Startup Tour 2021 kicked off on March 17 in the city of Tver. It is taking place online for the first time, and over the course of six weeks, the tour will move through Tver, Ufa, Samara, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Tomsk, and Murmansk. Over 80,000 people are participating, including entrepreneurs, innovators, students, municipal bodies, and universities.

Startup Tour creator Pekka Viljakainen (top left), Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich (top right), CEO of Skolkovo Forum Ekaterina Inozemtseva (bottom left), CEO of the Tver Venture Fund Mikhail Okorokov (bottom right). Screengrab:

Ekaterina Inozemtseva, the CEO of Skolkovo Forum, moderated the official opening session to Startup Tour 2021 and welcomed the speakers.

This digital road show aims to find new hi-tech, innovative startups through a competition it runs in each city. Over sixty applicants from the Tver region signed up to take part, and experts selected fifteen of the best to compete for the 300,000-ruble prize (€3,300). Yet it’s not all about the cash prize; they can also enter development institute and partner acceleration programs. As well as that, the startup participants have a platform on which to exchange ideas and learn form tech experts, coaches, representatives from development institutes, and industrial companies.

“I am glad that Tver region is conducting innovations and that the region's venture fund is involved," said Arkady Dvorkovich, the chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation. "Only six Skolkovo residents are from Tver, but I’m sure that the competition today will help increase that number. We are ready to collaborate and offer our support and, in collaboration with VEB.RF, we won't just run pilot projects but will turn solutions into ones that are ready for the market.”

The Startup Tour creator and Finnish businessman Pekka Viljakainen gave a recent interview to where he shared his views and personal experiences in running the event and how he values the businesses in the Russian regions.

“Right now, we cannot travel freely," said Mr. Viljakainen, "but the idea of the Startup Tour is to have personal contact. Our main audience is every grandmother in each city that we visit, because hardly any parents or grandparents would ever recommend that you become an entrepreneur. This is because people think that running a business is hard, and they are right, but the advantage is that you have the freedom to think. An element we should note is that while large companies are automating and no longer employing many people or creating new jobs, SMEs are. Most jobs these days are coming into being within the framework of a knowledge economy. This is the case around the world.”

Mr. Viljakainen also highlighted that a mistake people often make is that they expect immediate results when going down the entrepreneurship route. Entrepreneurship does not usually generate results today or tomorrow; it is a long, meandering journey that takes years in many cases. “I did not see profit for the first several years in my business,” said Mr. Viljakainen. “This is not a sprint, it is a marathon, and that is why Skolkovo and the Startup Tour were created. This is not just our task, but the task of young entrepreneurs to implement innovative solutions and contribute to the ecosystem in your region and then the country.”

The next Startup Tour date is March 22 in Ufa. For more information, visit the Startup Tour website: