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

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid