The current crisis is a major contributing factor to breaking the ice between Russian corporations and startups, according to Yevgeny Kuznetsov, Ambassador of SingularityU for Russia and head of Orbita Capital Partners, a venture fund that involves Rosatom state corporation.
Until recently, large companies and the startup community in Russia existed in parallel realities or worlds, Yevgeny Kuznetsov said during the Kiev, Moscow, Almaty: Experience of innovative practices online meeting organized by SingularityU.
On the one hand, there were active communities around development institutions such as Skolkovo, RVC, ASI and others, and on the other, the rest of the economy with its beliefs and priorities, the two worlds hardly overlapping.
Although many companies have launched corporate accelerators in the past few years, that did not mean large corporations have actually turned to face this market.
“There are several leaders, mostly digital corporations such as Yandex or Mail.ru Group, but they, too, have only just begun a more structured progress in this direction. Sberbank is showing activity, and a number of large corporations,” Kuznetsov added.
With the crisis unfolding, this situation is unlikely to continue for much longer: innovation in the real sector of the economy is primarily triggered by falling oil prices because the economy will have no other choice once its so-called commodity curse is lifted.
“Thanks to the crisis, the Russian economy is breaking from its great inertia. It will simply not be able to continue as before: it will need to change dramatically, to create new products, and to develop new markets. Everyone understands this now, which means there will be more professional interest in startups,” Yevgeny Kuznetsov predicts.
According to him, the corporate sector can be expected to advance more or less serious initiatives towards startups in the second half of this year.
“This is also a very good window for investors, because startups that have not previously found their markets can at least get partners to move on with,” he said.