Russian Energy Innovators Seek Angel Investors

By Bojan Soc, April 19, 2014

will undoubtedly help the company establish itself in the domestic market. 

OGE: Last December, you held the finals of Skolkovo’s contest featuring innovative projects for the energy sector. Are you satisfied with the results?

Pertsovsky: Holding these contests is a very important contributor toward creating our ecosystem, since the concept was to discuss the needs of major companies directly with them. In other words, we began not by looking at what start-ups could offer to the market, but by looking at various issues that majors couldn’t resolve. We jointly formulated the tasks and challenged our innovators to solve them. It was our first experience, we succeeded in certain areas and failed in others. Of course, we’d like to see more projects; perhaps, we narrowed the topics too much in some areas, however, we received several dozen applications, picked 13 finalists and five eventually claimed victory. It’s important that Skolkovo employees didn’t sit on the jury, the representatives of major companies did, the same businesses that specified the tasks. This year, we plan to hold the contest again, we will make certain corrections to attract as many companies as possible, and it isn’t necessary that somebody comes and puts a finished product on the table. It’s much more important to find the teams that are able to create such a product.

OGE: Could you mention at least a couple of tasks the competitors had to cope with? 

Pertsovsky: One of the widest topics is the technology for processing associated gas. Presently, significant amounts of it are flared, though there are various options for its utilization that involve gas chemicals, liquefaction, power generation… Among narrower topics we can mention, for example, downhole reactive power compensators, and anti-turbulent agents. Though the last topic is rather narrow, we managed to find two interesting relevant projects. Ultimately, one designing company became our participant, and another one is about to acquire that status. 

OGE: Were developers of oil and gas technology among the winners?

Pertsovsky: One of the winning projects dealt with composite plastic pipes for the water supply system, which could be also used in the oil and gas sector. They are rather strong, resistant to corrosion and serve longer than steel pipes.

OGE: Last year, the reputation of the entire Skolkovo project was dealt a serious blow when details of a corruption scandal emerged. How did this affect day-to-day operations of your cluster? Did your partners, including foreign companies, change their attitude toward the project?

Pertsovsky: Since the Skolkovo Foundation is still in the development stage and it’s financed by the government, it’s normal that we’re being audited, there’s nothing extraordinary about it. In regard to those issues that had been raised, you know that eventually all of them were resolved, and this is very important for us. Moreover, I’m not aware of any cases of investors abandoning the projects because of the audits. Regarding day-to-day operations of the cluster, I can’t say that we felt