The Future Dialogue conference traditionally hosted by the Max Planck Society and Siemens took place on April, 9-10 in the Skolkovo Hypercube. Each year the organizers choose a country and the conference theme. Russia's Future Dialogue was devoted to innovations and brought together leading experts, representatives of government and business at Skolkovo headquarters.
During the panel discussions, expert presentations, and comments of participants, everyone agreed that the orientation towards the future, new technologies, approaches and solutions is the key to success for states, companies and individuals. At the same time, most speakers emphasized the crucial role of the government in building the innovation ecosystem, which is the basis for cooperation of all interested institutions.
The Deputy Minister of Economic Development A. Fominykh said in his speech that the importance of most tasks of innovation development is obvious, and that they must be considered together. The main objective of Russia is the creation of its own innovation ecosystem, but, as he noted, it is easier said than done.
Edward Crawley, the Rector of Skoltech, agreed with his point of view: Everything is changing so quickly. We should use all changes for the benefit of innovations. The government must create the climate, not the weather. These changes should take place prior to innovations. The future will not wait for a proactive position of the state or companies.
One of the most pressing issues discussed at the conference was the funding of innovation development. Edward Kanalosh, Investment Director at Skolkovo Foundation said: Russia has enough capital, its venture capital market is evaluated from $70M to $250M a year, and we are among the top five world’s largest markets on this indicator. Skolkovo has allocated $261M in grants over 2.5 years of its work, while private investors invested $264M.
At the same time, he said that the situation changes for the worse when we turn to the distribution of funds. 70% of total investment accounts for e-commerce. It means that other industries remain underfunded. Late stage companies receive 49% of investment provided, while early stage companies - only 4%.
Experts see a solution of the problem in the development of a business angel institute and creation of seed funds to invest in early stage companies. Legal framework to protect the rights of investors and innovators should also be improved.
Special attention was paid to international cooperation in innovations. Peter Gruss, the president of the Max Planck Society, expressed the position of the majority of participants: International cooperation of science and business is not an option but a necessity. R&D cannot be carried out by one nation or one man only.
Viktor Vekselberg, the President of the Skolkovo Fund, said in turn: We have already signed 30 cooperation agreements with global corporations. The volume of liabilities is over $1B. Current economic challenges of different countries require international cooperation, which is part of our global policy, and we will implement it.
The final report was made by the Chairman of the Russian Government Dmitry Medvedev: Innovations will not appear if we do not develop them. They cannot be developed in the office, and they are not the result of banking. We have embarked on the development of innovative economy. I am convinced, this is the only option we have.
D. A. Medvedev provided two important achievements of Russia as an example. Russian major companies allocated about 550B RUR on innovations this year. State institutions for innovation development were mentioned by the Prime Minister as the second achievement: On March, 29 I approved a programme for the development of innovations till 2020. Of course, we do not have a planned economy, but we still need to plan. We have all tools required, as well as development institutions such as Skolkovo, which has both practical and symbolic significance.
Viktor Vekselberg said during a discussion after the speech of the Prime Minister, that the development programme adopted until 2020 includes a special section focused on Skolkovo.