Dmitry Medvedev stated that Russia’s research and development institutes and educational establishments should make maximum use of the possibilities the innovation centre offers, and also called for more active efforts to encourage foreign partners to take part in Skolkovo’s projects.
The President instructed the Presidential Executive Office to examine together with the expert and judicial communities the possibility of establishing a special intellectual property court at Skolkovo.
Before the meeting began, Mr Medvedev visited an exhibition of Skolkovo’s projects at the new Digital October IT centre. The President examined the projects of the finalists in the competition for the best construction concept for Skolkovo, and the first research and development initiatives to begin within its framework.
* * *
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Colleagues, we are holding an interesting joint meeting today, a meeting of the Commission for Modernisation [and Technological Development of Russia’s Economy], and the Skolkovo Fund Board of Trustees. We have an interesting venue too.
”The Skolkovo project will give us the chance to test the latest scientific, research and education methods and newest technology.“
The Skolkovo project, as we know, is one of the Commission’s biggest priority undertakings. It is this project that will give us the chance to test the latest scientific, research and education methods and newest technology, and help it take root in our country. But let me emphasise once again for our colleagues and our guests that this is not about building some kind of innovation paradise separate to the rest of the country. Critics sometimes reproach us with this, say that we will achieve our goals at Skolkovo, but the rest of the country will remain unchanged. Of course this is not what Skolkovo is about. The idea is simply to set the right example, and to help attract to Russia serious strategic investment for our big research centres and for the industry that will help to develop and use the new products and technology to come out of Skolkovo. This is a task for our whole country to get involved in. Incidentally, more than half of the projects approved so far are not from Moscow but from the regions, and this is good to see. I looked over some of the projects just before, and they all have a regional dimension.
Over this last year we have settled on the future innovation city’s urban development concept, though the fine-tuning is still underway. We have put in place the legal framework guaranteeing all project participants what for our country are unprecedented legal incentives. A system of what I hope is effective expert evaluation has been organised. All of this lays the foundations for the innovation centre’s work, and the task now is to develop these foundations, and as rapidly as possible. The laws in place enable project teams to make immediate use of their project participant status without having to wait for construction to be completed. Some people have already made use of this possibility and told me just before about the breaks and incentives they have received. I hope their number will increase. We need to start getting concrete results even before we cut the ribbon.
There are several matters I’d like to say a few words about now. First, the fund has signed various agreements and memorandums with big foreign corporations, research and development centres, and educational institutions. These are only memorandums of intent, however, and we have yet to see legally binding documents on cooperation and participation by our partners in specific projects. We need to activate this work, including as part of our efforts to improve our country’s investment climate.
At the Commission’s last meeting at the end of March, I outlined a series of initiatives to improve the investment climate. The Government needs to implement them now. This is a priority task, even among all the other priorities the Government has, because achieving the other priority goals won’t be possible if we do not first put our investment climate in order. I discussed the most immediate measures for implementing these initiatives a few days ago with the Government, and I now await results.
Perhaps one additional idea we could examine is the possibility of establishing a special intellectual property rights court within our arbitration court system, and have it located at Skolkovo. I think this would be a useful idea and would at the same time be a good example. We could add some educational projects here too. I discussed this idea today. I instruct the Presidential Executive Office to work on this idea together with the expert community and the judicial community, of course.
The Economic Development Ministry needs to select the people who will be responsible for coordinating international cooperation within the modernisation and innovation programmes. We have no need here to try cutting ‘windows and doors on to Europe’ or anywhere else in the world. These doors are already wide open, and we need to recognise this and not complain that others do not let us in. All we need to do is learn how to work properly with our partners in a common technological and innovative space. The Skolkovo project will play a crucial part in this.
I take this opportunity to welcome all of our guests from abroad today, who came here for this joint meeting of the Commission and the Board of Trustees, and in particular I welcome Secretary-General of the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] Mr Gurria.
”The fund has signed various agreements and memorandums with big foreign corporations, research and development centres, and educational institutions. These are only memorandums of intent, however, and we have yet to see legally binding documents on cooperation and participation by our partners in specific projects. We need to activate this work.“
Second, we need to move faster to open up Skolkovo’s opportunities for our Russian participants. I stress in this respect that the projects that have already gone through the required expert evaluation should begin receiving the financing they need immediately. The incentives that the law offers the managing companies, and all the more so Skolkovo’s actual residents, should take full effect. Our development institutes, state-owned companies, universities, research centres, and educational institutions must be able to make full use of the new opportunities the Skolkovo initiative provides.
The third issue concerns establishing the Skolkovo technology university. Its research and development activity should be based on interdisciplinary studies, and it will also need strategic foreign partners. Consultations are underway. We have had consultations with MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], and with other leading world universities. Of course, our university’s future will depend very much on its level of independence and also the extent to which it is linked into global education trends.
I want to say a few words too about the innovation centre’s information support. The situation here could be better, frankly speaking. Public surveys show that only around 40 percent of our people have much idea of what Skolkovo is about. That is a very small figure given the project’s scale and importance. As for what the project’s development and future involve, there is even less knowledge among the public, and this is not a good situation, all the more so as, as I said, Skolkovo is not some kind of closed club, but is a public project, and one that will ultimately be the driving force behind our entire modernisation effort. It is therefore essential that our public be fully informed about what we are doing and how these programmes work. There must be completely open and public information about what we are doing now and what is planned for the future.
Of course it is also very important to promote this information abroad too, where there is also insufficient awareness of the project. Though I must say that I discuss this project at practically all of my meetings with other countries’ leaders, and our partners usually show considerable interest and serious regard for our plans.
The goal is to make Skolkovo one of Russia’s most recognisable and best known brands. I will not cite now the examples from abroad that we all know so well. In any case, if we fail to achieve this goal there seems little point in making all this effort in the first place. We must make Skolkovo an effective brand that everyone knows. Of course, information about our achievements is the best promotion of all in this respect.
Today, we will discuss adjustments to the laws on customs duties on imported equipment, payments to extra-budgetary funds, and accounting procedures. We will also set Skolkovo’s territorial boundaries, in accordance with the law, as this also comes under the Commission’s powers.
Let’s begin work. I give the floor to Mr Vekselberg.
* * *
Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, I want to say that overall, the Skolkovo project is developing, a bit faster than we thought in some areas even, and a bit slower than we hoped in others.
”We could examine is the possibility of establishing a special intellectual property rights court within our arbitration court system, and have it located at Skolkovo. I instruct the Presidential Executive Office to work on this idea together with the expert community and the judicial community.“
What I thought particularly important today was that along with the presence here of the Board of Trustee’s members and the colleagues we invited, I saw concrete examples of real work taking place before the main sites have been completed, and this is very good to see. This goes with what I said at the beginning that it is important that the project residents and everyone in general wanting to work there has the chance to get their initiatives underway without having to wait until the overall Skolkovo centre is completed.
One more thing, I agree completely with Mr Alferov [Zhores Alferov, co-chairman of the Skolkovo Fund’s Advisory Academic Board, vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics] that Skolkovo must become more than just a good brand, and I am sure that we can make this the case. Speaking seriously, 40 percent awareness of what Skolkovo is about is not such a bad figure after all, but I hope that Skolkovo will become an ideology that reaches to every part of our society, and that people both young and old can understand. If we achieve this goal, then Skolkovo will really have a tremendous impact, and this is just what I hope for.
Thank you all for your work. I propose that we continue discussing Skolkovo and related matters at the international forum in St Petersburg – the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, at which I hope to see many of those present here today. You are all welcome guests and I invite you most warmly to attend.