Can Skolkovo, The ‘Russian Silicon Valley,’ Really Compete With American Tech?


According to TechCrunch, the Russian government has committed another $4 billion (135.6 billion rubles) to Skolkovo, the state-funded campaign to create a “Russian Silicon Valley.”

The city of Skolkovo itself is located about an hour from Moscow, and the Skolkovo Innovation Center plans to build a technology campus for over 20,000 startup employees — if the project can survive the forces of corruption and Western skepticism working against it.


“Russian startup village” is an oxymoron, like “unbiased American tech blog.”


Deputy Prime Minister Vladislav Surkov has already lost his job over financial and criminal complaints about Skolkovo; some critics say the city’s system of tax breaks and tech-focus draw unpleasant parallels to the Cold War-era “Naukograd,” or “Science Cities.”

The Russian government is also paying MIT $300 million to help create a University at the site, and Nokia, Siemens, Samsung and Cisco Systems are a few of the tech giants that plan on supporting the project.

Similar to Kenya’s ‘Silicon Savannah,’ Russia’s startup efforts are easy to scoff at from our comfortable Western perch, but the fact is, these government’s are following American tech by necessity. The energy sector still accounts for 30% of Russia’s GDP, and analysts are concerned the entire economy may be entering a recession after sluggish investment and household spending this past quarter.