By Swann Bigot, legal expert and author – January 11, 2020


The Skolkovo innovation center, in the suburbs of Moscow, hosts thousands of students, scientists and entrepreneurs, motivated by tech research and innovation.

Russian Federation, 2019 – Photo credits : Swann B.

Yandex, the Russian digital technology giant, is becoming a partner of the Skolkovo Foundation and will open a campus on the territory of the Skolkovo Innovation Center, in the suburbs of Moscow, revealed an official press release.

The Skolkovo platform was launched in November 2009 to support and develop high technology, research and entrepreneurship in IT, biomedicine, transportation, artificial intelligence, nuclear and aerospace. It is often called “the Russian Silicon Valley”. Thousands of students and scientists are working in the several laboratories and research institutes located in futuristic buildings. If the Russian state was the first financial supporter of the project, private investors have started funding research and innovations of Skolkovo’s stakeholders, with the hope to sell the high-tech results in the market.

The Board of Directors of the Skolkovo Foundation made this decision during a meeting held on December 16. The Board agreed to provide Yandex with a 20 hectares land plot for the construction of the campus. This area will host data centers, laboratories, offices, the Yandex Corporate University, education institutions as well as other facilities. The construction of this campus is expected to take 10-15 years.

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Yandex would be ready to start working on the first phase of the campus in the coming months. The Russian technology giant will develop the general idea of the campus and will work on the terms and the procedure of the transfer of its units to the Skolkovo Innovation Center territory.

Arkady Dvorkovich, Chairman of Skolkovo and former Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, announced the plans for the coming years :

“The indicators have become significantly more ambitious than they were before, also in connection with the adoption of the law on extraterritoriality of Skolkovo and the ability to work with a large number of startups and partners throughout the country”.

By the end of 2022, the number of stakeholders in the project could be more than 3 thousand. An increase in members is expected precisely thanks to the new extraterritoriality regime. Indeed, a special law on the extraterritoriality regime of the Skolkovo Foundation was voted by the Russian State Duma in July 2019. This new legislation enables any Russian legal entity carrying out research and commercialization of its results to obtain the status of a Skolkovo member, regardless of its location in the Russian Federation. Regional innovation, scientific and technological centers are now able to provide Skolkovo support services to students, scientists and startups.

Arkady Dvorkovich added that a significant increase of the revenue of stakeholders of the Skolkovo project is expected. Good dynamics has been persisting for three years. In 2019, the total revenue of all entities would exceed 70 billion RUB (1 billion EUR).

Read also : French Orpea Group to build four clinics in Moscow

The influential businessman and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Skolkovo Foundation,  Viktor Vekselberg, informed the Board members that the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), the prestigious and wealthy Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Skolkovo Foundation signed in early December a five-year cooperation agreement. This agreement covers a third phase joint work, after that more than 60 joint research projects have been implemented during the second phase.

Among these common projects stands the RecyBot, an intelligent robotic system made to improve the recycling process efficiency of electronic devices, such as smartphones. Another project is the joint development program of Lithium Redox Flow Batteries, used to improve the grid resiliency and to facilitate the widespread deployment of renewable energy resources.

The first three years cooperation agreement between the Skolkovo Foundation and the MIT was signed in October 2011. The objective was to jointly develop Skoltech, as a world-class tech research university. The MIT professor and aerospace engineer Edward Crawley was a founding President of Skoltech from 2011 until 2016.

Viktor Vekselberg added that “The Skolkovo project continues to develop successfully ; this year was definitely successful in terms of launching iconic objects on the territory of the innovation city.”

This cooperation agreement covers the continuation of joint scientific, education and innovation activities with the involvement of professors, teachers, researchers, students and graduate students of Skoltech and MIT for the development of the previously achieved results in cutting-edge problems in science and engineering.

The MIT Professor Bruce Tidor, faculty lead of the MIT Skoltech Program, commented this successful cooperation : “Skoltech has developed rapidly and has recruited excellent faculty and outstanding students.

The rector of Skoltech, the well-known scientist and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Kuleshov, explained that the cooperation with the MIT is a major part of the Skolkovo institute’s long-term strategy.

This cooperation contributes to the achievement of our common goal – the upgrade of Skoltech to world-leading positions in science, education and innovation”, added the Russian scientist.

The opening of the Yandex Campus in Skolkovo will further expand the innovation capacities of this major technology cluster, as the Russian online research giant develops and tests delivery robots, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence solutions and automated communication tools.

Yandex presented its driverless cars during the annual Consumer Electronic Show held in Las Vegas. Journalists have tested the self-driving vehicles with Yandex engineers and shared their opinion on social networks. In January 2019 already, the Russian tech giant presented its innovative cars.

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© Copyright 2020 – Swann Bigot, legal expert and author