Success Story of Russia’s northernmost Technopark
The Yakutia Technopark has demonstrated exceptional dynamics since it first started operations: during the 4 years of its existence, it has attracted more than 80 residents, mainly local companies. The success of the technopark is not only found in the development and prospects of each business as such. This effective model of state support for projects was used to create the Kangalassy Industrial Park, the first Advanced Special Economic zone in Yakutia.
Today it is Yakutia that provides new businesses with the most comprehensive and coherent chain of support – administrative support, preferential rental terms, financing, achieving industrial levels of operations and obtaining all the benefits from the Advanced Special Economic zone regime, and all this in a single-window system.
We are going to talk about the development of modern advanced technology businesses with Anatoly Semyonov, Director of the Yakutia Technopark.
– Anatoly, what are the advantages of developing a business in Yakutia? The region is remote, the prices in the local market are high, and the market itself is small.
– Yet, on the other hand, there are also unique benefits in starting a business here: the region has a significant potential to replace imported products. In our case, it is easy to calculate the future market and identify the prospects for the development of each specific technology or innovation. Another important point is that today, Yakutia is a region which has developed probably the most elaborate system in the country for providing support to innovative businesses. We have a technopark, a venture company, and a Advanced Special Economic zone called the Kangalassy Industrial Park, which has been operating here since last year. The functions and authorities are distributed among them, in such a way that there is almost no overlap. These are links in the same chain.
– How would you evaluate the demand for this support?”
– “As time goes by, more and more people make their attempts, invest and take risks, and we obtain more and more interesting results. Today we have 85 residents, we opened a branch in the town of Neryungri, and thanks to the whole range of methods used to seek out new projects, including the work of our own Regional Engineering Center, we now have a solid portfolio of promising business projects.
– What are your technology priorities these days? What projects do you consider as being the ones – that will grow?
– Today there is much talk about cryotechnology. We need to learn to use the potential energy of frost. Now there are discussions taking place on the possibilities for placing data processing centers in Yakutia. Systems installed in such centers become very hot because they consume a lot of energy. This heat can be used for heating buildings, while the cooling system of the data centers can come from the outside, with the use of the cool outdoor air or from under the ground. If the experiments show good results and efficiency, our republic could become a platform for data centers of major companies.
Today there are about 30 IT-companies in Yakutsk, and many of them have sales turnover measured in the millions. As we are located far from mass sales areas, we simply have to invest into the development of this sector. We are currently working on the creation of an IT-park, which will be a huge modern building with an area of 20,000 square meters in the center of Yakutsk. It will be the home to Yakutia’s IT companies.
Another important area is biotechnology, which is based on the unique properties of our plants. It is known that the extreme environmental conditions of Yakutia promote increased synthesis of biologically active substances in plants, which can be used for the production of medicines and dietary supplements.
– The commercialization of R&D is a complex issue. Developers often do not realize how they can create a business from their idea.
– We are looking for projects that can be implemented not tomorrow, and not the day after tomorrow, and not in any foreseeable future, but today. For example, last year solid fuel boilers were installed in Yakutia. These are based on an innovative technology of an upper combustion system, which allows reducing fuel costs several times. This saves on resources and also provides more free time for the residents of our villages. You know, even in these modern times, people in our rural communities take turns when attending weddings, because someone must stay at home to look after the fire in the oven. Here is that very demand for innovations that we are talking about.
Russia now has technoparks that are more than 10 years old and have given rise to businesses with sales turnovers measured in the billions. Over the years, together with our residents, we have achieved real measurable financial results, meaning exponential growth of sales turnover. We started much later, but we have demonstrated very impressive dynamics from the very start.
– Who are the future consumers of the innovations coming from Yakutia?
– If we want to achieve a breakthrough innovation, which we are always discussing, we need to start exporting right now. The Yakutia Technopark has received the status of a member of the International Association of Science Parks (IASP), whose mission is to create a global network of science parks and innovation centers around the world, contributing to their growth and development.
We are interested in the implementation of export-oriented projects, as these have no restrictions when it comes to volumes of investments. We concluded our first export contract with China last year, for the supply of nanocomposite additives to the feed for chicken and fish, which improve nutrient assimilation. Our product enjoys high demand: the weight gain of birds can be from 12% to 18%.
– The term of the program period of some Yakutia Technopark residents is coming to an end. Are they ready for graduation and to continue their work outside the incubator?
– Next year, we will be honoring our first graduates. We wondered where they would be going, ‘where are these young plants from the greenhouse going to grow?’ We have found a solution in the establishment of an industrial park, which will give them, on the one hand, comfortable conditions for working, and, on the other hand, it will mean that they are already in the market. The Kangalassy Industrial Park has received support at the federal level – the Russian Government gave it the status of a Advanced Special Economic zone. Some of our residents, such as Sakha Lipsnele, the manufacturer of long-burning boilers, and Bige, a paints manufacturer, have already received the status of residents of the Advanced Special Economic zone and started constructing their facilities in the industrial park. Administrative preferences and tax privileges that they receive as residents of the Advanced Special Economic zone give their business a good momentum. For example, the Sakha Lipsnele now has an opportunity to import production equipment without paying import duties. This provides significant savings. By the way, during the time of the Forum, this enterprise, the first one in our Advanced Special Economic zone, will start its operations.
Another factor, which is just as important, is that the residents of the Technopark are also developing outside of Yakutia. A very important role is played by the fact that we have a branch of Skolkovo in the Far East. We are actively cooperating, and as many as 5 Yakutia companies have received the status of Skolkovo residents.