Technoparks will help. But not everybody

Russians prefer a small but stable income to risking by participating in a startup. The number of those who wants to do it is less than one in a hundred, admit participants in the conference “SK Regions. New map of innovative structure” that took place on January 28 in Skolkovo Technopark. 

At the same time, the number of potential risk-takers in the provinces is still higher than in the capital. The reason is simple: average wages are small; therefore, a provincial entrepreneur will hardly lose anything by taking the risk and starting a business. By the way, there are quite a few technoparks that offer opportunities for developing startups in Russia. According to the Russian Industrial Parks website, there are already 134 technoparks operating in 66 regions and 136 more are at different stages of their development.

This is why so many successful startups are based outside Moscow, Skolkovo Foundation Chairman Arkady Dvorkovich confirmed at the conference.  

“Dozens of companies have already sprung up at technoparks of our regional operators. These companies have a potential for entering not only major Russian but also international platforms. There were examples a couple of years ago,” he said.

The second lesson, he believes, is that regional startups must understand: they should go beyond using the infrastructure available nearby.

“Startups often plateau when all opportunities of local technoparks are exhausted. Skolkovo Foundation can help. Startups should not lock themselves up in one specific region.”

Oleg Fomichev, director for strategic planning and development at Complexprom, former Deputy Minister of the Economic Development, noted during the plenary meeting that the cores of innovative activity are distributed more or less evenly.

“It’s a different matter that their legal status has remained unclear for a long time. The situation got somewhat better now, and there is a general possibility to include regional technoparks in the certain legal framework,” Fomichev said.

But it is not only about technoparks and opportunities they can provide to startups. Denis Kovalevich, general director and co-shareholder of Technospark, said that the PMI index in Russia has been falling for the past 10 years.

“Therefore, not all growth points like technoparks can hope that they will have a flow of people who will want to develop their innovative business,” Kovalevich said.

Alexander Ruchyov, chairman of the board of the Phystechpark technopark, was also critical.

“A huge number of ideas is conceived in Russia; we are really unique as bearers of knowledge. We need to learn to monetize our creative skills, including with the help of the government. However, it is usually obvious which companies can become unicorns and which are outsiders. No technoparks or state support can help the latter,” he concluded.

By Taras Fomchenkov

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