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Can the Kremlin's Silicon Valley Succeed?

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Kaspersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab (left), and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (right) met last year at the launch of a new Russian commission to promote technology development in the country. Medvedev recently announced plans to build a Silicon Val

Credit: Kaspersky Lab

Russia is finalizing plans to start a Silicon Valley-like innovation center near Moscow. The Kremlin has chosen a site, arranged funding, and named Nobel Laureate Zhores Alferov, a physicist, as the project's science advisor.

"There certainly isn't any shortage of really bright technical people with great technological ideas in Russia, and that's a strong suit," says Harvard professor of investment banking Josh Lerner. He says Russia will need to demonstrate that inventors can secure their intellectual property and protect it in the courts, and that investors will not face heavy taxes or other restrictions in financing new projects. The facility will be built from scratch in the village of Skokolo, to the west of Moscow.

Two major objectives of the initiative are to create a government-subsidized lab and corporate space to take advantage of Russian innovations, and to create a research university that provides Ph.D.s with access to supercomputers and other resources to develop new technologies. The overall goal is to commercialize emerging technologies in energy, biomedicine, information technology, telecommunications, and nuclear engineering, and to help Russia diversify its economy.

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