President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Vekselberg, please tell me and all the people interested in this about the way things are going in Skolkovo, what has been accomplished in the time you have been involved in the project, and what still remains to be done.
Coordinator of Russian Part of Skolkovo Innovation Centre Project Viktor Vekselberg: Mr President, I would like to give you a brief presentation on how things stand today. To be honest, not a lot of time has passed.
Dmitry Medvedev: I am not expecting anything heroic from you today. Nevertheless, I would like to hear about what is going on.
Viktor Vekselberg: Over this period of time we have completed work on the fund’s constituent documents; we have prepared the articles of association, had it signed off by all founders and submitted to the Ministry of Justice for registration. I hope that we will soon be officially registered, so that the fund we have created can function as a legally registered institution.
By the end of this month we will form the fund’s key management bodies. We will submit to you our proposal for the board of trustees’ members and also submit for your approval the fund’s council and scientific advisory board membership lists. This organisation will have two management bodies: a council that will engage in planning day-to-day operations, making key decisions pertaining to budgeting and organisational issues, and creating affiliated companies, and the scientific advisory board that will meet less frequently and consider strategic priorities and various science-related issues; this advisory council will basically embody the potential related to scientific idea.
Dmitry Medvedev: You and I discussed this issue when I appointed you a coordinator for this work, and before that, we discussed it with colleagues from the Presidential Executive Office and the Government Cabinet. I understand that the board of trustees and the scientific advisory board are almost formed. And these two bodies feature some prominent people, including world-famous persons, who have agreed to participate.
Viktor Vekselberg: You know, we have already come up with co-chair candidates for both the scientific advisory board and the council. Incidentally, I had a meeting with Mr Barrett [former CEO of Intel Corporation Craig Barrett, co-chair of the supervisory board to manage the project’s companies] just a few days ago, and we had a detailed discussion on how we see the council’s work, particularly in the context of relations with our future partners, Western partners.
Dmitry Medvedev: Do our Western colleagues want to engage in this? Did you sense some interest?
Viktor Vekselberg: Strangely enough, there is interest.
Dmitry Medvedev: Why should this be strange?
Viktor Vekselberg: It is strange because ultimately, they see us in a specific light. Each of these people, particularly Mr Barrett, has a great deal of global experience, working in various parts of the world, including Asia and Europe. But nevertheless, it seems that Russia is a special challenge for them; they are interested in seeing whether or not such a large-scale, serious project will work. And another important element is the fact that the project has attracted a lot of attention from the government, including from you personally. This essentially guarantees that this project is very serious and that the government is taking it seriously.
Dmitry Medvedev: I think their experience tells them that nothing happens in Russia without the attention of the first person in the country. This is a classic situation in our nation. I cannot say that it makes me happy, but unfortunately, this is still true in many ways. And if we are working on it, then clearly, this project will receive the utmost attention. We will be discussing this issue with you. Are there any problems that require a quick, strategic response? Or is everything more or less fine?
Viktor Vekselberg: For the moment, I think we are up to schedule. As I already said, by the end of this month we will form the fund’s management bodies and identify the key priorities, which involve the desire and the need to create a research centre on this territory within the framework of the fund, engaging in the process leading universities both in Russia and the West. I want to emphasise that we have already conducted some fairly serious study on this matter together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and MIT delegation is currently in Russia. We are organising a series of detailed, in-depth meetings, including at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, which will be one of the possible candidates for forming the alliance. And I think that by the time the St Petersburg Economic Forum is held, we be ready to sign the first framework agreement.
Dmitry Medvdev: Very well. I have a small question. How many R&D centres do you think we should have? Do you have any idea?
Viktor Vekselberg: We feel that there absolutely needs to be no less than two in each area – in other words, a total of around ten.
Dmitry Medvedev: What about the legislation? Are we working on a draft?
Viktor Vekselberg: Yes. The key, basic provisions of the law are ready. We are already working on the text and hopefully we will be ready to present it in June.
Dmitry Medvedev: Who is working on the wording?
Viktor Vekselberg: The State Legal Directorate of the Presidential Executive Office.
Dmitry Medvedev: So, the Presidential Executive Office is participating. Good.
Viktor Vekselberg: I would like to make a request with regard to one of the most important elements of the law. I think that if everything goes according to plan and the law is passed by the end of the year, it would be inadvisable for us to wait for the actual commissioning of the construction projects that will, at best, be ready in three or four years.
Dmitry Medvedev: And?
Viktor Vekselberg: And so, we would like for those provisions of the law that will be passed to be extraterritorial in nature. This way, the fund will be able to support projects that we will be launching now, so that the existing provisions of the law apply to them too.
Dmitry Medvedev: Theoretically, I would like for us to start our work and for our centre to begin working as soon as possible. I understand that there are problems with the construction itself – it never happens very quickly. And overall, your suggestion is reasonable. But we must be sure that we do not create a situation where a large number of entirely unrelated facilities operate under our centre’s name. Because even inside [within the centre] – as you recall, we spoke about this at the meeting – there are some problems with separating the primary, core activities from any other activities, and it is especially difficult to deal with this on the outside. Thus, if you come up with or suggest a model for how this can be done, I will be willing to support it – naturally, coordinating it with our colleagues in the Cabinet.
Viktor Vekselberg: Certainly, we will prepare this suggestion in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Development, our parent department.
Dmitry Medvedev: Very well, then it’s agreed. Let’s work in that direction.