The Chairmen Fireside session at DLD Moscow gave the audience the unique opportunity to witness a great discussion between two fascinating minds: DLD chairman Yossi Vardi and Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg.
The Skolkovo Foundation, which invited DLD in Moscow, has been dubbed the Russian Silicon Valley, a term Vekselberg rejects. Instead, he sees the venture as the “creation an ecosystem, a special environment in Russia where young people are given a chance” to develop their ideas and seize opportunities.
Focused around 5 priorities (energy efficiency, IT, biotech, nuclear and space), the Project will be a mix between an graduate school-type of educational institution - on the model of MIT, with which they have a deal - and technopark hosting 1000+ start-ups. If the first building has yet to be finished, the Skolkovo already has prestigious international partners like Microsoft, Siemens and IBM.
In front of a packed room, Yossi Vardi lauded the ambitious project: “I see the Skolkovo Project as a beacon for Russia”. if you want to create a project like this, “you need the infrastructure, the knowledge and a sparkle: spirit. From what I see here, you have all three.” He also recommended the Foundation look into building alliances between large companies and small startups.
If the Skolkovo Foundation, a non-profit organization, is for now supported by the Russian state, Vekselberg said that in the future funding should come largely from private busineses, VCs and private investment. “Skolkovo is not a Medvedev or Putin project. It is a project of Russia and for the country.”