The only branch of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Europe and the former Soviet Union began operating out of the Skolkovo Innovation Centre this month.

WIPO, a United Nations agency tasked with promoting the protection of intellectual property throughout the world and administering property registration systems such as patents and trademarks, opened a representative office in Moscow in 2014 that has now moved to Skolkovo. The agency, which is headquartered in Geneva and has four other branches around the world in Rio de Janeiro, Beijing, Tokyo and Singapore, oversees cooperation between the national patenting organisations of individual countries to issue international patents.

Igor Drozdov, senior vice president of Skolkovo for legal and administrative affairs, said the move of the WIPO office to Skolkovo underlined the foundation’s role as a leading innovation centre.

“True innovation activity is impossible without the protection of intellectual property,” said Drozdov, who initially proposed the office’s move.

Igor Drozdov, who first proposed the office's move to Skolkovo.

 “It was first decided to open the office in the building of Rospatent [Russia’s government agency responsible for intellectual property], and we raised the question of it operating out of the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, where the majority of innovation activity is concentrated,” said Drozdov. “After working for just over a year in the Rospatent building, from January 1 the WIPO office in Russia has been operating here in Skolkovo,” he said.

Drozdov admitted that the idea initially met with some scepticism. “But then when our colleagues from WIPO evaluated the high level of patent activity of our companies and the rate of growth in the number of patent applications filed, and when they saw the speed of construction at the Innovation Centre and how swiftly the project is developing, when they came to some of our events such as the Patent School and Startup Village conference – the biggest in the region – they became convinced of our ability to attract their target audience to Skolkovo and began to see the move as possible,” he said.

More than 10 percent of all international patent applications from Russia originate from Skolkovo.

Francis Gurry, director-general of WIPO, welcomed the move last autumn during an online conference with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who launched the Skolkovo Foundation in 2010 during his tenure as president of Russia.

“It was a very important decision for us,” said Gurry. “Intellectual property is becoming a technical product that is an integral component of the innovations ecosystem. So it’s really important for us to be present at Skolkovo.”

Medvedev also applauded the move during the conference and said he hoped the office would help the regulation of intellectual property and “create a better situation for protecting intellectual property in Russia, both for items created in Russia and for those made in other countries.”

The WIPO branch office will not provide patenting services, focusing instead on consulting and educational activities. Skolkovo has its own Intellectual Property Centre that specialises in providing patenting and legal services for startups and innovation companies.

In the Bloomberg Innovation Index of the world’s most innovative economies released this week, Russia was ranked 15th in terms of patent activity, measured as resident patent filings per million population and per $100 billion GDP, and also as patent grants as a share of the world total. Overall, Russia ranked 12th in the rating.