Skolkovo Ready to Expand Collaboration with German Companies

The start of a new business season at Skolkovo was marked by two noteworthy visits by European ministers. First, Skoltech welcomed Irish Minister of Innovation John Halligan. Shortly after, the institute was visited by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

According to Arkady Dvorkovich, chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, the visit helped the German delegation better understand the potential for collaboration with Skolkovo. The foundation is eager to provide German companies of all sizes with equal opportunities for business development and entrance to the Russian market.

“We've started collaboration in the research field, this applies to specific scientific projects, student and scientist exchanges, but much more can be done,” said Dvorkovich. “The second part is the attraction of German companies to Skolkovo. Their entry into the Russian market is welcome. And Skolkovo can provide appropriate services to German companies, just as we do for Russian companies.”

The third area of collaboration, he said, is the training of German colleagues in the areas where Russia demonstrates better performance, such as space and nuclear technology. On the other hand, “where our performance is weaker, we must learn from them, this is also normal, and such training programs will appear,” added Dvorkovich.

“Obviously, sanctions slow down the development both for our foreign partners and for us, but they do not restrict most of our activities. We evidence that leading German companies work in Russia, work with Skolkovo. Those are Siemens, Volkswagen, Metro and many more, they continue operations and expand cooperation both with Skolkovo and with Russia overall. Separate issues arise with payments and maybe somewhere else, but those are not major problems for cooperation expansion.”

The meeting with the German delegation was of a strictly business nature. The press, including German journalists accompanying Heiko Maas, was admitted only to the official photo opp, and negotiations were held behind closed doors.

The German minister was keen on learning how the Skolkovo and Skoltech ecosystem is structured, and what opportunities it provides for collaboration between the two countries.

Speaking at the meeting, Skoltech Vice President Alexander Safonov focused on the school's guiding principles for selecting its international staff and gave the floor to his colleague, director of the Skoltech Center for Photonics and Quantum Technologies, Franco Kuppers. According to the latter, Skoltech is characterized by “a unique atmosphere, unique equipment and unique opportunities for interacting with the industry”. Skoltech stands out among other Russian universities in that it is trying to combine research, education and innovation in collaboration with the industry.

At the meeting, representatives of the German delegation suggested that Russian startups should participate in innovative events in Germany and expressed their willingness to assist with securing invitations, and in their turn asked to help German startups enter the Russian market. The delegation was invited to participate in the Open Innovations Forum at Skolkovo in October.

The visit wrapped up with Minister Maas meeting Skoltech students, who talked about their projects, scientific developments and research.

“Germany has been one of Skolkovo’s main partner countries since its inception,” said Maxim Romanov, head of the International Cooperation Department of the Skolkovo Foundation. “The interaction is carried out both on the business and research levels. A recent example is a partnership agreement with the German company Phoenix Contact, according to which the company will build its R&D center on the territory of Skolkovo.”

Skolkovo's institutional partners include the German Chamber of Commerce Abroad, German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, German House of Research and Innovation, Germany Trade and Invest, and representative offices of German states. Skolkovo startups regularly participate in Start.Up! Germany events and meet with German corporations. The Skolkovo Foundation is one of the co-founders of the German-Russian Initiative on Digitalization (GRID).

“We have a fairly large potential for collaboration with German small and medium enterprises. In particular, our German colleagues became interested in our Softlanding in Skolkovo program, and we hope that soon more talented entrepreneurs who speak the languages of Goethe and Schiller will join the Skolkovo ecosystem,” said Maxim Romanov.


23 august 2019