President Vladimir Putin today celebrated the start of Open Innovations 2020 in conjunction with the 10-year anniversary of the Skolkovo Foundation's existence. The president also wished guests of the three-day Open Innovations Forum a “constructive and meaningful discussion” and the Skolkovo leadership and residents “luck and new accomplishments.” 

The Open Innovations 2020 Forum kicked off with a panel talk comprised of the Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Board of Directors Viktor Vekselberg, Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich, the South Korean Ambassador to Russia Sok Bae Lee, and Government of the Russian Federation Vice-Chairman Dmitry Chernyshenko. Alexander Chernov, the Senior Vice-President for PR & Marketing of the Skolkovo Foundation, moderated the talk.

Mr. Chernov emphasized that Open Innovations 2020 is focusing on how the current scenario with Covid-19 is driving development in communications and digitalization, how businesses, governments and innovators have reacted to it, and what solutions are already on the table as a response to the pandemic.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, Deputy-Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation. Screenshot:

Vice-Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Chernyshenko began by highlighting key efforts the Russian government has made and is making in order to encourage the growth and development of the IT and communications sector. He also touched upon five key points of national development put forward in a signed decree by President Putin that are to be achieved by 2030. First among these is to bring about a digital transformation in Russia, which is a top priority for the country and the State, the goal being to build a digital economy. Part of this support includes a drastic income tax cut for IT (down to 3%), offering companies a tax incentive to work in the IT sector.

The Republic of Korea is the country partner of Open Innovations 2020. Mr. Chernyshenko stated, “One of the main agendas for today is the cooperation between Russia and Korea. As you know, South Korea is a well-known leader in innovations, so the transfer of technologies, bilateral cooperation, and joint-projects is what we consider to be very important.”

South Korea’s Ambassador to Russia, Sok Bae Lee, thanked the organizers of Open Innovations for inviting him to speak, talking about what factors in digitalization could change society and what cooperation between Russia and South Korea could bring to both countries.

Sok Bae Lee, South Korea Ambassador to the Russian Federation. Screenshot:

“Open Innovations 2020 is a very special forum for South Korea and for Russia, and today we are celebrating the anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between our countries. That is why this year we have been invited as a partner country to this forum. We are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of our relations, which is why we have come up with the slogan 'to trust one another, to cooperate, and to be friends.' We are tapping into our potential through all the years of good work that we have been doing together, and today we are setting new trends and outlining what kind of future we will be living in.”

This year doesn’t just mark the 30-year anniversary of Russia-South Korea relations, however; it is also the 10-year anniversary of the establishment of the Skolkovo Foundation to which South Korea became a partner in its very early days.

Ambassador Sok emphasized that good relations and cooperation between South Korea and Russia is a “good driver of growth” for both sides. Indeed, the relationship between the two countries has led to the opening of joint innovation centers as well as the signing of a joint-declaration for further cooperation. Ambassador Sok also talked about South Korea’s “Nine Bridges 2.0” program, which outlines new areas for growth and development. “Thanks to that, we have lain the foundation for very thorough cooperation between our countries in areas such as Open Innovations, artificial intelligence, and others,” he said. “I am certain that the partnership between Skolkovo Innovation Center and the Republic of Korea will became a driver of growth in the innovative future of both countries.”

Viktor Vekselberg, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Skolkovo Foundation. Screenshot:

In support of Ambassador Sok’s words, Viktor Vekselberg stated that, “Relations with the Republic of Korea are important because that country became an active partner to the Foundation during its early days over ten years ago.”

Mr. Vekselberg went on to say that, “We are confronted with changes, tectonic shifts, and we are heading into for a new world. A post-pandemic world will be a new place where there will be new rules of social behavior. Technological solutions will be different to those that we have today, and I am sure that we will change our approach to healthcare from ground level to the very top – we have reevaluated the value of human health and human life. We will be living in a world of digital transformation and digital technologies will be part of our everyday life.”

Arkady Dvorkovich, Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation. Screenshot:

The Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich stated during his speech that, “This year we will know as one of the most difficult years for us. This generation has not seen anything as bad as this, but we will cope and adapt to it, and I think we are ready to face this new world.” Mr. Dvorkovich also said that post-covid society will be faster paced and will require people to work quickly and to be more adaptable and flexible. “We need to meet the requirements of this new world already today,” said the chairman. “We need to come up with approaches to live in a better world and to be better ourselves, so much depends on us on how we can learn and adapt. We should try to couple together traditional values and the innovative approaches which we are working on today.”

With the intensification of the Covid-19 pandemic early this year, Mr. Vekselberg was quick to point out that the post-covid world will be different in terms of digitization as well as societal and work norms. That much has become increasingly obvious in more recent months, though exactly what kind of a world we will live in still remains to be seen. The OECD website plays host to a famous quote by Winston Churchill: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” Innovative companies across the world, Skolkovo residents included, are heeding this advice, whether knowingly or unknowingly, and are driving the transformation into a digital society; the Covid-19 crisis will likely be seen by future historians as a turning point – a bridge from one era leading into a new one.