Government launches $200 million seed fund to create “nationwide industry of new online projects”
Earlier this week the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF, or FRII in Russian), a government-backed initiative, announced that it started receiving its first applications from individual entrepreneurs from all over Russia.
The fund, which has received no less than 6 billion rubles (approximately $200 million) to be invested in 400 projects over three years, targets individual entrepreneurs at the seed stage. The selected entrepreneurs will benefit from a first capital injection of $25,000 and an acceleration program with access to a pool of experts, as well as assistance to form a team.
The best projects will be eligible for subsequent rounds of funding of $250,000, $500,000, or more.
The IIDF plans to launch co-working programs and a business angel community later this year, as well as a crowdfunding platform in early 2014.
The new fund’s ambition is to “create a full-fledged, nationwide industry of new online projects” of “commercial or social value.” It will also launch “a variety of educational programs” and get involved in legistative work.
The idea came in late 2012 from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who believes Russia needs to nurture domestic Internet projects that “[display] high public value and address socially sensitive issues,” thus creating jobs for “the creative class” made up of resourceful young people.
The IIDF was established by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), a state-owned organization created in 2011 to support entrepreneurship and social programs. The Russian state will not participate directly in the fund’s activities.
Among other recent initiatives of the Russian government in this field are the decision to fund up to 50 IT R&D centers across the country and the revitalization of Rosinfocominvest, an investment vehicle created in 2008 but which had remained inactive so far.