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Innovation, by Order of the Kremlin

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Russian technology entrepreneur Yevgeny Kaspersky

Yevgeny Kaspersky, a technology entrepreneur, is skeptical of Russia's plan to build a Silicon Valley-style hub.

Credit: James Hill / The New York Times

The Russian government is using Silicon Valley as a template for a new scientific city in order to cultivate a U.S.-like spirit of entrepreneurship through the commercialization of work performed at university laboratories. "The founding of the innovation city, in form and substance, could be a launching pad for the country as a whole," says project co-director Viktor F. Vekselberg. The site, once developed, is designed to nurture scientific concepts using generous tax holidays and government grants until the startups achieve profitability.

The city is intended to promote five scientific priorities outlined by President Dmitri A. Medvedev—communications, biomedicine, space, nuclear power, and energy conservation—and to spur cross-disciplinary fertilization. Property will be rented rather than owned, and the government will offer grants for scientists who have difficulty securing private financing.

Vladislav Surkov, the deputy director of the Russian presidential administration, says the new site will insulate new businesses from the bureaucracy that currently stifles Russia's economy. The city will be constructed and operated by a government-funded foundation, while a scientific council will determine which companies can locate at the site.

From The New York Times
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