Russian Energy Innovators Seek Angel Investors

By Bojan Soc, April 19, 2014

Russia’s drive to boost energy efficiency, kick-started four years ago by Dmitry Medvedev and backed up by a federal law, requires substantial investment to develop technology that would help maximize the country’s energy potential. While a modern science city is under construction in the town of Skolkovo outside Moscow, the foundation of the same name could already be labeled Russia’s main stage for promoting innovative ideas. Supporting innovation and breakthrough technology that targets reduction of energy consumption by industrial, utilities and municipal infrastructure facilities has been identified as one of the chief tasks of the Energy Efficient Technology Cluster (EETC) of the Skolkovo Foundation. How the cluster and its partners are going to pursue these goals OGE asked EETC’s chief operating officer Oleg Pertsovsky. 

Oil & Gas Eurasia : What does the Еnergy Еfficient Тechnology Cluster of the Skolkovo Foundation represent today?

Oleg Pertsovsky : It’s one of the five clusters of the foundation, it was set up in 2011. Our staff is compact numbering only 11 employees. Actually, it would make more sense to talk not so much about the cluster as a functional unit of the foundation, as about the energy efficiency segment within the foundation’s full scope of activities. This segment includes several elements, and the cluster’s key role is to coordinate their development and interaction.

OGE: Tell us a bit more about the structure of this segment.

Pertsovsky: Start-ups are the first element. Today, the cluster already includes 266 companies that are developing rapidly and employ a total of over 2,500 employees. In the past year alone, these businesses received more than 100 patents for their products and submitted over 200 applications for new patents.

Our key partners are the second element. As of today, we have signed agreements with 14 energy companies to set up R&D centers. These are very specific agreements that determine the areas of study, staff numbers, size of facilities, etc… Some of these companies will rent the facilities, which will be built by the Skolkovo Foundation, and others will build their own facilities on the land plots allocated for this very purpose.

The private venture funds, accredited by the Skolkovo Foundation, are the third element. Today, there are 70 domestic and foreign venture companies accredited by Skolkovo with soft investment obligations amounting to almost 25 billion rubles. So far, 15 of those venture funds have invested in the energy sector firms that have already been given the status of Skolkovo participants. 

It’s logical that venture capital traditionally makes an easier entry into other industry sectors, such as IT, that’s why 15 funds committing to invest in Skolkovo isn’t a bad result at all.

OGE: And then there is also the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, the popular Skoltech, once labeled by Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg “the heart of the ecosystem, of the innovative field of Skolkovo.” What role does it play?

Pertsovsky: That’s right, Skoltech is an additional element, standing apart to some extent. The