Transformation of business and education for import substitution

Last week, Cheboksary Ice Arena hosted a plenary session of the Cheboksary Economic Forum, Focusing on Import Substitution. The participants discussed ways to promote import substitution, the digital transformation of industries and the transformation of business in the new reality, as well as the development of domestic tourism.

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin sent his greeting to the participants of the event.

“The current forum’s theme, Focusing on Import Substitution, was chosen for a reason. A profound transformation is taking place in the national economy, giving an impetus to businesses in various fields, opening up opportunities for them to expand local production and develop new technological solutions, including for young entrepreneurs,” the Prime Minister said.

Head of the Chuvash Republic Oleg Nikolayev said the import substitution trend started in 2014. The regional government is now working closely with major businesses, promoting the Russian Government’s import substitution policy.

“The Chuvash Republic has been working on import substitution since 2014. We are mainly focusing on the key industries in which Chuvashia boasts particular strengths – electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and agriculture. The regional government primarily cooperates with major businesses, and, based on the market trends, promotes the policy outlined by the Government of the Russian Federation. We are taking advantage of the tools that are provided by the Government for the diversification of the defense industry, as well as small and medium-sized businesses,” the head of the republic said.

Chairman of the State Duma Committee on the Financial Market Anatoly Aksakov spoke about the planned support measures for the banking system.

“We see that the financial system is working steadily, and banks continue to serve retail clients and businesses. Cross-border transactions are a major issue. Many banks have been disconnected from SWIFT and face resistance from unfriendly countries. One of the ways to solve this problem is to develop digital financial assets. We are already working with other countries to secure further financial cooperation, including in digital formats and based on distributed ledger systems,” the speaker said.

Governor of the Ulyanovsk Region Alexei Russkikh shared his experience in solving logistics issues for the region’s companies. In particular, the Ulyanovsk Region has launched a container train from China to Ulyanovsk.

“There are many companies in our region that have managed to find suppliers in China. Previously, they imported materials and components from Europe. We have organized a logistics route from China to Ulyanovsk. The first trains have already arrived; more are to set off in June. The regional government’s logistics support has greatly helped local companies’ develop foreign economic ties,” Alexei Russkikh said.

The global challenges of today have also affected the education system. According to Vice President for International Programs of University Synergy Timur Kornilov, the current issues to deal with include lack of electronic management systems for the educational process (LMS), insufficient number of interactive learning projects available as well as lost opportunity to work on international education platforms through which the higher education system increased the exports of Russian study programs.

“University Synergy is one of Russia’s biggest private universities, with more than 120,000 students. The university is also a top three Russian university for the number of international students. For more than 20 years, we have specifically focused on the technological component, developing our own digital projects. In particular, we are working on our own LMS as an import substitution effort, to have an integrated ecosystem for teaching and learning process management. We have also noticed a high demand for IT specialists on the labor market. To satisfy the demand, the university offers its tailored IT programs to students interested in professional development, vocational or higher education, including on Information Technology, Programming, System Administration and Security, E-Commerce and Creative Technology,” Timur Kornilov said.

The speaker also stressed that it is important to actively develop a career guidance system for young people. Today more than 60% nine-graders choose to go to colleges and vocational schools. In support of this trend, University Synergy has launched a project to create and develop a network of IT colleges in Russian regions, including on the principles of public-private partnership. Study programs are available in four major fields: Information Technology, E-Commerce, System Administration and Security and Creative Technology.

As another export support measure for entrepreneurs, Synergy has updated its acceleration program for exporters that is about to launch in two regions. Synergy also offers a professional development program for regional export support centers and employees of foreign trade departments of Russian companies.  

Plenary session participants expressed confidence that large-scale work on import substitution development will continue in the near future. Experts agreed that consolidating efforts and sharing relevant experience is necessary for success.

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