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Leading Exhibit: What Was Discussed at the Technology Forum in Sochi?

Source: Izvestia

Project:  Global Technology Leadership Forum

The state is ready to invest 258 billion roubles in high-tech breakthrough projects from 2020 to 2024, private investors will give the same amount, said Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov at the Global Technology Leadership Forum. In Sochi, where the event was held, the authors of promising developments in the field of robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors, quantum technologies, and others met with potential partners and investors. The effectiveness of government investment in end-to-end technology is already evident: in particular, 14 centres of competence of the National Technological Initiative (NTI) have been launched in the country, which conduct research and offer specific developments for implementation.

Exchange of Ideas

The Global Technology Leadership Forum was held from December 5 to 7 in Sochi by Russian Venture Company (RVC) and the NTI Platform with the support of the Russian government. The urgent tasks of the event, as stated by their organizers, are the formation of the state’s innovative policy, attracting investors to support breakthrough projects, and also the development of high-tech export of Russian products.

“Thanks to end-to-end technologies, for the first time in many decades, we have a chance not to buy seats in the last car of the departing train, but to declare our ambitions to be a leader even in the process of developing new markets,” emphasized Dmitry Peskov, President's Special Representative for Digital Technological Development. — “With the correct implementation of these opportunities, our country will be able to secure digital sovereignty, the basis of which will, in particular, be developments in the field of operating systems, antiviruses, and end-to-end data transfer protocols”.

According to Dmitry Peskov, the effectiveness of public investment in these areas is already confirmed by practice. In particular, 14 centres of competencies (engineering and educational units based on universities aimed at the development of technologies) were launched in the country — “Izvestia”) NTI, which conduct research and offer specific developments on end-to-end technologies.

“At least two more centres of competence will appear next year,” said Peskov.

One of the most striking formats of the forum was the exchange of support programs, during which start-up leaders presented their projects to potential investors using short presentations, and then answered their questions. Representatives of the Skolkovo Foundation acted as specialists who considered the possibility of financing a knowledge-based business.

“We are looking for technologies and companies that have already proved themselves in business (with revenues of more than 50 million roubles) and need investments to develop products further and enter new sales markets,” said Stanislav Kolesnichenko, the Ecosystem Development Director at Skolkovo-Venture Investments. — “There were many exciting projects here; they are widely represented in the segments of IT-technologies and industry 4.0, which we focus on”.

In particular, the speaker singled out the company Geoscan — its specialists produce unmanned systems capable of creating 3D models of entire regions with all roads, houses, and communications. So, within the framework of the project, a spatial model of the Tula Region was created, which allowed identifying unused areas of agricultural land.

The representative of Skolkovo also pointed out the weaknesses in the training of Russian start-ups, which, however, are not critical.

“Most entrepreneurs devote little time to evaluating target markets, which is why they have problems creating a value proposition for potential customers,” says Stanislav Kolesnichenko. — “For this, consultations with Skolkovo, NTI, and ASI specialists are necessary, as a result of which teams create investment-attractive financial models for themselves and adjust development strategies. In many ways, this is what technology forums are needed for, at one of which we are working today”.

A Student for Business

Representatives of large companies and state corporations also searched for fresh, innovative ideas at the forum. They are ready to implement the best of them in their business processes.

“First of all, we are interested in projects related to such advanced areas as quantum communications and big data,” explained Nikolai Mantsevich, head of the Department of Science and Innovation JSC (SC Rosatom). “Also, we place particular emphasis on robotics, which allows employees to conduct remote manipulations with radioactive materials, ensuring their safety”.

For example, among the solutions that increase the safety of workers in the energy sector, the Tightrope Walker robot was presented at the forum. This mechanism, similar to a mechanical spider, can move along power lines, carrying out their diagnostics and necessary repairs, which eliminates the contact of people with dangerous high-voltage wires.

Also, Rosatom is closely watching the scientific developments of Russian universities.

“We try to support the research and development of universities and bring them to the stage when the product fully meets our needs, after which we begin its introduction into the industry,” said Nikolai Mantsevich.

We arrived at the forum and representatives of universities.

“At the forum, we tried to convey our experience of creating a venture fund at the university so that other Russian universities could adopt it and become more actively involved in the innovation process,” said Konstantin Belyakov, Advisor to the Rector of Tomsk State University. — “Moreover, we are not acting alone, but as part of a group of 18 educational institutions. This allowed us to interest Mikhail Kotyukov, the Minister of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, who instructed his staff to consider the possibility of implementing the initiative”.

Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov, speaking at the plenary session of the second day of the forum, stressed the state’s readiness to support promising projects proposed by the participants.

“Financing of high-tech projects from the federal budget for the period from 2020 to 2024 will amount to 258 billion roubles, and about the same amount will be allocated by private investors,” the official noted.

According to Maxim Akimov, these amounts are unprecedented for Russian practice. They will go on the development of such breakthrough areas as robotics, quantum technologies, wireless communications, virtual reality, manufacturing technologies, and artificial intelligence.

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