News / Europe

Medvedev Seeks to Remake Russia with Silicon Valley in Mind

Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev
Russia's President Dmitri Medvedev
Anya Ardayeva

Peter the Great, Joseph Stalin and now Russian President Dmitri Medvedev all set ambitious goals of modernizing Russia. Last September, Mr. Medvedev published an essay entitled "Go, Russia!" that spelled out a new strategy to use technology and innovation to boost economic efficiency. Part of the plan is to create an innovation center called Skolkovo, the Kremlin's answer to Silicon Valley. But, many in Russia are skeptical about the project's success.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev began a visit to the United States earlier this summer not at the White House, but in California's Silicon Valley, where he met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger and established contacts with potential business partners at the world's leading technology companies. The main reason - Russia's ambitious plans for its own Silicon Valley, or Skolkovo.

"This center will serve as an engine for forming an innovation system in our country," President Medvedev said. "It has to be represented as fully competitive from the very beginning, and its competitiveness has to be global. This will make a major difference from what we've done before. Now we have to start the work."

This is Skolkovo now - 370 hectares of empty land, 20 kilometers from Moscow. Over the next three years, the government plans to spend more than $5 billion to build a science and innovations hub here, focusing on energy, information technology, communication, biomedical research and nuclear technology.

The project has already attracted interest from Siemens, Microsoft, Google, Nokia and Intel. Cisco Systems will become the first tenant, having promised to invest $1 billion during Mr. Medvedev's visit to California. Oil and aluminum billionaire Viktor Vekselberg has been appointed Skolkovo's general manager. He says he hopes Russian companies also will come on board.

"The status of participants will be active for 10 years," he said. "There will be breaks on value-added tax - in some cases zero taxation - no tax on land or property, tax breaks on pension payments. All that creates very attractive conditions not only for startup companies but for existing scientific research centers that could decide to move and organize their activity at Skolkovo."

In the past 10 years, much of Russia's revenue has come from oil and gas sales. Nikolai Petrov from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Moscow says the Kremlin hopes Skolkovo will help to change that.

"The general idea is connected with the fact that the model of Russia's economic development based on natural resources is almost over and it's vitally needed for the country to look for a different model," he said.

Supporters also hope that Skolkovo helps to lure back hundreds of thousands of talented Russians - technology specialists, scientists and entrepreneurs - who have left Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. But Petrov says one single project will not solve the problem.

"Unfortunately, you know, it's like in agriculture - you can try to grow a plant, but you need to have the whole environment friendly, otherwise this pretty weak plant will not survive," said Petrov. "So it's possible to attract those Russians who left from the country, but if it's not for a short while, not for just a visit, it's needed to offer them conditions similar to those where they live now.

A recent poll in Russia says most Russians think their country's modernization plans should focus more on getting rid of corruption and bureaucracy than building technology. But plans are to start construction at Skolkovo sometime in 2011, and the Kremlin hopes in three years Russia's new technology hub will be in business.  

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid