Rapidly growing technology companies will find it easier to gain support, in particular, financial, in Russia — Russian Venture Company (RVC) has launched a special digital platform for direct liaising with them. Of course, the companies developing products and solutions for the National Technology Initiative (NTI) markets, the project office for which is RVC, will be prioritized. Ilyz Kurmyshev, Director for NTI Market Development, Russian Venture Company, told to Invest Foresight how the selection of high tech projects to be supported would change, if new NTI market areas would emerge and if the launch of a new market tool would impact the venture market development.
— Ilya Nikolaevich, how many projects have already been supported as part of the National Technology Initiative?
— So far, approx. 500 projects have gained NTI support. These include the companies that gained financing via the NTI Project Support Foundation and the Innovation Assistance Foundation. That is to say, the history of liaising with the technology business is rather long. Hopefully, several dozens of strong projects that we will be able to support, to which we will provide our services and help with engaging co-investors, will come to us this year.
— Whom do you prioritize?
— Our key priorities are market-based, first of all. There is a series of new markets, or NTI nets. These are rapidly developing technology markets at the early establishment stage, where there are no generally recognized leaders and established rules of the game. These include: Autonet, Aeronet, Healthnet, Neuronet, Energynet, Marinet. Thanks to the use of digital technologies and innovative solutions, the demand for entirely new products is taking shape on these markets. There is also a system of end-to-end NTI technologies that sets the technology targets to the company submitting their applications to us. Thus, the balance of market and technology priorities should be complied with for each project.
— What is the role of the RVC technology platform in this process?
— One of the major objectives for the digital platform is to create the pipeline of the companies, with which we will be able to work and to which we will be able to address our offers. All companies we liaised in any particular way may become the platform users, get registered on it, create personal accounts. The main thing is to gain access to all offers: to the already announced ones and to the ones that will appear month after month.
— Does it mean that getting support will become simpler?
— It does. At least, there was no interface where companies were able to learn about business support programs as part of NTI. Now they have such opportunity. In the digital platform, the companies are able to learn about available services and submit an application in order to make use of them. At first, it will be our own products and, I hope, in the future, also the projects that our partners will provide.
So far, four project financial support programs have been developed, and we offer them on NTI side. Moreover, companies will gain access to non-financial tools by using digital platforms. Today we presented two of such programs: participation in TechUspech-2019 rating and in the National Champions Project launched by the Ministry of Economic Development.
— Companies of what level do the support programs focus on?
— Mostly on medium and large technology business, enjoying good growth and, most importantly, focusing on the global market. Export revenues and the export promotion strategy matter. The companies focusing on the domestic market only are not the target for NTI. However, we often deal with the projects that are represented on the Russian market only, but such businessmen should have ambitions and potential for expanding abroad.
— Where to?
— We began active assistance to the companies to enter the South Eastern Asia markets last year. For instance, the Export Accelerator Program operates in RVC perimeter. It focuses on non-financial support to companies. We have good contacts with partners in a number of Asian markets, we help the technology business go there. Last year, the accelerator dealt with the IoT, AI and Big Data companies. This year, we plan to expand our technology focus.
— The projects of such TNI markets as Aeronet, Neuronet are being actively discussed. We hear about other markets less frequently. Do they grow slower?
— It is due to external reasons. Due to global technology trends, the markets we hear more frequently about have a higher market dynamics than less frequently mentioned markets do. On the other hand, we all know that some technologies are noticeable, snazzy, others (especially in B2B segment) are not so well known but are equivalent to the former in terms of innovation rate, potential and the scale of business that may grow on their basis.
There are several new technology markets for which the roadmaps have not been approved. They are being assembled, and I hope several new NTI market directions will emerge this year.
— Will the digital platform launch have direct implications for the venture market development?
— There is no direct correlation here but investment tools make part of the support program, which we announced, they will also be represented on the platform, too. The venture industry representatives always attend NTI project committee meetings where resolutions on subsequent project implementation are made. In this sense, the more companies come to the platform the more information on them will be available to foundations.
— Do you mean venture foundations with RVC participation?
— First of all, these are the foundations having the NTI mandate, in which RVC acted as a co-investor. Besides, we deal with a large number of private venture foundations. One of our objectives is to raise finance to NTI projects from private and corporate investors.
Interview by Olga Blinova