Russian Energy Innovators Seek Angel Investors

By Bojan Soc, April 19, 2014

We have reached an agreement with HTC to send their experts over to visit our StartUp Village event, which will take place in early June. We will provide them in advance with a long list of projects, then jointly select 15 of those and assign a personal HTC mentor to each, so they can help them enter international markets.

OGE: While the science city of Skolkovo is still being built, are the participants based locally?

Pertsovsky: Yes, construction is still under way, and only one building, the Hypercube, has been completed so far, so presently our participants are working mostly at their local facilities. However, according to a special federal law, all participants will have to move to Skolkovo by Jan. 1, 2016. The first office building with an area of over 20,000 square meters will be commissioned in the third quarter of this year, and then our companies will start moving in. Construction of the main building of the tech park will be completed in 2015. It will feature both office space and laboratory facilities for research. 

OGE: How many participants are already based in Skolkovo?

Pertsovsky: Between 20 and 30, including several representatives of our cluster. By the end of the year we expect that number to rise sharply. Many participants eye relocation, understanding the advantages of working side by side. Even now, despite being located in different places, the representatives of our start-ups get to know each other at Skolkovo events, for instance, and start communicating. When they all move, this interaction is going to intensify.

OGE: However, not all of Skolkovo participants eventually receive grants. What are your selection criteria and how many projects get rejected?

Pertsovsky: Presently, grant agreements have been signed with 42 of 266 participant companies. In other words, grants are provided to 15-20 percent of participants. Awarding the participant status is an automated process, and if external experts (there can be up to 10 of them) reply affirmatively to the questions regarding the competitiveness of the proposed product/technology in comparison to global counterparts, its commercialization prospects and the project team’s potential for achieving set goals, the company automatically passes the external expert evaluation, leaving only legal and technical issues to be settled.

When it comes to grants, the procedure is multi-staged. The applicant interacts with us first, and we pay more attention to commercial prospects of the project, try to figure out competitive environment, potential market, key consumers, and if we recognize the project’s potential, we forward it to external experts for evaluation. This one is much more detailed compared to expert evaluation for the participant status. Experts have to answer more questions, including those regarding the project budget. Upon its completion, the final decision is made by the Grant Committee, which includes representatives of Skolkovo’s top management, Russia’s academic elite, other development institutions and private venture funds.

OGE: How quickly are grants awarded?

Pertsovsky: If everything goes smoothly, and the applicant’s paperwork doesn’t