05 July 2012

Skolkovo billions

Who earns on Skolkovo

IA "Amitel"The state spares no money to transform the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo into the Russian Silicon Valley – by 2014 it will pump approximately 85 billion rubles there.

This is without taking into account voluntary and compulsory deductions of state-owned companies, which will also pull tens of billions. How is this money distributed? Irina Mokrousova, a correspondent of the Vedomosti newspaper, understood this.

The site on which the Russian innovation city (abbreviated innograd) is to grow is located between the Minsk and Skolkovo highways, on both sides of the road connecting them. If you drive along the road from the Skolkovo highway, the logo rises on the hill to the left: giant green letters "Skolkovo" and the brand name SK are decorated with drawings and inscriptions of folk content. After driving about a kilometer, you run into a checkpoint with a barrier, they let you through only with a special permit. From the side of the Minsk highway – the same barrier. The innovation zone is patrolled by employees of the PSC "Alfa-anti-criminal" on several cars. The correspondent of Vedomosti found on the territory of the "regime facility" was politely expelled by them.

Information boards placed in innograd state that futuristic buildings "Dome" and "Rock", a university, a technopark, a transport hub, as well as a Sberbank technopark will appear here. So far there are only two buildings – the actual headquarters of the construction site and the "Hypercube", an office center in the form of a slightly askew cube.

Forests and innograd"Instant access to Kutuzovsky Prospekt, gas, electricity, fresh air," a government official lists Skolkovo's advantages.

Alexey Sitnikov, Vice-President for Management and Development of the Skolkovo Foundation, also disagrees with those who suggested setting up an innograd somewhere in Dubna or Novosibirsk, on the basis of existing science cities. It is best to be in an open field and closer to Moscow, he believes: "Well, imagine: old heating networks somewhere in Dubna, which must first be removed and then built anew. It's easier at Greenfield."

Initially, the Skolkovo innograd was planned to be divided into 600 hectares – at least, such an area appeared in the documents of the government commission for the development of housing construction. But state structures in those parts owned only 375 hectares. They were seized from the Research Institute of Agriculture "Nemchinovka". And around – private land. Then-President Dmitry Medvedev promised to buy them back at market prices. In the summer of 2010 Viktor Vekselberg, who heads the Skolkovo Foundation, asked the government to allocate another 103 hectares.

"There is more than enough land there to settle 20,000-30,000 people. Much more than that? – says a government official. – To build up 375 hectares is a serious project, time.

[Innograd] does not need spaces, it needs a reasonable urban planning policy. And they [the Skolkovo Foundation] say: give us more land. It is not clear what their appetites are based on. This is earnings from capital expenditures, this is squalor. What for? Spending public money? Everyone wants to build more. Well, let them build at least this." "In that area, large plots of land belong to people like Roman Abramovich, Suleiman Kerimov. When innograd appears in Skolkovo, the value of their lands will increase," he continues. – Already grown – after all the statements. No normal person sells anything here. [Anatoly] Chubais, for example, could not purchase a plot here."

Among the neighbors of Skolkovo there are also Igor Shuvalov and Alexander Svetakov (Absolut). But the biggest one seems to be Abramovich. This year he will complete the construction of a golf club (78 hectares) designed by the famous American golfer Jack Nicklaus. Abramovich's Millhouse also has several other projects there, in particular Skolkovo Park (residential complex – 8,7 hectares, offices – 11 hectares), as well as Meshchersky Park (400 hectares). Residents of Innograd will be able to use the infrastructure that Abramovich is building, the official suggests: "For example, a golf club. Of course, every visiting student will not get there, but the professors, please, can come and play." Millhouse spokesman John Mann says Abramovich has not received offers to sell the site here.

Now the issue with the expansion of innograd is closed. "We have added a few more hectares [to the previously allocated 375 hectares] where road interchanges should be according to plan. There is no question of any new acquisitions. It's just that Skolkovo polyana is not overloaded with objects of the “hypermarket" type. The main focus is on a place for scientists to work," says Stanislav Naumov, Vice President of Skolkovo for interaction with public authorities. "A total of 389 hectares have been allocated. There will be neither more nor less land," a source in the government apparatus told Vedomosti. Andreas Heim, chief architect of the French bureau AREP, which creates the urban planning concept of Skolkovo, confirmed that the science city will be located on an area of about 400 hectares: "This is all together – with roads, public areas, parks, etc. The area of premises in the built–up area is more than 2 million square meters.m."

How many-how many?Innograd is managed by the Foundation for the Development of the Center for the Development and Commercialization of New Technologies, established in May 2010, or the Skolkovo Foundation for short.

Its founders are mainly Russian development institutions: Vnesheconombank, the Russian Venture Company (RVC), Rusnano, the Fund for the Promotion of Small Forms of Entrepreneurship in Scientific and Technological Fields.

"The Skolkovo Foundation is a non–profit organization," Vice President Naumov emphasizes. – That is, the founders direct the profit from the work of the foundation only to solving statutory tasks. The Fund exists on a subsidy provided by the Ministry of Finance. Its total size for 2010-2014 is 85 billion rubles." To date, the Ministry of Finance has provided the fund with subsidies totaling 25 billion rubles, a source in the government apparatus told Vedomosti; 22 billion rubles are planned for 2013.

But 85 billion rubles from the budget is far from everything. The state intends to finance Skolkovo through state corporations and state-owned companies. In 2010, Medvedev ordered them to allocate an "innovative component" in their investment programs. And this year they decided to oblige them to transfer 1% of this component or 3% of the net profit under RAS to the endowment fund of Skoltech (an institute created with a grant from the Skolkovo Foundation, the founders are VEB, MIPT, Rusnano, NCSC RAS, Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, Tomsk Polytechnic University, Fund for Assistance to the Development of Small Forms of Enterprises in the Scientific and Technical Sphere, RVC, NES).

It's strong. For example, in 2011 Rosneft envisaged 8,552 billion rubles for innovations, i.e. deductions would amount to more than 85 million rubles, and the company's net profit under RAS was 384 billion rubles, i.e. deductions would amount to 11.5 billion rubles. According to Gazprom, these figures are 54 million and 26.4 billion rubles, respectively. But it would be cheaper for Rosatom to pay out of net profit – 21.6 million against 158 million rubles, if we count from the innovation program. There are about 50 companies on the list of future payers, so in any case, the bill will go to billions.

None of the companies has transferred the money yet, admits Vice-President Sitnikov (he is also the head of Skoltech). The process is just beginning, he says: the decisions will be supported by representatives of the state on the boards of directors. From this money, an endowment will be formed (the target capital of a non–profit organization - VM), on which Skoltech will live.

According to Naumov, the planned budget of Skoltech for 2012 is 15 billion rubles. "By 2019, the volume of the endowment should be $2 billion, or 66 billion rubles at the current rate, which will make our endowment per student the third or fourth largest in the world," says Sitnikov. VTB Capital Investment Management and Alfa-Capital will manage the endowment.

State-owned companies and state corporations will transfer money under a donation agreement. At the same time, Skoltech will sign a cooperation agreement with them, according to which it will help them in innovative development. For example, Sitnikov explains, a certain oil company needs to reduce the cost of production, "this is achieved by various technologies – both IT and chemical, communication": "This is about the area where we can say: aha, we can jointly develop something that will help you reduce the cost."

Rosneft confirmed to Vedomosti that they are negotiating with Skoltech, but did not specify their content and the terms of signing contracts. Gazprom Neft said that "the company will take into account the capabilities of Skolkovo in its innovation programs." Aeroflot, according to a source close to the company, plans to transfer 300 million rubles to Skoltech this year (200 million from the innovation budget, 100 million from the reserve fund).

"Are state-owned companies happy or not [that they have to pay money to Skolkovo]? Sitnikov asks. – There is no definite answer. The idea [of the endowment] is correct. The shape is not perfect. Usually, in the classics of fundraising, the process goes differently: there is an interested corporation, there is a conversation about mutually beneficial cooperation, there are ways, and then financing. We have these processes going on simultaneously."

Money for lifeNaumov says that of the 25 billion rubles allocated for 2011, the fund spent only 10 billion rubles.

Of these, 1.5 billion rubles were spent under the article "management expenses" – salaries of employees and rental of premises: while innograd is being built, the fund rents space in the World Trade Center (there, in particular, Vekselberg's office). Vekselberg himself did not respond to Vedomosti's request.

The main item of expenditure of Skolkovo is the creation of infrastructure, says Naumov: the buildings of the university and the technopark, the internal network of energy, heat, water supply, internal roads (external are financed separately, by the fund, see the cut). The second largest item of expenditure, according to Naumov, is the payment for the services of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which helps to create Skoltech. But none of the fund managers interviewed by Vedomosti wanted to say exactly how much Skolkovo pays him. According to Vekselberg, quoted by RBC Daily, Skolkovo pays MIT "significantly less than $1 billion", which one of the former Soviet republics offered to the American institute for about the same set of services. The three-year contract with MIT provides for "the development and formation of the organizational structure of Skoltech, as well as its educational and research programs."

The fund selects contractors through tenders. Skolkovo's "daughters" order something for themselves: for example, the Skolkovo Intellectual property Center rented a car with a driver for 174,600 rubles per month. But large orders related to the construction of infrastructure are placed by the head structure – the fund itself – and the joint directorate for asset Management and services of Skolkovo.

Here are some orders. PSP-Farman was chosen for the construction of the building of the Urban Development Center (aka "Hypercube"), which will receive 941.9 million rubles (this is for the first stage, 40% of the construction costs); Gorinzhproekt is engaged in the development of project documentation for trunk and distribution engineering networks for 770.3 million rubles (40% of the contract). Engineering and geological surveys for the construction of Skoltech are carried out by NIPII ET Energotransproekt (21.6 million rubles), and for the construction of the technopark building - the Construction Research Center (18.6 million rubles). The order of the Skolkovo Smart City concept from Cognitive Technologies cost 89.7 million rubles (25% contract).

The urban planning concept cost 195,000 euros, it was ordered by the French bureau AREP, which has experience in Russia. The chief architect of the bureau, Andreas Heim, told Vedomosti that since 2009 he has been designing plans for railway stations for Russian Railways: "We have sketched more than 15 projects for the development of stations <...> We also helped Russian partners in urban planning for Krasnoyarsk and Russky Island in Vladivostok." According to him, designers are currently working on the general plan of the city of Skolkovo, "the project is under approval."

The Foundation spends millions of rubles on various consultants. The contract for the creation of the analytical report "Radiation Technologies: a view from Russia" was awarded to the center for strategic Research "North-West", which is headed by the chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank Rossiya Yuri Kovalchuk (18.5 million rubles), the information and analytical and advertising support of the fund's activities is engaged for 97.5 million rubles. The IMA group received 3 million rubles. KMPG and Ernst&Young for the search and selection of experts for the cluster of energy efficient technologies.

Money for nothingAt the St. Petersburg Economic Forum held in June, Viktor Vekselberg said that 500 companies are already participating in Skolkovo.

They are distributed in clusters, there are five of them in Skolkovo: IT, energy-efficient technologies, biomedical technologies, nuclear technologies and space technologies. What do the participants get?

Skolkovo gives its residents tax benefits: it exempts them from income tax, VAT and property tax for 10 years, and they pay insurance premiums at a rate of 14% (instead of 30%). Foreign specialists working at Skolkovo have the right to obtain a work permit and documents for entry into Russia in a simplified manner. The income tax rate for them is 13%, not 30%, as for other foreigners.

There have been incidents with these benefits. "According to the Skolkovo law, we have no income tax. It is not known how this should be reflected in accounting: not to file a declaration or to file a zero declaration," says Sergey Andreev, president of ABBYY Group. – We corresponded with the tax service. We received some advice from the foundation. We came to the conclusion that we should not file any income tax return. And so they did. As a result, our accounts were blocked at the Skolkovo company." Now, according to Naumov, the tax inspections have received clarifications about the taxation of residents of Skolkovo, and the own tax for the participants of innograd will appear in 2014.

But the benefits for innovators are not too relevant yet – they have no profit; sales that could be raised by the VAT benefit, too; and IT companies, for example, can use the benefits for insurance payments without Skolkovo.

Therefore, the main thing is irrevocable grants that are given to residents. According to the calculations of Vedomosti, based on data taken from the Skolkovo website, such grants were approved for 6.75 billion rubles. They gave out about 2 billion rubles, the recipients – about 100 residents, says Naumov.

To get a grant, you need to be a Russian company and become a resident of one of the innograd clusters. Then submit an application, it is evaluated by independent experts. Selection criteria: scientific novelty and lack of analogues on the market. From the point of view of commerce – the possibility of bringing a product to market within a maximum of 10 years. By this time, the sales volume should reach 1 billion rubles, and the accumulated profit – 300 million rubles, says Naumov. A prerequisite is co–financing by the applicant or third parties: projects worth up to 40 million rubles are financed in the proportion of 25% (applicant) by 75% (fund), up to 300 million rubles – 50% by 50%, above 300 million rubles – 75% by 25%. "These are grants. That is, we are not part of the authorized capital," Naumov emphasizes.

The decision to allocate a grant is made very quickly – within a month after the application is submitted, and the first tranche is transferred 3-5 days after the fund receives confirmation of the transfer of money by the co-investor, says Alexey Demidov, CEO of Asteros Labs, which received a grant to develop IT products for automating the work of client services. "The deal was moving very quickly," confirms Sergey Kuzmin, vice president of Timur Bekmambetov's Bazelevs film company, which received a grant to create a film language technology when the script text is automatically translated into an animated video. – In July 2010, they submitted documents [to Skolkovo, to the Commission for modernization under the President of Russia], and in December 2010 [when Skolkovo appeared] we already had a deal closed. Skolkovo acted quickly and enthusiastically, we liked it."

How are things with control? The grant is transferred not immediately in its entirety, but within two years, in tranches – after the delivery of each semi-annual project and financial report, says Demidov from Asteros Labs. "You are being watched, and being watched quite closely. Most of the money is spent, as a rule, on wages, and wages are taxes, which is easy to control," echoes Andreev from ABBYY, who received a grant to create a web platform for translating complex technical and literary texts.

And what if the project fails and it turns out that the money is wasted? "It's okay," Naumov believes. – Skolkovo has the right to make a mistake. Let 8000 out of 10,000 projects be unsuccessful. But 2000 will be successful. We have an agreement with the Accounting Chamber: all financial obligations that we undertake are subject to a preliminary audit according to its standards."

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru05.07.2012

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