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20 Sep, 2013 13:54

‘Silicon Valley in a box’ comes to Russia’s Dagestan

Better known as an epicenter of violence in southern Russia, come September the Republic of Dagestan will be exposed to Silicon Valley global incubator Plug & Play, which plans to select and aid 10 local start-up projects.

Business incubator Plug & Play, has successfully raised over $750 million in the past 15 years for start-up companies, including PayPal and Droxbox, and kicks off at Technical University of Dagestan Friday. 

The main aim of Plug & Play is to help young entrepreneurs transform their ideas into working prototypes and businesses.

Bold business ideas will be rewarded with free participation in a three-month education program in the US Silicon Valley work space at Dagestan Technical University, a personal mentor, access to the global Plug & Play network,  as well as support in finding potential investors.

While most professionals will stay in Dagestan or Moscow, there will be an opportunity for innovators to take their ideas all the way to Silicon Valley.

“If there are 1 or 2 team members that have a good idea, we would like them to come to California and develop their ideas, so they can experience what life is like for entrepreneurs in California,” founder and CEO Saeed Amidi told RT at the opening ceremony.

“As an entrepreneur, life is very challenging but very rewarding, we hope to bring some of that culture here,” Amidi said, enthusiastic about the new partnership with Dagestan.

Finalists will be selected by the Plug & Play International Advisory Council.

The largest US incubator, Plug & Play includes more than 300 technology start-up companies and investors, and is partnered with 180 universities and corporations. ‘Silicon Valley in a box’ Plug & Play is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, and has international sites in Spain, Singapore, China, Austria, Italy, France, and Russia.

The Plug & Play Moscow Tech Center opened in July 2012 and has the capacity to house 50 high-tech start-ups at the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo. Plug & Play also has a presence with leading American universities MIT, Harvard, Stanford, Cornell, and Dartmouth.

Dagestan native Ziyavudrin Magomedov, a business tycoon and co-owner of Summa Group, an oil and logistics company, is working in cooperation with Plug & Play Dagestan. 

Ziyavudin Magomedov became a billionaire under Dmitry Medvedev’s presidency, when his company won several state contacts to operate Russia’s largest ports, oil terminals, and cargo shipments.

"In preparation for the launch of Plug & Play Dagestan, we are collecting applications from entrepreneurs across the IT sector. We will consider projects both at the prototype stage or an already operating business. The number and quality of applications will allow us to assess the overall quality of the projects and the best way to adapt the educational program for future residents of the business incubator in accordance with their needs," Michael Blank, head of Plug & Play Dagestan said.

Dagestan has some oil deposits and major industries such as textile manufacturing and food processing, but the rapidly growing retail-technology industry hasn’t been taped yet.