The Skolkovo Foundation signed an agreement with Singapore’s Action Community for Entrepreneurship (ACE) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) on Wednesday during the ASEAN-Russian summit in Singapore. 

Alexander Khanin (left), CEO of Skolkovo resident company VisionLabs, demonstrates his company's face recognition technology to Putin (right) and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (centre). Photo:

Under the memorandum of understanding, the two Russian organisations will work together with ACE — a private sector organisation set up to drive entrepreneurship and innovation in Singapore — to develop startup ecosystems in the two countries. RDIF (Russia’s sovereign wealth fund) and its partners will be potential investors in the most attractive projects and startups.

“Singapore has traditionally been one of Russia's main partner countries in southeast Asia,” said Yury Saprykin, vice president of international and regional policy at the Skolkovo Foundation.

“In addition to traditional areas of working together, cooperation in technological development is actively advancing, in particular in the field of smart city technology,” he said.

In practical terms, the signing of an agreement with ACE means “the emergence of a trusted partner for Skolkovo’s companies, the opening of an office in Singapore and the ability to scale-up plans in the southeast Asian region. ACE's physical presence is at the epicentre of Singapore's innovative entrepreneurship, and the partner network covers more than 800 startups, venture capital funds and accelerators,” said Saprykin.

Skolkovo's senior vice president for innovations Kirill Kaem (left) shakes hands on the deal with ACE with its chairman, Mark Hon, at the signing ceremony in Singapore. Photo:

Dr. Mark Hon, chairman of ACE, said the organisation was “excited to embark on this partnership with RDIF and the Skolkovo Foundation to create more collaborative opportunities for startups in Singapore and Russia. Through this partnership, the Skolkovo Foundation will be one of ACE’s Connected Ecosystem partners and act as an innovation connection point in Russia to drive co-innovation between both countries’ startup ecosystems.”

The three-way cooperation will open up additional opportunities for young Russian companies to enter the markets of southeast Asia, “and also allow us to gain access to a large number of promising technology projects both in Russia and abroad,” said Kirill Dmitriev, CEO of the RDIF.

Skolkovo startups were out in force in Singapore this week during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to the city-state to attend the Russia-ASEAN summit on November 13-15.

Group-IB CEO Ilya Sachkov (right) demonstrates his company's cybersecurity technology to a group of government ministers headed by deputy prime minister Maxim Akimov (left). Photo:

Putin visited the Skolkovo stand at a smart cities showcase at the Suntec Singapore convention centre, where the solutions of 20 Skolkovo residents working on smart city technology in areas ranging from security and construction to industry and medicine were on show. Those companies included Group-IB, a cybersecurity company that announced this week the opening of a new global office in Singapore, and face recognition technology wizards VisionLabs.

Singapore, which has a startup tax exemption scheme and launchpads across the city-state, was ranked second place in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report. It is implementing a Smart Nation programme to introduce new technologies at all levels of the economy and aims to turn Singapore into a “living laboratory” for testing tech solutions to urban problems.

Skolkovo has close ties with the innovative island nation, which was the official partner country of the Open Innovations forum held at Skolkovo in 2017, when Jacqueline Poh, CEO of GovTech Singapore, took part in the plenary session together with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Alibaba Group head Jack Ma.