Innovation is a driving force behind Moscow’s economic development

Innovation is a driving force behind Moscow’s economic development
Photo: Photo by the Mayor and Moscow Government Press Service. Yevgeny Samarin
Moscow has placed first in the Eurasian Division of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP), with 18 local companies.

In the past few years, the city has established a comprehensive innovation infrastructure that has become a driving force of local economic development. Today, the city’s innovation infrastructure has about 1,500 facilities. Participants in a Moscow Government Presidium meeting discussed ways to support them.

“Many companies and organisations in the city, ranging from academic institutes to startups, and tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people, are involved in innovation. Sectoral institutes, private and state agencies, technology parks, science and industry centres, including aerospace, the nuclear-industry and medical centres, are involved in innovation,” Sergei Sobyanin said, noting that innovation is the main pillar of the city’s future economy.

This has been confirmed by the city’s improved national and international rankings. In late 2016, Moscow was ranked 43rd in a global rating of innovation cities by international rating agency 2Thinknow, rising from 192nd in 2011. The city also placed third in the national rating of investment climate in Russia’s regions.

The city has over 400 centres for the development of production technologies. “An entrepreneur can use high-tech products to implement business development plans,” said Alexei Fursin, Head of the City Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship.

The city’s innovation infrastructure now has about 1,500 facilities with over 3,500 pieces of modern high-tech equipment. These facilities include:

  • The Moskva Technopolis special economic zone;
  • 31 technology parks;
  • Digital Business Space, the upgraded Central House of Entrepreneur;
  • 76 co-working areas;
  • Five centres for the development of production technologies;
  • Two innovation territorial clusters in Zelenograd and Troitsk;
  • Technology parks for children (quantoriums);
  • Business service centres and other organisations.

Moskva Technopolis and technology parks are the most important infrastructure facilities for innovation companies. The number of technology parks has soared five-fold over the past four years, from six technology parks in 2014 to 31 this year. The number of companies that are technology park residents also increased almost four-fold (from 450 to 1,748), with the number of jobs increasing six and a half times (from 6,800 to 44,100). Technology park residents can lease affordable property and can use high-tech equipment and various services, including clean rooms and laboratories for experiments.

Experience exchanges with international partners are another aspect of innovation company development. International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) unites 374 technology parks all over the world and 142,000 resident companies.

Following its 33rd conference in Moscow, IASP established a Eurasian division, which includes 31 technology parks in Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Eighteen are located in Moscow. The Moscow Export Centre coordinates the project.

The city has 76 co-working areas, with 100 workstations each. Users lease properties, offices, business services, and others. All this shows that co-working areas are popular among new companies.

The city operates five production technology development centres that support small and medium-sized technology companies. Any entrepreneur can streamline the production process down to the smallest detail, study the properties of samples of manufactured goods, and certify new products. In all, 354 high-tech companies have used the services of these centres this year. Companies have received over 2,600 services related to production development, tests and the standardisation of goods.

The city is now developing two innovation territorial clusters. The first is located in Zelenograd and specialises in microelectronics and instrument engineering, with  190 participants and over 8,000 employees. The second cluster is in Troitsk and specialises in new materials, laser and radiation technologies; it has 58 participants and about 6,000 employees.

“Innovation-territorial clusters marry science, education, production and business,” Alexei Fursin noted.

In October 2017, Sergei Sobyanin opened the upgraded Central House of Entrepreneur, Digital Business Space. This multirole venue will serve as a portal for accessing Moscow's innovation infrastructure.

The city is granting subsidies for purchasing equipment for innovation companies worth up to 200 billion roubles, developing infrastructure worth up to 300 million roubles, and provides technology parks and their residents with tax incentives that have reduced taxes by up to 25 percent. The city also supports startups. The Moscow Foundation for Support of Industry and Entrepreneurship provides affordable loans for research and development and engineering projects (up to 50 million roubles with 5 percent interest rates for five years). The Venture Investment Promotion Foundation issues venture loans to startups (up to 30 million roubles). Young scientists receive bonuses and grants for expanding their projects (33 bonuses worth one million roubles each).

Innovative purchases

The city’s departments of construction, healthcare, information technology, transport, housing and utilities lead the way in terms of innovative purchases among executive agencies. Open Inquiries and Manufacturers’ Sessions are important tools for boosting demand for innovative goods.

Open Inquiries allow executive agencies to seek innovative solutions for topical utility infrastructure requirements. The city implements the best solutions. In turn, Manufacturers’ Sessions allow manufacturers of goods and technologies to show them to potential clients and to receive feedback.

Forty open inquiries have been made to date, with 859 companies suggesting 1,051 solutions. The city has organised 80 events for manufacturers of innovation goods, with 340 manufacturers presenting 444 promising goods or technologies.

The city has also developed the iMoscow online navigator for using the innovation infrastructure. This navigator helps entrepreneurs receive information and use various services. The website has an interactive map of infrastructure facilities. Its users can learn more about various services and opportunities in innovation business support, book facilities at technology parks and co-working spaces using their account, and learn the latest news from the innovation sector.

This approach towards developing the innovative ecosystem allows Moscow to attract talent, projects and high-tech investment.