Dmitry Medvedev held an expanded meeting of the Skolkovo Foundation’s Board of Trustees at Bauman Moscow State Technical University.
The President visited the university’s science laboratories and attended the opening of the Photonic and Infrared Technology Research and Education Centre.
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PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV:Colleagues,
I want to sincerely welcome you all here to the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. This is a well-known place, our first technical university. It was founded in 1830 and is one of Russia’s leading universities today. I spoke about a number of ambitious goals yesterday that it would be good for us to work towards. One of them was to have five Russian universities earn themselves a place in the ratings of the world's top 100 universities. I think that MSTU could certainly develop in this direction and stake a claim to a place on the list.
MSTU is also one of the Skolkovo Foundation’s anchor partners. Scientific interests connect it to Skolkovo, and I hope that future productive cooperation will strengthen these ties. In just a short space of time MSTU has registered 14 small innovation businesses, and four businesses have become Skolkovo residents. The university is establishing world-class scientific and education centres.
I was at the symbolic opening just before of one of these centres, which is devoted to photonic and infrared technology. We got to see what is taking place here, and what we saw is impressive, all the more so as this work was accomplished in quite quick time and is of cutting-edge level. Students and teachers are working at this centre, conducting research in various areas, applied science, and commercial. I hope that this will produce results.
Let me say a couple of words about our meeting now. I remind you that we met in this same format last year, when I gave instructions concerning the Skolkovo project’s future development. Overall, as I have seen from the information at my disposal and discussed with my Government and Presidential Executive Office colleagues, and with Mr Vekselberg, who is in charge of carrying out the project as director and president of the Foundation, things are progressing quite well on the whole. But, looking at specific areas of activity, we set the objective last time of intensifying cooperation with foreign partners and turning the memorandums on cooperation that had been signed into full-fledged partnership agreements.
Today, we can sum up a few preliminary results. Seventeen major global corporations have decided to open their own research and development centres at Skolkovo, and 427 companies have obtained project participant status. Since the Foundation began its work it has approved 100 grants for a total of 6.3 billion rubles [$210 million]. In other words, the process is underway and, looking at the various steps as a whole, things are moving ahead in normal fashion.
But let me mention a few problems nevertheless. So far, not a single company in which the state has a stake (some of them are also represented here today) has started working with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, even though instructions were given on this matter. I think it is time for these companies to hurry up and join in this work, especially as regards setting the immediate and strategic objectives for research at the international level.
I think that co-financing the Skolkovo Institute’s target capital fund, that is, our endowment fund – and this task has been set – will help state-owned companies to adapt with maximum speed to new conditions and give them access to the latest developments. I hope the necessary report on this will be ready very soon.
The Skolkovo Institute’s establishment is another very concrete result of the work accomplished so far. Certainly, this is a good result and we are pleased with it. I hope that its president, Mr Crowley, will say a few words about this too.
It was important over this last year to put in place the procedures for expert evaluation and granting companies Skolkovo status, all the more so as many applications have come in. How many have been received so far?
REPLY: Around 10,000.
DMITRY MEDVEDEV: Ten thousand applications. This implies a lot of serious work to decide on who meets the requirements and who, for whatever reason, is not up to our criteria yet. This work must be objective, open, transparent, and honest, of course.
Scarcely a day goes by without at least one new company joining the Skolkovo project. But the problem is that we do not have a single ‘innovative lift’ uniting all of our different development institutions. The development institutions are represented here today, sitting on my right. Each of them has their own expert commission. The development institutions are no doubt deservedly proud of these commissions, which are made up of top-class specialists capable of making unbiased and justified decisions. But this is nonetheless a wasteful approach, and it means that companies applying for our grants, loans, or tax breaks, have to go through one and the same procedures two or three times. This is not the right way to do things. This is an example of our beloved bureaucracy, which, unfortunately, is present not just in state administration but also in expert evaluations, when businesses are required to repeat the same procedures several times over. This just creates added problems. I therefore believe we need a unified expert evaluation system that would help us to professionally assess the prospects and commercial attractiveness of proposed research. We need this system today to help us in the selection process in the regional innovation clusters too, which currently are in the hands of Economic Development Ministry.
In conclusion, there have been quality improvements in the innovation centre’s information support. A much bigger number of people in Russia and abroad know about Skolkovo now. This was something we discussed last time too. I hope this will create the atmosphere of confidence and trust that we need, for this is the most important resource when carrying out projects of this kind. We have help here from our world-renowned partners, and I want to thank them sincerely for giving us this extra promotion that is so valuable during the early stages. Of course, it is also important to continue an open policy of working together with residents, investors, and everyone interested in the project. We must continue this work.
That, in brief, is what I wanted to say for now.
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