skolkovo Foundation
The Qatar Development Bank and the Skolkovo Foundation signed a memorandum binding an already existing collaboration; the main focus is mutual support of technology teams. It will help ease the process for startups making a market entry in Qatar and Russia, including through the Skolkovo Softlanding Program. It will also allow Qatar companies to join the Skolkovo ecosystem. Aside from that, it also means joint participation by both organizations in events of mutual interest, including investment opportunities and accreditation programs.
The signing of the memorandum between the Skolkovo Foundation and Qatar Development Bank. Photo: Sk.ru.
Art and Technical Workshops at Skolkovo
The Skolkovo Foundation, the National Research University Higher School of Economics, and the Center for the Development of Effective Education signed a public-private partnership agreement. All sides agreed to establish art and technical workshops at Skolkovo Innovation Center to train specialists in creative industries, with active involvement in the training process in the selected professions.
In the agreement framework, new educational programs will be developed based upon higher, secondary, and general education using innovative digital models: distance learning mechanisms, gamification and the adoption of VR/AR, individual educational trajectories using artificial intelligence.
The chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, Arkady Dvorkovich, stated that “Skolkovo is a place where startups get support, where participants are prepared to create the new, and change lives and the relationship with creative industries in Russia. The project for art-technical workshops will be one of our flagships. We will be happy to offer our expertise on this. Thousands of people working at the innovation center are interested in ensuring that they and their kids receive the relevant qualifications. The place and the selected partners are ideal – together, we can implement this wonderful project.”
The Skolkovo Foundation and the Center for the Development of Effective Education sign a public-private partnership agreement. Photo: Sk.ru.
World Expos: international corporation – a driver for global sustainable development
World expos have always been used to demonstrate some of humanity’s more recent technological and cultural achievements. However, today’s world is undergoing unpredictable levels of change and transformation with the result that new economic, environmental, and ethical challenges are creating demand for new solutions. Unfortunately, the world lacks a strong mechanism for effective coordination. Still, expos could become a tool for developing cooperation in a wide variety of fields, allowing us to bring about a more sustainable world. Apart from that, another important role of mega-events is as a testing ground to create innovative, sustainable solutions for the city of the future. How do expos help develop the cities and countries that adopt them? What is the role of the expo as a tool for international development and cooperation?
Arkady Dvorkovich stated that “an expo allows us to see all the world’s diversity in one place. It is a chance to summarize what has been achieved in five years. Aside from that, the expo is a heritage, infrastructure, and a new look at entire cities and an image of the countries hosting it."
Seamless innovations: from garage to the assembly line
The world is changing rapidly. The dynamic and quality of economic growth rely more and more on technological shifts based on innovation. The success of world-famous companies that were once startups inspires thousands of entrepreneurs to open their own innovative companies. However, only a few survive growth crises and firmly entrench themselves in the market.
Supporting innovation at all development stages of a business is an important part of the new strategy of the development institutes united under VEB.RF. During the session, the heads of the relevant development institutes, as well as Skolkovo Foundation residents – Rustam Milanov from Visitech, CEO of DRClinics Denis Shvetsov, Andrey Yudnikov of Ivideon – discussed the implementation of real projects: a seamless support and growth system for companies “from garage to leader of the digital future.”
Kirill Kaem, senior vice president of innovations at the Skolkovo Foundation: “Our mission is to advance scientific and technological entrepreneurship. We are leading companies to pilot projects and are meeting demand from corporate partners. We are leading startups “by hand” through the “valley of death” – the period when it is too early to attract venture investment – and it is necessary to support the company, make it attractive for investment from business angels or the state. This is the point where there exists the most serious funding deficit, and that is an important issue to rectify in the coming years.”
Vladimir Sakovich, the CEO of Skolkovo Ventures: “The entire state innovation system needs to become an open ecosystem – an environment of trust between the state and private investors. The state should take on those risks that private investors are not ready to. VEB.RF is an effective platform for creating an environment of trust, and the correct positioning between business, the state, and the world as a whole.”
Rustam Milanov, the CEO of Visitech: “Starting in 2015, when we won the Far East stage of Startup Tour, we understood that access to innovation infrastructure is only possible where an innovative life and infrastructure exists and is developing. That place is Skolkovo. The innovation center has a pool of working system tools that allow companies to grow and develop. For startups, that is not just direct interaction with clients but also through corporate accelerators. In addition, support from development institutes working at the system level with corporations helps implement new technologies.”
Open Source in Russia: to be or not to be?
Large-scale digital transformation projects are being implemented in Russia that aim to increase the economy's competitiveness, the effectiveness of interaction between the state and the citizens. But, at the same time, free code is hardly used. According to data from research by Red Hat, the share of Open Source developments amount to less than 1%, while in the US, it’s 23%, and in China, it’s 10%. So, could creating a Russian platform and its integration into the world network be a breakthrough point in the IT-sphere and achieve economic leadership?
Arkady Dvorkovich, chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation: “The topic of Russia’s participation in Open Source is extremely important strategically. The development of Open Source isn’t just a technological priority but is also an economic one. Therefore, together with the Russian subsidiary company Accenture, we have researched the Russian Open Source market and gained some particular results that reveal both the development of Open Source in Russia and the lag in its use and development. As of 2021, 80% of companies are already deciding to increase their use of Open Source. However, Russia is behind in this regard. Many note a lack of competence and difficulty in adapting under concrete corporate processes as a barrier. An open discussion on barriers and opportunities, particularly with the participation and support of the Ministry of Communications and Mass Communications, should help outline the main areas to develop Open Source. As one of the specialized development institutes, we are ready to participate and support in every possible way.”
The Future Intellectual Property Ecosystem
In the innovation and knowledge economy, the importance of companies’ intangible assets is increasing. Intellectual property is becoming a driving force for attracting investment. Without patent analytics, it is impossible to form an effective marketing policy. The experts at the SPIEF focused their attention on the development of the intellectual property ecosystem, including mechanisms to commercialize intellectual property for implementing solutions in a real sector of the economy.
Igor Drozdov, the chairman of the board of the Skolkovo Foundation: “Previously, a person invented something through improvisation, but now they use modern technology and equipment to invent something. As it turns out, the individual's contribution – his knowledge, to be specific – is decreasing further and further. Much of what is created now is not the result of the human brain. Where is the line between creative input and where there is none? A product that creates AI should be available to the public, and you can motivate developers to create these algorithms and neural networks in other ways. We still also have to find a balance to encourage investment and the creation of new technologies, and to derive an advantage for customers to use these technologies.”
Uralchem, an innovation partner to the Skolkovo Foundation
Uralchem Innovation gained the status of research center partner to the Skolkovo Foundation. Kirill Kaem, the senior vice president of innovation at the Skolkovo Foundation, handed the CEO of Uralchem Innovations, Azat Gafarov, the notification assigning the new status to the company.
The partner center will actively develop a range of new products in the food and agrobiotechnologies sector, as well as creating a pool of companies that are potential Skolkovo residents.
Skolkovo Innovations at SPIEF
Two Skolkovo Foundation residents – K-Skai and Intellogic – signed a technological partnership agreement. K-Skai developed the Webiomed platform, a predictive analytics tool that uses machine learning. Intellogic developed Botkin.AI, a platform that can process and analyze medical images using artificial intelligence.
The agreement states that Webiomed and Botkin.AI will be integrated. At the same time, the two companies plan to implement joint projects in digital medicine, implement AI technologies, and advanced methods of digital modeling of patients’ health.
Sergey Sorokin, CEO of Intellogic: “The collaboration with Webiomed platform will allow us to provide a comprehensive analysis of multimodal data, greatly increasing the accuracy of the analysis of medical information using AI technologies.”
Alexander Gusev, the director of development at K-Skai: “The integration with the Botkin.AI platform will greatly broaden the Webiomed platform’s range predictive capabilities. This will help analyze the conclusions of X-ray studies, increasing the accuracy of prognoses, allowing for the detection of a dangerous disease and begin treatment in time, which in some cases can save a patient’s life.”