The Moscow Innovation Cluster is Shaping its Future Image
The Moscow Innovation Cluster Fund, in effect the cluster’s organisational core, will be established in a matter of weeks. This was reported by Kristina Volkonitskaya, Deputy Director of the Moscow City Department of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Development, at the expert panel 'Moscow Innovation Cluster: Prospective S&T Development Areas' which took place on 24 April at the Higher School of Economics. The participants discussed the support the Fund should be providing, and joint pilot projects in areas such as ICT, medicine, biotechnology, advanced production technologies, and new materials.
Watch a video of the meeting (in Russian)
The decision to establish the Fund was made by the Moscow City Government (Regulation of 25 April). The same regulation approved the statute for the Fund’s Supervisory Board, appointed its members, and specified terms and conditions for participation in the cluster. Exclusively electronic document circulation should become an important innovation in the Fund’s work with cluster members, on the basis of the cluster’s information system. Applications to receive support for joint projects are also expected to be filed online. The first projects may be selected as early as in 2019, so prospective applicants should decide about the nature and the scale of their pilot initiatives.
How to Become a Member
The Moscow City Government adheres to the 'no barriers' principle, keeping the requirements to new members at the minimum. OKVED-related limitations for potential members were discarded: now companies operating in any sector may apply, which would make launching joint projects easier. At the same time, in line with the Federal Law 'On science, and national S&T policy' No. 127-FZ (which provides the legal foundation for the cluster’s Fund), innovation activity areas were determined, outlining the scope for supporting cluster members’ projects.
In particular, Moscow city authorities identified the following prospective areas: information and communication technologies; advanced production technologies and robotics; new materials and nanotechnology; medicine and pharmaceutics; biotechnology; environment protection technologies; prospective construction technologies; electricity and heat supply and usage technologies; prospective transport systems; and financial technologies. The pool of solutions to support the capital’s innovation-based development, increase competitiveness, and promote Moscow entrepreneurs’ products on international markets is expected to focus on the above areas. They were identified on the basis of big data analysis, bibliometric and econometric analytical studies, foresight projects and expert sessions conducted by the Higher School of Economics to prepare the cluster development concept.
Now the objective is to forge cooperation projects in these areas, and identify partners to implement them.
Experts from VEB, RVC, the Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE), the Industrial Development Fund, the Innovation and R&D Directors Club, and the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) shared their experience in supporting high-tech projects implemented by various Moscow organisations in the course of the meeting (see the programme and the full list of participants). Prospective measures to support cluster members were discussed with federal authorities, development institutes, and business community in March at the venue provided by the Digital Business Space.
New Landmarks and Agreements
In the course of the expert session 'Moscow Innovation Cluster: prospective S&T development areas' major landmarks for the cluster’s future activities were mapped.
Synchronising IT platforms: the meeting participants noted the importance of joining forces to synchronise the functionality of the Moscow cluster’s portal (scheduled to go online in May) with platform solutions provided by the Industrial Development Fund, VEB, and other development institutes. One of the priorities is to design an integrated 'support navigator' to help potential beneficiaries choose support measures and mechanisms best-suited for them. Businesses shouldn’t be struggling to find the right 'navigational aid'. Another potential functionality for the cluster’s IT platform is standardising information technologies on the level of protocols, and data transfer between various state information systems.
A priority KPI is the number of implemented projects. They create jobs, and pay back the public money in the form of taxes. Despite the importance of platform solutions for advancing the cluster’s communication component, it shouldn’t become just a communications venue.
Attracting major players: the cluster’s competitive environment is expected to promote project flow, along with clear and transparent support mechanisms. However, end-user demand for innovation by major Russian and international companies would provide the most powerful driver for project initiatives. Inducing leading Russian companies (including companies with public participation) to join the cluster should be seen as a priority. Most of them have head offices and R&D divisions in Moscow. Many companies inspired by the open innovation approach are creating their own ecosystems — setting up corporate accelerators, venture funds, providing incentives for inventors and innovators. By establishing an open innovation centre in the city the cluster could offer a common interface to facilitate interaction between Moscow corporations and innovative companies. A related proposal voiced at the strategic session was setting up a technology transfer centre in the city, to bring together the competencies of Moscow universities and R&D organisations.
Gloсal ambitions: value chains are rarely confined within Moscow city limits. Focusing on activities which make use of the capital city’s competitive advantages and available competences is more important than attracting investments from all possible sources. Tools such as the cluster’s IT platform, live labs (facilities for testing innovative solutions), the city’s open innovation centre etc. can be applied to extend cooperation with companies in other Russian regions, and even international ones.
High technologies in a creative environment: the city’s policy shouldn’t be limited to the industrial sector. Designing the support system, it’s important to keep in mind that these days most of the value added is created not by production as such, but by related activities such as engineering, product design, etc. Not just business opportunities for technological companies but related creative potential is also worthy of careful consideration. Companies implementing new business models should be supported too, along with those who adjust existing knowledge bases and production facilities to advance new industries. The latter may also emerge due to organisational, marketing, user, social, and service innovations.
Regulatory sandboxes: the session participants agreed that legal regulation was a problem area affecting all technology domains. Setting up, with the city government’s support, special jurisdictions to test various approaches ('regulatory sandboxes') was another objective for the cluster management. It could be addressed straight away, using the opportunities made available to newly created innovative S&T centres (ISTCs). ISTCs comprise leading universities and R&D organisations. Currently there are up to 20 potential applicants for this status in Moscow.
See also (in Russian):
Ichak Adizes’s column 'Dismantling the vertical: how to make Russia an innovative country' (Forbes.ru, 29.04.2019)