Government fund of funds
Development institute of the Russian Federation

Press about RVC

We strive to minimize risks from all sides

Source: Kommersant


How has the Russian venture market changed over the last few years? What start-ups are interesting for investors? Where and why do corporations come for innovation? This and many other things were talked about in an interview between the observer of Kommersant FM, Yuri Mitin and Gulnara Bikkulova, Deputy General Director, Development Director of the Russian Venture Company.

— "Russian Venture Company" was established in 2006. Over the past ten years there have been both ups and downs in the Russian venture market. How do you assess the potential of the current market of 2017? To what extent are the investors willing to invest in startups? What kind of assistance does RVC provide in this regard?

— In terms of the number of transactions, in fact, the situation is quite rosy. We see a lot of syndicated deals appearing in Russia, that is, the average check invested by an investor in one transaction is decreasing, while in terms of the number of transactions there we have an increase. Every year new investors come to the market. Almost 80% of transactions at the venture market are transactions involving new investors. At the same time, the experienced venture investors are changing their focus of attention. Lots of Russian venture investors are known to be very active in international markets today.

— The investors find it most interesting to see how the "Russian Venture Company" helps the players of the venture market understand which company is a worthy investment and which isn't. What tools does RVC offer?

"Of course, we are aware that the responsibility for a particular investment rests with a particular venture investor, but we do try to minimize these risks from all sides. On the one hand, we launch a sufficient number of educational programs for venture investors, where we talk about how the market is structured, what players are in it, what factors to consider when investing in technology projects. On the other hand, we collaborate with other development institutions to actively ensure that Russia will have as many quality startups as possible. We do this on several levels. RVC, for example, has a large system of partners from regional technology parks, incubators, who we help to launch startup schools, regional accelerating programs to create projects that investors could pay attention to.

At the federal level, we do a big project called GenerationS. We customize it to the needs of Russian corporations. GenerationS is a series of corporate accelerators — last year there were eight of them — which we are doing together with major Russian companies, that, in fact, commission us to create those projects and developments that they would be willing to use in their own businesses. It is for their needs that these accelerating programs are built.

— I hear you say "corporate acceleration", GenerationS is a federal competition with eight tracks, and why do corporations come? Could it be coercion from above, there is someone telling them to buy innovations, start-ups and to support the demand for innovation? Or are there any specific tasks, problems that can be solved with the help of an accelerator?

— Indeed, we know that there is a big problem in the Russian venture market — the one with exits. The venture investors hope that at some point Russian corporations will be so interested in Russian technologies that they will make up a large share of strategic investments in the market. But the pace of it, unfortunately, is very slow. We do encourage, so to say, companies into a more active engagement in innovation, and we have completely different ways of so doing.

GenerationS is one of them. Through GenerationS, we seek out interesting projects for corporations, who for some reason are interested in making innovations, and integrating them into their businesses. They are our innovative ambassadors within corporations, we shape accelerators. We see the number of such corporations grow every year. As early as three years back we talked about four industry tracks, today there are already eight. In each track we have several corporations, which are pooled together to form a pool of requirements for the selection of incoming projects and continue to participate together in the acceleration's program by creating pilot projects with Russian start-ups.

— How many of such companies, technologies can you find in one of the tracks?

— Naturally, every corporation that comes forth as a track partner is interested in having thousands of projects to choose from. Yet, we understand that it is difficult to find any projects or start-ups in some areas in Russia. For example, a track like metallurgy or any other industrial track has about several hundred projects. In simpler tracks, for example, Creative Technology track, where we look for projects in education, advertising, gaming, the number of incoming projects reaches almost a thousand. Therefore, different tracks have different situations. But, nevertheless, we try to get to each university, to each research institute, to each technopark, where there is a chance of finding a project interesting to our industrial partners.

— You have already said that hundreds of start-ups have already passed through the GenerationS accelerator; there are companies in which your corporate partners have invested their moneys. Are there any specific criteria to determine whether the startup will be a success? Since everyone does not look for a multitude of startups, but rather one or two high-quality realizable technologies. Is there a secret formula for success that can be recommended to entry-level venture investors?

— We know that there are no ideal people or ideal projects for everybody. This is a very subjective question, therefore, we choose, of course, to focus on what interests our industrial partners, and the industrial partners understand what they need. In this regard, we often have complaints from start-ups, writing us lots of letters about why we did not choose them for the corporate accelerator. We only answer that it was the corporate partner's decision. When the corporate partner sees this or that team, they decide whether to go on working with them, to do a joint pilot, whether to maintain any long-term interests in relation to a particular start-up. In this sense we completely rely on the opinion of those partners who we work with. Therefore, my advice to venture investors would be to look for those partners who can be trusted in the first place, because venture business is long-standing; it really poses numerous risks for both the start-ups and investors.

G.Bikkulova: Innovations in agriculture will keep growing

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