Why become a Skolkovo resident? Anastasia Tatulova, the newly appointed ombudsman for Russia’s small- and medium-sized business sector recently visited Skolkovo Innovation Center to find out about what solutions Skolkovo startups are offering in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic and what benefits resident status offers.

To foreign businesses, entering the Russian market may seem a daunting task. However, the purpose of Skolkovo, specifically the Skolkovo Foundation, is to act as a platform for new companies working on innovative technologies and that are seeking assistance in market entry. The benefits of becoming a Skolkovo resident company are manifold and include tax incentives, customs support, intellectual property services, financial support, regulatory support, access to local expertise, access to the Skolkovo infrastructure, and so on. Aside from those incentives, Skolkovo resident status also offers opportunities to meet high-ranking members of the business community.

The CEO of Skolkovo company Yaclass, Andrey Ilingin, talks to Anastasia Tatulova about how his service has helped with the transfer to distance learning during the pandemic. Photo: Sk.ru

Aiming to find out more about the Skolkovo ecosystem, Anastasia Tatulova, the new ombudsman of Russia’s small- and medium-sized business sector and founder of the famed “Anderson” coffee chain, which has 53 outlets dotted throughout Russia, met with eight Skolkovo resident companies on Monday. The session took place at the Skolkovo technopark and was hosted by the chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich and the senior vice-president of innovations Kirill Kaem.

Arkady Dvorkovich opened the session with welcoming words: “On behalf of all our residents, I would like to welcome Anastasia Tatulova to Skolkovo and to thank her for the results that she succeeded in reaching in her post as ombudsman in the sector for small- and medium-sized businesses. That job will undoubtedly facilitate the development of a more business-friendly climate in Russia, which in its turn is a sign of a successful economy. Today we showed Anastasia our innovation center, our capabilities, our developments, and we also spoke about those relevant issues with which our Skolkovo residents are confronting in their day-to-day business and in which her help would be invaluable.”

Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich conversing with the ombudsman at the Skolkovo Innovation Center Technopark. Photo: Sk.ru

The startups came from all four Skolkovo Foundation tech clusters (the IT cluster, the energy efficiency cluster, the industrial cluster, and the biomedicine cluster) and presented solutions tackling urgent problems in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. These included contactless farming technologies, robot chefs, digital solutions for retail, a cybersecurity solution for document digitalization, a contactless digital pricing system for retailers, and an air purification system designed to remove pathogens.

Left to right: Denis Kalemberg of Safe Tech discusses the challenges involved in implementing electronic signatures in Russia. Victor Nikitin of City Farmer and Stanislav Kozlov of Tion. Photo: Sk.ru

The solutions varied greatly but ultimately facilitate social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19. For example, Tion company’s air purification system, which removes pathogens from the air, is applicable across many different sectors, including healthcare clinics, public venues, cafes, restaurants, and so on. Safe Tech company’s solution protects digitalized documents through remote identification and a mobile signature, allowing companies and state bodies to continue conducting administrative practices remotely and securely. City Farmer company grows mushrooms and vegetables remotely using AI, thus also reducing person-to-person contact.

Senior vice-president of innovations Kirill Kaem with Anastasia Tatulova. Photo: Sk.ru

As an entrepreneur herself, Ms. Tatulova is well acquainted with the challenges small and medium businesses can encounter and regarded Skolkovo as an enabler as well as a model for the rest of Russia.

Director of Skolkovo Technopark Renat Batyrov showing the ombudsman an interactive map of the innovation center. Photo: Sk.ru

At the end of the session, Ms. Tatulova shared her impressions with Sk.ru: “The most important for me was that in having an innovation platform like Skolkovo, you can test certain things that the State for now declines to implement on a federal level. An example is the creation of the International Medicine Cluster on Skolkovo's territory, which has its own norms and rules in that foreign clinics, whose established standards differ from their Russian counterparts, work there. Perhaps it’s worth trying to do this in other industries. That is to say that it seems that we need to use the Skolkovo platform not just for what developing startups but also for changing regulation. As a matter of fact, I hope that we will now start doing that quicker and better.”