President Vladimir Putin inspected life-changing medical solutions made by resident companies of the Skolkovo Foundation at the Strategic Initiatives Forum in Moscow on Thursday.

President Vladimir Putin greeting a little girl with a prosthetic hand while Motorica director Ilya Chekh looks on. Photo:

The president met and shook hands with a little girl who has a robotic prosthetic hand made by Motorica, a resident of Skolkovo’s biomed cluster. The company makes brightly coloured functioning prosthetics fitted with extras such as an MP3 player or copter remote control, with the aim of making medical prosthetics more like modern gadgets that turn the kids, in the company’s words, “into superheroes.” Putin watched as the little girl demonstrated how her new bright pink hand has enabled her to use a skipping rope, among other activities.

Another Skolkovo startup that attracted Putin’s attention was ExoAtlet, which makes medical exoskeletons that help disabled people to walk again. At the forum, held at Moscow’s Soviet-era VDNKh exhibition centre, the president watched as a young man who had lost the use of his legs 10 years ago walked with the help of the exoskeleton.

ExoAtlet, which recently obtained official certification, meaning its exoskeletons – the first medical ones in Russia – are now available to buy, is a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster, which has its own Robocentre. The Robocentre’s head Albert Yefimov was due to moderate an open discussion at the second day of the forum on Friday about driverless transport in Russia. Driverless buses are already undergoing testing at Skolkovo and Volgabus is to open an R&D centre into the technology at the innovations centre next year.

ExoAtlet CEO Ekaterina Bereziy telling Putin about her company's exoskeletons while one is demonstrated. Photo:

The Strategic Initiatives Forum was being held to mark five years of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI) set up in 2011 by Putin with the aim of ensuring Russia’s social and economic development with an emphasis on technology and entrepreneurship. The forum demonstrated projects that have been supported by the ASI via its National Technology Initiative, which aims to create the conditions necessary for Russia to become a global tech leader by 2035.

“The expert council of the ASI first met five years ago,” Putin reminded a meeting of the council during his visit to the forum.

“The ASI was designed as a place where representatives of business and civil society would come with their problems and projects so that you would help everyone who wants to create something new and be successful,” he said.

In those five years, the ASI has supported nearly 200 projects, added Putin, who heads the agency’s supervisory council. It supported ExoAtlet by helping to organize clinical research for the exoskeletons from December 2015 in the Arkhangelsk, Novosibirsk, Sverdlovsk and Ulyanovsk regions.

Svetlana Chupsheva, director of social projects at the ASI, has said her department is keen for regional rehabilitation clinics to purchase the exoskeletons.

“It’s important to remember that higher demand and subsequent increased production will lead to the cost of the equipment decreasing, and then individuals will be able to buy it,” said Chupsheva.

Also on show at the forum were innovative products for use in communications, transport, housing utilities, agriculture and education.