The Innovation Working Group (IWG) of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission met in Moscow on October 29 at API, a Moscow startup accelerator, for its fourth plenary meeting. U.S. Co-Coordinator Lorraine Hariton, State Department's Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs, joined Russia's Deputy Minister of Economic Development Oleg Fomichev in leading the meeting.
At the meeting, participants from government, private industry, and non-governmental organizations discussed the role of engineering centers in spurring innovation, the legal environment for innovative companies, U.S.-Russia regional cooperation on technology commercialization, and Russia’s strategy to grow its Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) sector. U.S. firms Boeing, Microsoft, Honeywell, and Intel, as well as MIT, played key roles in the conference, sharing success stories and offering creative ideas to foster more innovative business collaboration between the U.S. and Russia.
The IWG announced plans for a formal survey of Russian entrepreneurs to assess obstacles to innovation. University of California-Berkeley Law School will partner with the Higher School of Economics in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia to conduct the survey during the first half of 2014. Lorraine Hariton underscored the importance of gathering feedback from entrepreneurs on the legal environments for innovation in Russia and the U.S. and suggested participants visit a newly created crowd sourcing website to give their opinions.
Looking forward, the group plans to create a sub-working group to consider cooperation and best practices in establishing engineering centers. In addition, the group will continue its work on the legal framework and developing regional and university connections between the U.S. and Russia. With a view to the next meeting, the group will explore issues of investment and pre-commercialization of new technologies.
The IWG members joined other entrepreneurs the next day at the “Silicon Valley Meets Russia” conference hosted by Sberbank and Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) at the Digital October center. Continuing a collaboration initiated two years ago with Sberbank, SVB executives provided orientation and technical advice for start-ups and venture capital financers in Russia.