Amid heightened security alerts in airports, train stations and other public places across the world, Skolkovo startups working on security solutions for crowded places have travelled to France to demonstrate their technologies and search for potential partners.

A delegation of seven resident companies of the Skolkovo Foundation’s nuclear and IT clusters embarked on a three-day business mission to the French capital on November 23 together with representatives of the foundation itself. The startups presented their projects to representatives of Aeroports de Paris and SNCF, France’s national railway company, as well as the civil aviation authority and organisations supporting small and medium-sized enterprises working in the development of security systems for public places.

 Skolkovo companies working on cutting-edge security systems presented their products to French companies. Photo:

“We brought to Paris startups whose products have already elicited interest from [Moscow’s] Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo airports, Russian Railways and the Okhrana state security company,” said Igor Karavaev, head of Skolkovo’s nuclear and new industrial technologies cluster, adding that the problem of transport security is more pressing than ever before.

“During the foundation’s business mission, our startups’ innovative solutions for various new security check systems, site security and so on were presented,” he said.

“I hope that direct cooperation with Charles de Gaulle Airport and the French railways will allow us to export our residents’ innovative solutions and introduce them in France, and then other countries.”

On the first day of the mission, the Skolkovo delegation met representatives of CEEVO (Comité d'expansion économique du Val d'Oise), the economic development agency for Val d’Oise, a central French department in which Charles de Gaulle Airport is partially located. During the meeting at Charles de Gaulle Airport, the two sides resolved to sign a cooperation agreement to establish partner projects and foster contacts with companies in Val d’Oise and with members of the Security Systems Valley, a new cluster set up by CEEVO with state support that was also presented to Skolkovo representatives during the meeting.

Igor Gorshkov, head of APSTEK Labs, a resident of Skolkovo’s nuclear cluster whose technology makes it possible to scan people for explosives from a distance, said the business mission had allowed his company to identify partners in France and to initiate negotiations on testing and later introducing his company’s products on the French market.

A prototype of APSTEK’s technology has already been successfully tested at one of the stations of the Paris Metro. The company is now refining its product and continuing to test it and bring it into line with European Union standards. 

On the French side, the company representatives praised the level of the technology in the various projects demonstrated to them, and expressed interest in further negotiations on its use at their enterprises.

“The issue of ensuring security on transport and in public places is getting more pressing with every year, and this was confirmed by our French colleagues,” said Maxim Irishkin, a project manager with the nuclear cluster who also took part in the mission.

France has been rocked by a string of terrorist attacks in the past few years, including the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice that killed 86 people this year, a series of coordinated attacks in Paris last November in which 130 people were killed, and an attempted mass shooting on a train in August 2015 that was thwarted by fellow passengers. The country remains in a state of emergency.

“Companies have an interest in introducing the best and most effective technologies on the international market, and in these conditions, the technology and products made by Skolkovo residents attract serious interest due to their competitiveness,” said Irishkin.

“We hope that the contacts made during the business mission will lead to future fully-fledged cooperation and will help our residents to launch their products on the French market,” he added.