I have just returned from a visit to Samara, in the south of Russia, on an economic mission. I was impressed by the country and not only by its size. We met dynamic and competent people who want to get involved for their region, in particular :
- Swiss Center Samara: our local partner, managed by the dynamic Nicolas Waeffler. Their main goal is to help Swiss companies to work with Russian universities and companies to allow them to benefit from their knowledge and their access to the Russian market.
- Samara University: this is the university that sent Gagarin into space and supported the entire Russian space programme. It has 18,000 students and its own test airfield. Currently it trains experts in aeronautics, space rockets, computing etc.
- AvtoVAZ: a Russian automobile manufacturer, which produces Lada, Renault and Nissan. The factory is one of the largest in the world with an entirely modernised production line of more than 140 km.
- Samara State Medical University: amazing demonstrations in the field of medical informatics, particularly in the visualisation of the human body.
- Technopark Jigouli Valley: a brand new incubator, Russian-style, that is huge. It covers 6.8 hectares and aims to host Russian and foreign companies as well as start-ups, right next to the AvtoVAZ factories.
- Startup Samara: an incubator for start-ups, managed by the spirited and dynamic Serguei.
The region which trains a large number of engineers and has outstanding technology, nevertheless has difficulty in reaching international markets. The sanctions against Russia, and the lack of skills in languages, marketing, intellectual property etc. do not help. I had the opportunity to make a presentation on the transfer of technology at the second Russian-Swiss Forum on Innovation, on 2 June 2016, and to discuss the advantages of an open innovation ecosystem, that is with a facilitated transfer of technology between the universities and the companies or between companies.