Skolkovo to get Russia's biggest development fund

RIA Novosti / Ruslan Krivobok
Skoltech - Russia´s science and technology institute at the Skolkovo innovation hub – is going to establish the biggest development fund in the country. Around $570mln is planned to be in place this year.

Part of the money will come from development programmes of state companies. They will transfer 1% of the budget to the Skolkovo Scientific Fund, Pesidential Advisor Arkady Dvorkovich said at a briefing on Tuesday.

47 Russian companies have already worked out their innovation ideas, including Russia’s gas monopoly Gazprom, Russia’s railway operator RZD, RusHydro and Aeroflot, Vedomosti report.

The fund expects to provide about 15% of its budget in grants, which means around $69mln should be available this year. The amount of money transferred by the companies might come to around $1 billion over three years, based on the total annual money spent on state company innovation programs will come to at least $34.5 billion, Dvorkovich added.

When fully developed the Skoltech fund will finance the institute's entire research program. The donating companies in turn will have access to scientists and laboratories working in partnership with Skolkovo. The focus on research and innovation development will enable Russia to create technology rather than import it, Stanislav Naumov, Skolkovo Vice President said.

The practice of such endowment funds, accumulating funds from external donors and then spending the money on some specific goals, hasn’t been popular in Russia. The total volume now stands at around $593mln, calculated Ludmila Panteleeva from Gazprombank asset management. The largest to date belongs to the Moscow State Institute for International Affairs (University), with $31mln in its pocket.

So, it’ll take Russia some time to catch up with it’s the rest of the world. Currently the Harvard endowment fund is the world’s biggest. Last year its budget stood at $32bln with the University getting $1.2bln in revenue. The second largest fund is at Yale University and has $19.4bln with revenues from its operations at $992mln.

Skoltech was set up in 2011 as a joint venture of Russia’s Skolkovo and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to promote research in Russia.