Siberia | Technology & innovation

Rusnano responds to critics with new Nanofab plan

28 May '09
Olga Konovalova, news editor

Last week Marchmont wrote about Rusnano’s plans to set up a chain of 20 to 30 high-tech innovative ''nanofab-centers'' in Russia, at a price tag of $60-$90m each (see news of May 22). But some RF officials weren't impressed. They complain that Rusnano, a state-controlled agency with a $4bn warchest, has only funded a handful of projects and is dragging its feet.

What is Nanofab?

Rusnano head Anatoly Chubais explained to journalists, that “the main purpose of the new nanofab centers will be to provide small and medium businesses with well-equipped facilities and hi-tech machinery, which they couldn’t otherwise afford.”

Nanofab-centers will have necessary infrastructure for successful operations of firms, working in innovation sector, he added.

Each nanofab-center is to consist of two components – material assets, such as real estate facilities, equipment and technologies transfer center, and financial institutions, including venture funds, Mr. Chubais said.

The centers are reportedly to be opened in Russia’s “most advanced regions”.

The Nanofab-center chain is more of an infrastructural project, rather than direct investment project. Each center will bring Rusnano several prospective innovation projects with small and medium businesses – which is essential to keep up with the Government plan.

Lots of cash, few projects

There is no doubt that Rusnano has more than sufficient funds to carry out the announced project. The state corporation was founded in July 2007. Its purpose is to support nanotechnologies development in Russia. To carry out its functions, the corporation has about $4bn.

In almost two years of its existence the corporation approved only 14 projects. The RF deputy prime-minister Sergey Ivanov made it clear that the corporation was obviously “behind the plan”. Last year Rusnano invested less than $30m into nano-industry projects, eight times less the planned amount.

Anatoly Chubais replied to the criticism with a promise to approve five $45-$90m projects each month starting July. This way, in H2 2009 the corporation would hit its two-year investment target.

Mr. Chubais added, however, that his “corporation has achieved its main purpose – it built a mechanism, that can produce real business projects from proposals. Proposals may sometimes be a bit undeveloped and poor, but our job is to help the applicants.”

According to Mr. Chubais, Rusnano can co-finance projects by up to 90% and to give preferential loans at 7-14% interest for up to ten years.

According to the corporation’s materials, published on its website, Rusnano’s planned 2009 investment for production, infrastructural and educational projects will top $1bn.
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