The Rulers of Russia’s ‘Silicon Valley’

Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, is visiting California in the hopes of creating partners that can spur development of Russia’s own Silicon Valley, according to the AP.

Today’s article mentions the goal of the project called Innograd:

[Medvedev] wants to refashion Russia from a raw materials supplier into a high-tech, intellectual oasis where innovation thrives.

Russia is dealing with many of the problems that have plagued poorer countries.  Russia has historically had a very educated population but has experienced a huge brain drain in which its potential entrepreneurs have fled to the U.S., Europe, Israel and other countries.  Much of the economy has been based on oil and other minerals.  Moreover, I wonder how much Russia is still influenced by its history of Soviet-style top-down culture and management (the exact opposite of garage-based innovation).

I visited Innograd’s website, www.i-GOROD.com and was surprised by a few things, not the least of which was the dash in the URL, which made me feel that I was at site from the late 90s!  One interesting aspect was the inclusion on the founding team of Craig Barret, former CEO of Intel.  The other participants on the team have very impressive backgrounds, but I do wonder how entrepreneurial they are.  I’m just not sure if a government funded real estate project led by titans of oil and academia really has the right ingredients to transform Russian into a center of innovation.

I can sum up my doubts about this project by citing the ironic way the Innograd team is introduced on their website:

We are pleased to introduce to you the ruling top – those who are in charge of forming the team and creating the Innovative center project.

What kind of innovation project has a ‘ruling top’??

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