Skolkovo to receive more than $600 mn in investment – top official

Innovation projects in Russia’s Silicon Valley are set to receive millions in investment. Given that “the oil and gas well is dry and empty,” Skolkovo initiatives look crucial, said Sergey Ivanov, Russian president’s administration head.

A total of 57 venture funds – 21 from abroad -  are going to invest about $666.7 million into Skolkovo projects, Ivanov said at a meeting with the funds key partners.

The Skolkovo project is serious and for the long haul, Ivanov said.

The recent Skolkovo – related scandal, involving a senior vice president of the Skolkovo innovation fund Aleksey Beltyukov and an MP Ilya Ponomaryov, was “an absolutely isolated case,” Ivanov stressed.

According to investigators, Beltyukov broke the law when he paid Ponomaryov $750,000 for 10 lectures and a research paper. Some of the paid lectures were never delivered and the price was inflated, which makes it possible to be classified as a graft, according to law enforcers.

However, “in the name of the Kremlin and Russia’s Government I want to reassure you that Skolkovo is for the long haul, that’s our strategic course and there can’t be any changes,” Ivanov told the fund’s partners.

Keeping in mind the fact that oil reserves are limited, moving away from oil dependence by developing innovation looks crucial.

“There will be no more extra reserves …And now we have no other option but to energetically modernize and diversify our economy,” Ivanov said.

“We are not motivated when there’s a golden rain [oil revenues] pouring on you year from year, which happens to Russia… And we need to pursue really hard in industries which we still have good education, engineering, IT, high–tech in general, some military industries like space, aviation, nuclear energy,” Ivanov said.

Today there are about a thousand of resident high – tech companies in Skolkovo. 30 of them are the world’s biggest brands that are now undertaking research and product development.

The Skolkovo project was sealed by Dmitry Medvedev during his presidency in September 2010. While the innovation center remains under construction in Moscow region to the west of the capital, the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo has been operational since 2006.