Pierre Levy, the French Ambassador to Russia, was quite surprised when, during a visit to a Skoltech laboratory, he saw an Eiffel Tower in miniature, which was made as a test product for controlling a 3D printer.

The tower has been reproduced with the highest accuracy; its small details are thinner than a human hair. When the French diplomat, accompanied by Academician Alexander Kuleshov, the Skoltech rector, left the laboratory, the head of the students' workshop stepped up to him and handed him the Paris symbol in a transparent box. It took less than 7 minutes to print a ten-millimeter-thick box of acrylic glass on a 3D printer.

Alexander Kuleshov, the Skoltech rector, demonstrates one of the university laboratories to Pierre Levy, the French Ambassador to Russia. Photo courtesy: Sk.ru.

The head of the French diplomatic mission started his first visit to the Innovation Center in Technopark, where Arkady Dvorkovich, Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, received the French diplomats. Mr. Dvorkovich spoke in detail about the project and shared his vision of the future Innovation Center. Skolkovo today is already part of the Large Skolkovo agglomeration and the further development vector involves the spread of the Skolkovo model to all regions of Russia.

On May 21, there will be held the key event for Skolkovo, the Startup Village technology conference. "This is usually a tremendous event, which unites more than ten thousand people from Russia and other countries. This year it will be held in virtual format; we will gather the same audience, but through the Internet." There was no need to explain the reasons for such a transformation to the diplomats from Europe.

"Skolkovo is not only a Technopark; it is, above all, the legislative framework. And in this sense, Skolkovo is more an ideology than a location," said Arkady Dvorkovich.

Thanks to the special legal status of the Innovation Center, it can provide more than 2,300 participants with multiple services, as well as a number of fiscal and customs preferences to facilitate research and development. According to the Foundation Chairman, Skolkovo is not an industrial test site.

Pierre Levy, the French Ambassador to Russia in the Skolkovo Technopark. Photo courtesy: Sk.ru.

When talking with the Skolkovo representatives, Mr. Pierre Levy asked how the Skolkovo differs from Station F, a French accelerator.

Arkady Dvorkovich noted that the French innovation cluster is mainly engaged in accelerating startups under the shade of corporations, while the range of activities in Skolkovo is wider. This is not in favor of any format, they are just different. Besides, Station F does not have a university and one of the cornerstones of the Skolkovo project is the Skoltech international research university. 

Arkady Dvorkovich, Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation: the Skolkovo innovation model is being spread to all regions of Russia. Photo courtesy: Sk.ru.


It was there that the French delegation moved after visiting the Technopark.

Here the diplomats were joined by Victor Vekselberg, Chairman of the Board of Skolkovo Foundation. In his conversation with the French ambassador Pierre Levy, he emphasized that this year is a special year for the Innovation Center, since this is the year of the Foundation's tenth anniversary.

"France played an important role in the development of our project, he said. — Your architects, designers, and scientists were very active in this regard. And we are looking forward to developing our cooperation."

"We share this aspiration," the ambassador replied.

At the end of the visit to Skoltech, Mr. Pierre Levy gave a brief interview to Sk.ru

Victor Vekselberg, Chairman of the Board of Skolkovo Foundation: France played an important role in the development of the project and this cooperation should continue. Photo courtesy: Sk.ru.

"I arrived in Moscow in mid-January, so this is my first visit to Skolkovo, which I heard a lot about," the head of the diplomatic mission said. — I was very impressed with all the facilities of the Skolkovo Technopark for startups, as well as with the university.

This project is very interesting. Of particular interest to us is the cooperation between Skoltech and French universities and companies. Both France and Russia have very old and promising relations in this field. Together with my team, I want to contribute to the development of relations between French universities and Skoltech."

The ambassador added that his visit is taking place during hard times. "This time is critical for all of us and it will have far-reaching consequences, says Pierre Levy. — I think it is worth considering the future world order. This is not deglobalization that I am talking about. We have just discussed with the Skoltech rector that one of the key elements in everything we do is related to the mobility — the mobility of students, research, and, of course, the mobility of capital. Today we see the negative impact of the coronavirus disease crisis on the global economy. But I believe that things will go better."

During their visit to the Innovation Center, the French diplomats were told that in Skolkovo there is a tradition of holding the Days of those countries, with which there is the closest cooperation. The Day of France could be held at the end of this year or early next year. Mr. Pierre Levy promised to consider this proposal.