Luring foreigners to build a ‘Silicon Valley’

Vladislav Surkov

Vladislav Surkov

Russia needs to set about attracting several of the best foreigners rather than lure Russian expats home if it is going to create its own “Silicon Valley”, a senior Kremlin official told Vedomosti newspaper.

Vladislav Surkov, first deputy head of the presidential administration, said in an interview that there was a lot of “beautiful but unwise” talk about reversing Russia’s brain drain.

“We must bring the best here, and whether they are ours or not is a small matter. If we attract a few landmark names, known in their professional field, this will open doors to us, and show that it is possible and necessary to be here,”said the official, who chairs a working group to develop a Russian hi-tech enclave.

“We need a new ‘German settlement’,” Mr Surkov said, referring to an area of Moscow in Peter the Great’s time that provided the spark for much of the tsar’s reforms.

The official said the government would likely choose a site near Moscow to create its hoped-for hothouse of technological innovation, but suggested that somewhere further afield, such as Vladivostok, was also an option.

“We are discussing different regions. Many believe that it is necessary to build it close to Moscow,” said Mr Surkov.

“It still has the highest scientific, technical and financial potential. But there are other interesting options – Vladivostok, for example.”

Mr Surkov went on to lay out the conditions necessary to create a Silicon Valley in Russia, stressing that it was up to the state to provide an environment in which innovative private companies could flourish.

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