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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid