Press about RVC

NTI projects enjoying both grants and venture money

Source: Vedomosti


The Russian Venture Company (RVC) is reported to be creating a new venture fund with the capital of 3 billion roubles to finance the projects of the National Technological Initiative (VTI).

Previously, NTI projects were grant-supported. For example, the grants were provided by Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises in Science and Technology (known as the Bortnik Foundation) and in 2016 there was a special fund that supported NTI projects via grants. The new fund is seen as the alternative support measure and will be based on the venture capital scheme whereby any start-up is invested in exchange for profit.

The Fund will invest in projects dealing with storage and analysis of big data, artificial intelligence, the Internet of things, neurotechnologies, virtual and augmented reality.

1.5 billion roubles will be allocated from the federal budget if 2017. According to the official documentation, the RVC has already received this kind of supporting money. Until March 2018 Infrafund RVC (a subsidiary fund of the company) is going to arrange the competition to determine a management company. The company should attract 1.5 billion roubles from private co-investors and make at least 1% of the fund's capital.

The creation of NTI was accented by the Russian President Vladimir Putin in his message to the Federal Assembly on December 4, 2014, where he called this program one of the priorities of federal policy. The program operates road maps, which envisage the use of new technologies in car industry, aviation, shipbuilding and marine resources, energy, medicine, as well as in human- -machine neurocommunication.

This is not the only fund sponsored by RVC, which has seriously considered the venture financing of NTI projects. Last summer it was reported that RVC and Skolkovo were creating three funds to raise investments in IT, industrial technologies and biomedicine (the latter was eventually replaced by agro technology). Over the last six months, the funds, managed by Skolkovo Ventures, have approved (but have not yet concluded) three deals with NTI projects, Skolkovo Ventures’ CEO, Vasiliy Belov, says. He consideres the new fund to be a "logical follow-up" to the strategy, which finances the initiative's projects.

Indeed, the tools complement each other, Pavel Gudkov, the Deputy CEO of the Bortnik Foundation, explains. For example, early-stage projects should be financed with about 20 million roubles, so the grants are the more reasonable option here, while for late-stage projects (or for high-risk projects) venture investment is preferable.

The projects, receiving NTI grants, have already become known to public. For example, in early December, a Russian developer of voice biometrics, "STC Group", received the grant of 270 million roubles to create the AI-based technology for analysing sound environment. A month earlier an Aircraft Solution design bureau, which develops cargo drones, had received a grant equal to 244 million roubles. With the granted money the company is going to complete the drone and its control system and adapt it for the needs of agriculture (the drone should be able to fly low and fitted with anti-corrosion protection). Eventually, the team will develop a Skyf for cargo deliveries across Northern areas; the drone will be fitted with an ice protection and a long-distance communication system. In 2017 the federal budget was to spend 12.46 billion roubles on financing the needs of NTI. What with the moneys, allocated for the fund in 2017, next year NTI will be financed with 13 billion roubles, an NTI official informs. 8 billion comes from the federal budget of 2018 with another 5 billion transferred from 2017.

By: Svetlana Yastrebova

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