Saturday, 20 March 2010

Skolkovo to host Russia’s Silicon Valley

Russia's answer to Silicon Valley will be built in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo, President Dmitry Medvedev announced on Thursday.

The home of the prestigious Skolkovo School of Management, overcame other regions to become Russia's new high-tech hub.

At a meeting with winners of a student Olympiad - the generation on which hopes of modernisation will rest - the president announced that a modern scientific complex would be built in the suburb.

Skolkovo will benefit from a host of investments from leading universities as well as major corporations, while Medvedvev said the region will attract top scientists and engineers from around the world.

The focus will be on the commercialisation of new technologies and the proximity to Moscow will help connect entrepreneurs with the financial centre. Medvedev also said that "speed had a special value" in the project and therefore Moscow was the logical choice, RIA Novosti reported.

"We shall build this centre in a place where we have quite good reserves to do it quickly," Medvedev said. "We shall therefore build it in Skolkovo."
While there are benefits to building it close to Moscow, others saw this the project as a chance to spread the country's wealth with a massive gap in income between the capital and the regions.

"If I were to make the decision I would not [build] it near Moscow," Natalya Kasperskaya, CEO of Kaspersky Lab, told The Moscow News in a recent interview. "I'd move it to central Russia to develop these regions and use the educational opportunities which still exist [there]."

Other experts said it was less important where the technopark was built, but that a network of support for entrepreneurs was developed and that it encouraged economic modernisation.
"[Where it's built] is less important than what they put there," Esther Dyson, chairman of EDventure holdings, said in a recent interview. "It should be something that lures people there rather than sticking them there."

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