Russian President Vladimir Putin named two key figures at the Skolkovo Foundation among the foreign recipients of friendship awards on Wednesday.

Pekka Viljakainen, a Finnish advisor to Skolkovo president Viktor Vekselberg, and Edward Crawley, the American founding president of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), are to get awards for their contribution to the development of economic trade and investment cooperation between Russia and foreign countries, as well their fruitful activities in science and education, according to a presidential decree issued published Wednesday on the government website.

Finnish entrepreneur Pekka Viljakainen pictured last week at the Startup Village at Skolkovo. Photo:

"Making new businesses is all about people, trust and co-operation,” Viljakainen told “That is why this important recognition is not only for me, but for all great people in Skolkovo, the Russian regions and partners around the world."

Viljakainen, nicknamed the Bulldozer for his indefatigable efforts to create a culture of entrepreneurship in Russia, is the driving force behind the Startup Tour, a yearly competition to find promising tech startups that is held in cities across Russia. The Finn has personally visited 70 Russian cities in the last few years with the Startup Tour, which culminates in the Startup Village event at Skolkovo. This year’s event, which was held last week, attracted about 20,000 people.

U.S. Professor Edward Crawley pictured at Skoltech. Photo:

Crawley, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was key to the 2011 creation of Skoltech, a graduate research university attached to the Skolkovo Foundation.

“Of course this is a tremendous honor, but I would say that the honor should really be shared with all of those who have participated in developing Skolkovo and Skoltech, with the professors, the staff and even the students. This a tremendous accomplishment, that all have participated in, to build this new university and the network in Russia,” said Crawley, who officially handed over his duties as Skoltech president in February to his Russian successor, Alexander Kuleshov, but is expected to remain closely involved with Skoltech through its continuing cooperation with MIT.

“I think that such awards are always given for lifetime accomplishments and this one is particularly gratifying, because since the age of 15 I have had the intention to try and bring together the Russian and American efforts in science, and in space in particular,” he said. “This is a great recognition of my work there.”