The Skolkovo innovation city marked Knowledge Day, as September 1 is celebrated across Russia as the start of the new academic year, with a visit by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who toured the brand new campus of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) ahead of its official opening.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wished Skoltech students the best of luck in their studies. Photo:

The prime minister, who was the brains behind the founding of the Skolkovo innovation city in 2010 and Skoltech the following year, was shown around the giant state-of-the-art Skoltech campus, which he told students he had been most impressed with, describing it as “outstanding” and “unique.”

“What I liked most of all was not even the equipment or the architecture, but the atmosphere, which feels unique and will undoubtedly facilitate the process of obtaining all the necessary knowledge – and that is, after all, what you are here for,” Medvedev told students of the graduate research university gathered in the sunshine in the university’s large inner courtyard for an afternoon of barbecued food and music.

Skoltech was set up in cooperation with Massachusetts Institute of Technology. About one third of its students are international, and the working language of the institute is English.

Medvedev tours the new Skoltech campus flanked by Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg to the left, Kuleshov to the right, Skolkovo board chair Igor Drozdov and Skolkovo Foundation council co-chair Arkady Dvorkovich. Photo:

Medvedev wished the students success in their endeavours, and said he hoped they would bring value to Russian society and the other countries they represent. He also encouraged them to find free time away from their studies.

“Study, do your research, but have fun too: that’s very important,” the prime minister advised them.

“To create something, you have to sometimes have a rest.”

Skoltech will start its academic year as usual with its month-long Innovation Workshop programme, which will be held in the new campus. The university’s labs will move into the new campus from Skoltech’s current home in another part of the innovation city in a staggered process over the next 12 to 18 months.

“We are celebrating three different events today,” said Skoltech president Alexander Kuleshov.

“Firstly, Knowledge Day, secondly, the coming of a new generation of Skoltech students, and thirdly, the pre-opening of the new campus. We’ll start our Innovation Workshop in this campus,” he said.

Kuleshov welcomed new students starting their masters and PhD studies at the institute this year, and warned them that they would have to study hard, but said his door was always open for them.

L-R: Dmitry Medvedev, Vladimir Zelman, Andrei Pokrovsky, Charles Liu and Alexander Kuleshov. Photo:

Saturday’s celebration also saw the signing of an agreement to set up a new neurobiology and neurorehabilitation centre at Skoltech: the result of cooperation between researchers from Skoltech, the University of Southern California (USC) and Novosibirsk State University. The establishment agreement was signed by Kuleshov, USC professor of neurosurgery and neurology Charles Yu Liu, and Andrei Pokrovsky, director of the Zelman Institute of Medicine and Psychology of Novosibirsk State University. The signing was overseen by Vladimir Zelman himself, a professor of life sciences at Skoltech and a professor and co-chair of anesthesiology at the USC Keck School of Medicine, who was described as the inspiration behind the new centre.

As a young institute, Skoltech has only had a handful of graduation ceremonies, but its alumni are already returning to their alma mater to express their gratitude. On Saturday, two graduates who founded the Karfidov Lab engineering design laboratory presented the university with an endowment of 1 million rubles ($15,000).

“We came to Skoltech in 2012 dreaming of establishing an engineering company,” said the company’s co-founder Dmitry Vasilyev.

“Our dream came true, so we would like to thank our professors and supervisors from Skoltech and everyone else who was there for us for their support.”