Features, INVESTMENTS

Alexander Ruchyov and his alternative to Skolkovo Technopark

Zeus.exchange cryptoexchange established by Russian businessmen allowed Venezuela issue its own cryptocurrency, El Petro. One of the exchange investors is Alexander Ruchyov, former owner of Morton, a major developer group, who is now focusing on cryptoinvestments and intends to launch a Russian Silicon Valley in Moscow Region.

Maxim Blinov | RIAN

Russian Silicon Valley

In autumn 2016, Ruchyov sold Morton. According to some information available, the deals reached $200 mio. After that, he established Osnova developer but only invested in the company 30% of his funds, while other 70% were invested in cryptoassets. Last autumn, Alexander Ruchyov told Invest Foresight that he had plans to invest, together with Alexei Voronin, $10 mio in Voronin-owned ICO Lab. ICO Lab was a basis for a subsequent emergence of Smart Valley (registered in Switzerland), a decentralized blockchain platform intended for investing in startups. Voronin calls Smart Valley a decentralized Silicon Valley where all projects automatically go through scoring, expert evaluation and ultimately find interested investors. By now, Smart Valley has opened its offices in Hon Kong (with about twenty requests on startups scoring and ICO investors search already received), New York and Dubai.

Smart Valley has already arranged funding for 12 projects. Alexander Ruchyov, for instance, used the platform to acquire a stake in Zeus.exchange cryptocurrency exchange.

Zeus and Venezuela’s El Petro

Zeus.exchange is one of the largest and most successful High Tech projects where Ruchyon has invested. The platform was founded last year by Sergey Litvin, Senior Vice-President at EVRAZ Holding, and businessmen Denis Druzhkov and Andrey Rinas. Among the company’s already implemented projects, assistance to Venezuela in issuing its national El Petro cryptocurrency can be named. Venezuela needs its oil-backed El Petro to attract international investments since financial inflows stalled because of the galloping hyperinflation and US sanctions. The cryptocurrency was issued at NEM blockchain platform, but the overall preliminary work to develop the nods of the network, the cryptoexchange and the codes was accomplished by Zeus.exchange software specialists.

All the network’s nods are supervised by NEM community. It is noteworthy, the El Petro’s logo very much resembles the symbol of the Russian ruble. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro wrote in his Twitter account that he had signed an agreement with NEM and Zeus on the circulation of El Petro.

Ruchyov does not disclose the details of the way Zeus managed to initiate discussion on El Petro with Venezuela’s authorities. He does not reveal the size of his share in Zeus, claiming it is a confidential matter.

Zeus.exchange’s major goal is certainly launching its own marketplace which may hopefully start operating in 2020.

Phystechpark to grow alongside Smart Valley

Phystechpark was established by Russia’s Ministry of Telecom and Mass Communications and the government of Moscow, with its facilities constructed in 2015 in Dolgoprudny, a Moscow satellite city, by Morton which those days was still owned by Ruchyov. And until now the technopark is managed by Phystech-21 management company owned by Ruchyov and his partners. The technopark has premises of 30,000 square meters and now houses offices of Acronis, Exoskeleton, etc.

Phystechpark’s residents are all in all about a thousand startups, and all of them are in need of investments. So Smart Valley is disposed to assist them with funding, by helping to issue tokens, in particular. But that can only happen after respective laws on digital currencies are enacted in Russia. On February 27 Smart Valley signed a partnership agreement with NexChange, the largest Fin Tech player in Hong Kong. NexChange is a platform focused at investments in blockchain and AI projects. According to Juwan Lee NexChange’s CEO, within the next five years, through NexChange’s efforts, investments to Russian blockchain and Moscow-based Phystechpark resident FinTech projects may reach $50 mio to $100 mio.

Last spring, Alexander Ruchyov’s Osnova announced its plans to build Phystechpark second stage facilities of some 130K square meters, adjacent to the current Phystechpark building. The planning design has already been approved. Construction works are to start either this or next year, once the prospect tenants’ pool is gathered. As Ruchyov says, the second stage investments should amount to somewhat $100 mio. But the businessman is not going to stop there. His plans for the next ten years include developing a version of Silicon Valley in Russia to support startups, with aggregate premises of 0.5 mio square meters. Those should include offices and R&D centers for startups.

As an online platform, Smart Valley will be able to select and bring up startups which at the first stage should reside at Phystechpark. In March 2018 Smart Valley is launching its own ICO, while the company has already raised $3.2 mio at the presale.

By Natalia Kuznetsova

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