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16 Mar, 2009 07:38

World class scientific centre needs business acumen for new products

Scientists at Dubna, Russia's Silicon Valley, have developed a unique technology to treat the world's biggest killer – heart disease. But the government's only starting to help bring such products to the market.

Anatoly Chubais has started construction of Russia's first “nano cluster” – a customs-free zone for firms fighting cardiovascular illness. An “accelerator” cleans blood by separating damaged and healthy nano-molecules.

The United Nuclear Research Institute at Dubna been churning out first-rate tools like the world's most powerful accelerator since it was the Soviet nuclear physics hub. The trouble is, it doesn't really get capitalism, according to Professor Aleksey Sisakyan, Director of the United Nuclear Research Institute.

“Our weakest link's when an experimental model has to turn into an end product. Business and government are just starting to help.”

Chubais was put in charge of Russian nanotech in September because he's known for getting things done. He's funded this plant which adapts accelerators to simple boxes that can be used by patients themselves.

This claims to be the world's most advanced mobile blood cleaner, used by the emergency services and the army. Larger damaged blood plasma comes out, while clean blood is filtered through.

Dubna wants to become Russia's Silicon Valley. But Russia hasn't brought to market a single significant drug in 15 years. Chubais claims that's about to change.

“The products they produce here aren't produced anywhere in the world, including Japan and the United States. We're discussing the exports, and I'm absolutely sure that Russian innovation is something which will be in some period of time accepted by the West in the same positive mood as the Russian writer or Russian composer.”

He's got some way to go. Hi-tech makes 38% of China's export. In Russia it's 6%.