The Skolkovo Foundation, which manages Russia’s largest state-sponsored innovation hub under construction outside Moscow, will receive another 135.6 billion ruble (about $4.1 billion) shot in the arm from government coffers between now and 2020.
The decision, which might signal the technopark’s return to political favor, was made last week at a Russian government meeting presided by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
In a separate statement, Skolkovo Foundation president Viktor Vekselberg said last Thursday that by 2020, Skolkovo “expects to raise 367 billion rubles (more than $11 billion) in private investment.” The Skolkovo program will not tap government finance “after 2025,” he added.
Vekselberg also forecast that as a private-public partnership “capable of paying for itself” by 2020 Skolkovo will contribute to Russia’s economy “213 billion rubles (about $6.5 billion) worth of products and services.” Seventeen years from now, when the Skolkovo program is expected to be running at full throttle, the Foundation president hopes the ‘innovation city’ will add “up to 1.5 trillion rubles (about $45 billion) to the national GDP.”
The news came just in time to dispel widespread rumors of an “imminent demise” of what some pejoratively call “Medvedev’s pet project.”
President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the indisputably number one policy maker in this country, seems to be more reserved about Skolkovo, which he is said to consider “artificial.”
Even though his chief of staff Sergey Ivanov stated in June that “Skolkovo is here to stay,” Putin countermanded mandatory allocations by government-owned corporations for Skolkovo’s university project, a decision Medvedev had made as president.
Skolkovo, now home to 941 resident companies including a few dozen foreign ones, has also been the subject of broad-based scrutiny over the past year, notably by the Russia’s Attorney General Office. A 2012 investigation by the Accounts Chamber also revealed several cases of questionable financial practices at the Foundation. As a result, some key figures came under fire and lost their jobs this past spring.