Skolkovo resident startup GeoSteering Technologies, the maker of “smart drilling” software for use at oil and gas production facilities, signed an agreement with the government of the Tyumen region at the Sochi 2017 Russian Investment Forum this week.

Under the agreement, GeoSteering Technologies will open an office in the region and share its technology, which makes oil and gas production faster, safer and more efficient, with drilling companies operating in the Tyumen region. The resources-rich Siberian region is following a policy of attracting leading domestic oil and gas technology developers with export potential to the region with the aim of becoming Russia’s centre of innovation in oil and gas production.

Skoltech signed an agreement with the New Economic School and Skolkovo School of Management at the forum. L-R: Skoltech's Alexander Kuleshov, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, NES rector Shlomo Weber and Skolkovo School of Management rector Andrei Sharonov. Photo: Skoltech.

“By attracting strong players on the oil and gas technology market, we expect not only to increase the region’s overall level of expertise and skills in this area, but also to have a significant influence on the development of Russian technologies that in the future will enable Russia to become a valued exporter of innovative solutions for the global oil and gas sector,” said Vladimir Yakushev, governor of the Tyumen region.

Sergei Stishenko, founder and director of GeoSteering Technologies, said that the initiatives being undertaken by the Tyumen regional government made it an attractive place for companies making hi-tech products for the energy industry.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to join other innovative projects and to put our expertise and experience to good use for the development of the Russian oil and gas industry,” he said.

Geosteering Technologies, a resident startup of Skolkovo’s energy cluster, makes software for designing and managing the development of hydrocarbon deposits, as well as training software devoted to horizontal drilling. It also provides consulting services. The company’s clients already include energy giants such as Rosneft, Gazprom Neft-NTC and Bashneft.

The startup was not the only Skolkovo-affiliated organization to sign an agreement at the Russian Investment Forum, which took place in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 27-28.

The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) signed an agreement at the forum with the Skolkovo School of Management (a separate legal entity to Skoltech and the Skolkovo Foundation) and the New Economic School. Under the agreement, the three educational institutes, which are all located in and around the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo, will set up a joint education centre.

The centre will oversee academic cooperation between the institutes, as well as joint programmes and research.

Skolkovo chairman of the board Igor Drozdov said at the forum that the foundation's grant budget for 2017 is 1 billion rubles. Photo:

“In my view, Russia is today starved of professional, well-educated specialists who also have a good understanding of business processes – and not just in Russia, but around the world,” said Skoltech’s president, Alexander Kuleshov.

“There’s no doubt that a talented physicist, engineer or biologist can study management and economics to the extent required to lead a group of similar people and dream of future major companies in their area of expertise. (As the saying goes, ‘it’s not quantum physics – I’ll learn it if I need to.’) But the problem is that this system of “let’s get started, and we’ll work it out as we go along” often leads to the death of brilliant ideas, to human failure, to losses for investors and, as a consequence, to weak and unstable technological development in our country. The conclusion, therefore, is that we need to work together!”

It is planned that the Skolkovo education centre will make broad use of e-learning and distance learning technology. Programmes will be taught by leading professors, both from Russia and abroad.

Elsewhere on the sidelines of the forum, Skolkovo Foundation President Victor Vekselberg met with Chelyabinsk Region Governor Boris Dubrovsky to discuss setting up a regional branch of Skolkovo in the southern Urals. The discussion followed a recent visit by Dubrovsky to Skolkovo, together with Chelyabinsk region representatives of industry, where the two sides signed a cooperation agreement.

The Skolkovo Foundation will issue grants to tech startups this year worth a total of up to one billion rubles ($17 million), the foundation’s chairman of the board, Igor Drozdov, said at the forum.

Drozdov, who announced the grant budget during a discussion at the forum devoted to cooperation between Russia’s development institutes, pointed out that financing for research and development is only one of the support mechanisms the foundation provides to tech entrepreneurs.

“Maybe there is this illusion that the foundation is an organisation created to issue grants, but that’s not the case,” Drozdov told the forum.

“Grant support is one of about 20 services that Skolkovo offers companies,” he said, citing help for the companies in exporting their products, protecting their intellectual property rights, getting their products certified for the market and the chance to take part in corporate accelerator programmes.

“The foundation provides companies will a full range of services necessary for turning technology into business,” said Drozdov.