Skolkovo should become “ideology” of Russian society - Medvedev

Russia's Silicon Valley, Skolkovo, should help to promote innovative developments in the rest of the country rather than remain an “innovation paradise” on a separate territory, President Dmitry Medvedev has said.

The Russian leader was speaking at a joint session of the Commission for Modernization and the Skolkovo Fund’s board of trustees on Monday. The participants of the gathering met to discuss work on Russia's most ambitious and costly project – the construction of Skolkovo technology hub outside Moscow.

Opening the session, Medvedev noted that Russia is sometimes accused of trying to create an “innovation paradise” in Skolkovo while nothing will change in the rest of the country. He assured that it is not going to be the case as the center should set a “proper” example.

According to Medvedev also, the tech-hub will also help to draw foreign investment to Russian research centers and industries that will be created on the basis of Skolkovo developments. “And that would be for the entire country,” he added. The president observed that about a half the projects that have already been approved for Skolkovo are regional, but not Moscow's.

Back in March this year, at a previous meeting of the commission for modernizing the Russian economy, Medvedev called for the improvement of the investment climate, which still remains “very bad”. The leader suggested a ten-point plan aimed changing the situation and instructed the government to focus on implementation of the measures. On Monday, the president once again stressed the need to address the issue.

“The Cabinet should now be implementing [the investment improvement initiatives]. This is a major task even compared to the priorities that the government has," he said.

Medvedev also voiced his dissatisfaction over information support to Skolkovo project and stressed that the center should become a recognizable world “shooting brand” and “ideology” for the Russian population. Currently, only 40 per cent of citizens have an idea of what Skolkovo is, which is not enough, given the scale of the project.

“Skolkovo is not some get-together, but a public project that should eventually unite all our efforts on modernizing the economy,” he said. Meedvedev underlined that all information considering what has been done in Skolkovo, what is planned, and how that is financed should be open to public.

Popularizing the Russian Silicon Valley abroad is “crucially important” as eventually it should become one of most “recognizable and clear Russian brands”. And achievements in the development of Skolkovo would be best “propaganda” for the hub, Medvdedev added.

“We do not need to make new doors and windows to Europe. Generally, those doors are wide open. We should accept it rather than say that we are not being let in anywhere,” he stated.

According to Medvedev, the task is to learn to work with partners in “a unified technological and innovative space,” and Skolkovo should play a key role in that.

Speaking at the meeting, the president also suggested establishing a special court for intellectual property rights at Skolkovo. He instructed his administration together with experts to consider a possibility for creating such a body.

Summing up the session, Medvedev said that he would like Skolkovo to become “an ideology running through the life of our society which would also be clear to both mature and young people.”