The Skolkovo Softlanding program, an annual event aimed at helping foreign companies seeking entry into the Russian market, began its first ever session in online format. The program links up foreign companies seeking entry into the Russian market with development institutions, public authorities, partners, investors, and a network of experienced experts; it also offers detailed analysis, operational support, lectures, seminars, training, and an in-depth understanding of the Russian market.
Thirty-eight foreign companies are taking part in this year’s program, many of which hailed from distant parts of the globe, including Far East Asia, Central and South America, and South Africa as well as Europe. The company participants represent a range of fields such as telecommunications, business administration, edtech, agriculture, IT, aerospace engineering, fossil fuels, biometric security, healthcare, and so on.
The 2020 Skolkovo Softlanding Program comprised thirty-eight participants from sixteen countries across the globe. Image: Sk.ru.
The participants expressed different benefits they expect to gain from the Skolkovo Softlanding program, whether it is simply to learn more about market entry or to go further and find partners in local companies. One of the Korean participants, whose company, Orgamedi, manufactures artificial human organs, mentioned that it is actively searching for a partner and saw Russia as a viable candidate for its field of expertise.
“Our main goal is that you get up to date information about all Skolkovo services, and why Skolkovo is the best hub if you want to enter the Russian and CIS markets,” said Maxim Romanov, Deputy Vice President for International Development of the Skolkovo Foundation.
The potential that the Russian market has to offer to foreign companies is significant when considering the efforts taking place to increase its openness to foreign investment. The country has moved up in the Ease of Doing Business ranking to 28th place; this is a significant jump when taking into account that it held 124th place in 2010. Kirill Sergashov, one of the speakers, was quick to point out that the methodology for this ranking focused upon Moscow and St. Petersburg while leaving out the regions; yet Russia’s two largest cities are the nation’s centers of business. With Moscow as a technological city and Skolkovo as a bubble encouraging companies to innovate through tax incentive, grants, acceleration and so on, it is the place to be when starting out as a foreign business.
Stanislav Kolesnichenko of Skolkovo Ventures also pointed out that the country is tenth in the world in cybersecurity, programmers’ salaries are below world rates, and 50% of Google Code Jam competitions have been won by Russian programmers since 2003. These factors should play an important role in attracting tech companies.
On day two of the Skolkovo Softlanding program, the participants will do pitch sessions before Skolkovo experts from IT companies. Day three will consist of presentations on practical topics such as intellectual property in Russia, grants and how to apply for them, work permits/visas, and how to apply for Skolkovo resident status. The program will then wrap up its final day with more pitch sessions and feedback from Skolkovo experts from the energy efficiency technologies cluster, the advanced industrial technologies cluster, and the biomedical technologies cluster.