Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich declared Eastern Europe’s biggest startup conference open on Tuesday, as Startup Village revved into gear and more than 10,000 registered visitors swarmed around a sun-drenched Innovation Center.
From left: Arkady Dvorkovich, Victor Vekselberg, Alexander Chernov, Pekka Viljakainen. Photo: skru
Set in the scenic grounds of the Technopark Office Center just outside Moscow, Startup Village is a two-day, open-air festival of innovation and entrepreneurship designed to stimulate the high-tech sector of the Russian economy.
Organizers had feared that showers might dampen the atmosphere at the event – and still have contingency plans should the heavens open – but as of early Tuesday the weather was holding.
"I congratulate you all on the opening of this grand festival," Dvorkovich boomed from the Open Stage, shaded from the brilliant sunshine. "This is a festival of entrepreneurship and innovations. a festival of people burning with the desire to bring their ideas to life, to create something beautiful and interesting for people and to make money. And that's great," he said to applause. "You make money, and the whole country makes money. That's the idea behind Skolkovo. This all looks so fantastic. Skolkovo is no longer just a word, it is a place," added Dvorkovich.
"These two days will be exciting, seriously cool. They are the culmination of the Startup Tour, which was held in 12 cities around Russia as well as Almaty and Minsk. Thanks to everyone who came for your support, and we are supporting you. Hurrah!"
Skolkovo president Victor Vekselberg had already been intoxicated by the Startup Village buzz, telling throngs of people crowding around the stage:
"You really are friends and colleagues of this ambitious project, which proves in this country you can really achieve a lot. I want to thank you that you are here, that you are supporting us and yourselves. There are lots of problems, some of which you can’t see – believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg – but looking at you, looking at your burning eyes, I’m confident we’ll achieve great success," he said.
Speaking of the foreign ambassadors he had met that morning, many of whom had visited Skolkovo years ago, Vekselberg said: "On their faces I saw genuine surprise. What’s been achieved shows what potential we have.”
Startup Village is built around three of the four Technopark Office Center buildings and extends over the picturesque lake and woods behind the complex, utilizing an 80,000-square-meter chunk of the 400 hectare innovation center.
More than 10,000 guests will wind their way around the buildings, stages, marquees over the two days. More than 2,000 of them are startups looking for investment, grants, mentorship and Skolkovo residency, while around 500 are investors and representatives of investment funds, another 500 are speakers including former F1 star Mika Hakkinen, AvtoVAZ CEO Bo Andersson and TechCrunch editor Mike Butcher.
Skolkovo president Victor Vekselberg. Photo: sk.ru
The Startup Village program will be an hour old by the time Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich takes to the Open Stage for the grand opening at 11:00 on Tuesday.Covered by 350 journalists from the leading domestic and international media outlets, Startup Village boasts more than 170 panel discussions, workshops, mentor sessions and master-classes.
Three conference events will be running and the preliminary stages of the pitch competition – held across six categories – will be underway by then.
In the background, the Startup Bazaar will be a hive of activity, with 70 Skolkovo resident companies exhibiting their innovations, many of which will be interactive.
A detailed preview of Startup Village can be found here, while Sk.ru is providing live updates from Startup Village here.