In Nizhny Novgorod, Russia and Belarus shake hands on joint business accelerator and techno-park | Volga, Technology & innovation

Volga | Technology & innovation

In Nizhny Novgorod, Russia and Belarus shake hands on joint business accelerator and techno-park

14 Mar '12
In a bid to step up innovation cooperation between Russia and neighboring Belarus, two government delegations met in Nizhny Novgorod today to agree on the establishment of a Russian-Belarusian Business Accelerator and further finalization of a prospective inter-state techno-park.

In an exclusive interview Marchmont talked about this with Andrei Shpilenko, president of the not-for-profit Sistema-Sarov Youth Innovation Center, CEO of Sarov Techno-park (Nizhny Novgorod region) and head of Russia’s Hi-tech Techno-park Association, who signed the agreements on behalf of the Russian side.

Last year a framework cooperation agreement was drafted with Belarus’ Ministry of Education, Mr. Shpilenko told Marchmont. The document would pave the way to realizing a joint youth innovation center program. However, lots of problems reportedly arose as the two sides progressed.

A Working Group was set up to analyze global best practices and address the difficulties. The Group visited the United States and watched similar programs in progress. With knowledge of overseas commercialization tools under their belts Working Group members developed their own tools tailored to how work can be done in Russia and Belarus.

“Today, all our proposals have been put together in what is now officially known as Concept of the Russian-Belarusian Business Accelerator,” Mr. Shpilenko told us as the Russian undersigned for the Concept. On behalf of the Belarusian delegation, the document was signed by Alexander Zhuk, First Deputy Minister of Education of the Republic of Belarus.

“This project aims exclusively at helping create small innovative businesses, nothing else. We have consciously shunned any political mottos and officialese,” Andrei Shpilenko said.

He said that the Council for Business Cooperation between the Nizhny Novgorod region and Belarus approved the Concept earlier today and endorsed its forwarding to the administration of the Union State of Russia and Belarus for further funding from Union coffers.

“It is great success for us. I understand that lots of further harmonization of approaches and language will be required; however, this is the first Russian-Belarusian accelerator of such scale to be set up on a networked basis,” Mr. Shpilenko said.

In addition, the Russian and Belarusian delegations also went into detail regarding techno-park development, he continued.

With much common ground identified divergences were also pinpointed, he said. “We had to admit that we speak different business languages, and have different views of what a techno-park is and how it operates and commercializes innovation projects.”

In spite of all that, lots of debate and initial controversy eventually resulted in a written MoU between Belarus’ State Committee for Science and Engineering and Russia’s Hi-tech Techno-park Association.

According to Mr. Shpilenko, the MoU calls for:

1)Preparation in the course of this year of a concept for a Russian-Belarusian techno-park with all best practices taken into account; the concept will be submitted to the Union State of Russia and Belarus as “an exemplary techno-park that factors in all our realities;”

2)Establishment of a Working Group to develop an inter-state program called Eurasian Innovation System. This important joint decision is expected to bring the two countries closer together and offer future techno-park residents useful infrastructure solutions;

3)Launch of special online ‘stores’ at the two sides’ media resources to showcase innovation projects from across Russia and Belarus.

“We have agreed on a broad spectrum of collaboration in techno-park development and support of residents in commercialization of their innovation projects,” Andrei Shpilenko concluded.