Originally published by RIA Novosti, 14 November 2016

Officials and businesspeople from Russia and the United States discussed opportunities for innovation-driven growth in Russia and prospects for the economy at the annual meeting of the US-Russia Business Council (USRBC) in San Francisco on November 10 – 12.

One of the sessions looked at the Russian economy from the perspective of innovation initiatives that could encourage diversification of the economy and drive growth, such as infrastructure projects, ideas for new reforms and progress in the financial sector.

Innovation clusters

As part of the session, Deputy Russian Economic Development Minister Oleg Fomichev presented a report on innovation initiatives in Russia, which specifically touched on the creation of technology clusters.

“The aim of the [tech cluster] project is to support economic growth by creating world-class business support mechanisms and through effective integration into global supply chains,” reads Fomichev’s presentation, which is available on the USRBC website.

In 2012 – 2015, clusters helped create more than 95,000 jobs across Russia and also increased output of industrial products by some $13 billion.

The short list of “national champions”, according to the presentation, includes the pharmaceutics, biotechnology and biomedicine cluster in the Kaluga region, the Yenisei Krasnoyarsk technopolis, the Mechanical Engineering Valley in the Lipetsk region and others.

Skolkovo and Innopolis

Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of the board of director of Renova Group and president of the Skolkovo Foundation, also made a presentation. He noted that Skolkovo currently houses 1,568 start-ups with $2 billion in revenue, with investment coming from 46 venture capital funds and more than 200 business angels.

“2016 was a year for developing relations with Asia and continuing activity in Europe and America. A representative office of the foundation was opened in China,” Vekselberg’s presentation says.

Roman Shaikhutdinov, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for IT and Communications in the Republic of Tatarstan, presented the Innopolis hi-tech city to American investors.

He said that the city combines an intellectual center comprising a university and special economic zone with everything needed for life. As of June 9, Innopolis was home to 1,884 people; it has the capacity to house 5,000 residents. 622 students are studying at the city’s university, which specializes in IT, with applications being received from 68 countries.

Growth prospects

At the meeting, strategic communications agency PBN Hill+Knowlton Strategies presented research based on a survey of companies from different sectors of the economy. It found that 37% of respondents consider existing conditions for innovation in Russia to be positive or “somewhat positive” (32%). 34% view the climate for innovation as negative or somewhat negative, while 29% said neither positive or negative.

In terms of the level of state support for innovation, 43% said the level was medium, while 10% view it as high. At the same time, almost half (45%) of respondents think the level is low. Developing infrastructure (special economic zones, technology parks), improving protection of intellectual property rights and adopting industry specific target programs were noted as the top three innovation measures taken by the Russian government.

Respondents noted that a reduction in the state’s role in the economy, improvements in legislation and increased competition could encourage businesses to invest in innovation in Russia, noted Myron Wasylyk, CEO, PBN Hill+Knowlton Strategies, whose presentation is published on the event page.

Read the original article in Russian here.