The first Mentor-Protégé pairing has been formed by the Skolkovo Mentors Program – an effort to steer startups in the right direction by appointing an expert to consult in key areas of development.

The program is a pillar of the Skolkovo Foundation’s drive to create a culture of entrepreneurship in Russia by borrowing expertise from captains of industry.

“This is a good start for the Mentors Program,” said Alexey Ermolin, the head of Skolkovo’s Acceleration and Development Group. “We are hoping for many more matches.”

The first mentor is Alex Kosik, a Russian-born tech investor based in Fairfax, Virginia.

He is to advise Skolkovo startup RealSpeaker, a company that produces voice-to-text audiovisual speech recognition software for computers.

RealSpeaker software can handle speech at 100 words a minute, well above most people's typing speed

“Alex has great professional experience, as well as a global view on the development of technology and a knack for entrepreneurship,” Osetrov added.“I believe that our collaboration has great potential,” said Viktor Osetrov, the CEO of RealSpeaker.

Kosik is the CEO of Quantum-Cure and visits Moscow five or six times a year, making him the ideal mentoring candidate. He already consults for several Skolkovo resident companies.

RealSpeaker is one of Skolkovo’s 1,000-plus residents and part of its IT Cluster.

The company is striving for a slice of an estimated $12 billion global market in voice recognition.

Alex Kosik

RealSpeaker combines the information received through a computer’s microphone and webcam – by analyzing lip movements - to produce accurate text without the speaker having to slow down.

Ekaterina Gaika, the deputy director for education and research at Skolkovo's IT Cluster, welcomed the matchup.

"I am very glad to see how four years down the road, Skolkovo is truly building new practices into Russia’s venture capital DNA," she said.

Skolkovo has other experts acting as de facto mentors for many of its resident companies, but this is the first match as part of the dedicated Mentors Program.

The program is open to all-comers; the application form to become a Mentor can be found on the website here