The Olympic Committee of Russia is to build a 50,000 sq. m. research and development center at the Skolkovo Innovation Center by 2018 under an agreement signed Friday by the two parties.
Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov, left, and Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg. Photo: sk.ru.
The agreement, inked at the Hypercube on Friday by Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg and Olympic committee president Alexander Zhukov, sets out a road map for the planning and construction of the center, which is to open the same year as Russia hosts football’s World Cup."I think that after the spectacular victory of the Russian team at the Winter Games in Sochi a year ago, we see huge, huge sporting potential in Russia today," said Vekselberg in opening remarks.
"We are overjoyed that the Olympic committee has taken the decision to come to use with its ideas and its innovations that are in great demand by athletes."
Zhukov, for his part, explained that "in modern sport it's just not possible to win without the most cutting-edge innovations in the field of modern medicine, technology and sports science."
"Sport is high technology in itself. Winners are those who are at the frontiers of technology and who have an entire technological foundation beneath them," he added. "Of course, we import the best foreign practices, but we want Russia, as a great sporting power, to do its research in this field independently."
A visualization of the R&D Center. Photo: sk.ru
The center has several goals: to develop sports and biomedicine technologies and innovative sporting equipment, to stimulate import-substitution and transfer of foreign technologies, to commercialize sports-related innovations developed by Skolkovo startups, and also to provide recovery and rehabilitation facilities, among other things.
It will provide 600 jobs and house a range of specialized training facilities including an oxygen-deprivation unit that simulates high-altitude exercise, which athletes undergo to increase the efficiency of the blood’s oxygen-delivery processes, said Kirill Kaem, Skolkovo vice president and executive director of the biomed cluster.
“If you put an athlete in conditions that imitate high altitude ahead of competition, Olympians can deliver better results,” Kaem said. “And that is legal, unlike taking chemical substances and doping, like erythropoietin,” he added.
There are to be six labs in total: elite sport, sports technology, information support, mountain training, a body lab and haemolab, Kaem revealed.
It represents a first foray into sports for Skolkovo, which focuses on five areas of research: IT, nuclear, energy, biomed and space.
“We understand that certain projects [at Skolkovo] could very well be of interest to the Olympic committee,” Kaem said. “Collaborating with the OCR will give us another avenue of opportunity for Skolkovo startups, and not just for the biomed cluster.”
Most important in the formation of the R&D Center, Kaem stressed, is that it is Russia-based. The Olympic committee conducts many of these activities already, but only by contracting foreign-based facilities, he said.
Not only will the center bring Russia independence, but also it can attract clients from abroad, Kaem added.
“Countries that host such facilities keep all the most cutting-edge developments for themselves,” he noted. “Olympic success is a question of national prestige.”