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23 Sep, 2010 09:36

Duma signs off on legislation for Skolkovo science benefits

Duma signs off on legislation for Skolkovo science benefits

The Russian State Duma has passed legislation on the structure and aims of the Skolkovo high technology centre and the benefits for scientists and researchers working there.

According to the legislation agreed to Skolkovo project – which has become known as the Russian Silicon Valley – will have five major focuses, including energy efficiency and conservation, nuclear technology, space technology, medical technology, and strategic computing.

Skolkovo valley will include cutting edge technological infrastructure and working conditions. The new legislation also includes a simplified accounting procedure, and measures to stimulate investment into high technology research, according to Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev.

“Those who are granted the status of a member of the research project can count on reimbursement of expenses to pay customs fees on imported goods needed for their research activities. The State guarantees the project participants tax breaks. They will be exempted for 10 years from payment of VAT, income tax and property taxes. These conditions are also applicable for the members of the Skolkovo projects working outside the technology park until 1 January 2014.”

Yedinaya Rossiya member Victor Zvagel'skii believes the Skolkovo project is a major step forward in supporting Russian scientists and researchers in their innovative projects

“It is a move to stop the brain drain from our country and it gives confidence to every scholar and researcher that the results of their labor are demanded in Russia, and are protected in accordance with international standards of protection of intellectual property”

The Skolkovo innovative project was established in 2006 as a non-commercial public-private partnership. The Skolkovo coordination council and it’s major co-founders are companies and major Russian business leaders from across every sphere of corporate activity including banking, energy, commodities, technology, and the retail sector.

Total investment into Skolkovo development and construction is estimated at approximately $500 million, with $245 million borrowed from Sberbank. Ruben Vardanyan Chairman of the Board of Directors in Troika Dialog said he took the personal risk of providing part of his Troika Dialog shares as a security guarantee.

“Due to the fact that the school is a venture project, I signed as an individual guarantor of a borrower. If plans to expand the number of co-founders of the school fail, I am obliged personally to pay off the debt.”

Troika Dialog has been chosen as a management company for the Skolkovo venture financial fund, established by Rosnano. It is expected to attract $2 million from co-investors with Ropsnano investing $1 million. The venture fund will involve students and Skolkovo tutors in business planning and pre-investment preparation for the most interesting projects submitted to the fund said Moscow School of Management Skolkovo Dean, Andrey Volkov.

“The first Skolkovo MBA program involves the development of the students own entrepreneurial project. The best projects will receive venture funding. The main criterion for the selection of projects is its innovative component. We are confident that our collaboration with Rosnano will be an incentive for creating truly breakthrough technologies that will benefit the inventors and Russia’s economy.”

The business school opened its doors for the first 21 full-time EMBA students in September 2009. In four years since the start of the Skolkovo project however, more than 3,000 people have completed short-term, open and corporate Executive Education programs.

By Elena Lokteva

Business RT