21 May 2015

Union of Four

Siberian clusters united,
to increase the production of biotechnological products

Tatiana Kuznetsova, Rossiyskaya Gazeta

Siberian regional biopharmaceuticals have united into the Siberian Biotechnological Initiative (SBI) in the hope of receiving federal support. Four regions have joined the joint project of the SBI – Novosibirsk and Tomsk regions, Altai and Krasnoyarsk Territories. However, the sources of funding have not yet been determined.

The first official presentation of the program "Siberian Biotechnological Initiative" is to be held at the International Forum of Technological Development "Technoprom-2015" in June.

– SBI will unite a number of research, educational, infrastructure and production projects under a common strategy, - explained Alexander Zhidkikh, Deputy head of the Main Department of Economy and Investment of the Altai Territory. – It's too early to talk about specific investments. Sources of financing, and this is the federal budget, extra-budgetary funds are being determined now. The Russian Venture Company and the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia have already expressed their interest in implementing a large interregional biotechnology project.

At this stage, the SBI participants "divide" the areas of specialization – who will be engaged in what projects. According to the director of the Altai Center for Cluster Development Alexander Kondykov, the Altai Territory will work on biotechnologies and waste disposal in the agricultural sector. The participants of the biopharmaceutical cluster, such as Altayvitamins, Evalar, FNPC Altai, as well as large agricultural enterprises of the region (primarily processors of meat products), where it will be possible to implement these developments, will become anchor enterprises of the SBI. "In the future, it is planned that other regions of the Siberian Federal District will join the Siberian Biotechnological Initiative, and the participating clusters will work not only on their specific projects, but also develop joint ones," Kondykov stressed.

Biotechnopark in the Koltsovo science city, Sibbiopharm Software in Berdsk, Akadempark (Novosibirsk Akademgorodok), institutes of the SB RAS should become active participants of the SBI from the Novosibirsk region. According to Maria Galyamova, Director of the Biotechnology and Biomedicine cluster of the Academic Park, the main goal of the initiative is to revive the biotechnology industry and ensure import substitution of biotechnologies in agriculture and forestry, pharmaceuticals, and the food industry.

The initiators of the project plan not only to increase their own production of food enzymes, bioengineers, substances for antibiotics, components of modern vaccines and other biological products, but also to significantly expand the consumption market. So, if now the Altai Territory consumes bio-products by about $ 50 million a year (of which only ten percent is produced in the region), then by 2020 it is planned to increase the volume to $ 212 million, and in general in the SFD to $ 560 million (now about 180 million). At the same time, the share of consumed biotechnological products of own production should exceed 60 percent by this time. To do this, in the next four to five years, it is necessary to increase its own production tenfold. The plans are more than grandiose and poorly feasible without serious support from the federal budget.

However, previous initiatives to unite regional clusters have not yet received support. Thus, the idea of "Business Russia" to choose the strongest clusters in the Russian regions and create territorial and industrial complexes on their basis has remained only a proposal, although at the end of 2014 five such projects were presented at the Samara Economic Forum. The organizers of the SBI are confident that their brainchild is more viable.

– The Siberian Biotechnological Initiative is the creation and development of a large scientific and industrial complex so that the federal government does not consider the proposals of individual regions, but can finance large projects. We hope that this will attract more investments," Alexander Zhidkikh expressed hope.

Of course, territorial clusters still enjoy state support both federal and regional. Last year, 134.3 million rubles (114.3 million federal) were allocated for the development of four clusters created in the Altai Territory. The bulk of the funds – almost 70 percent – went to a long-running and well-established biopharmaceutical cluster. According to the head of the Main Department of Economy and Investments of the region Nikolay Chinyakov, in addition to traditional support measures that are provided for "non-cluster" enterprises (reimbursement of interest rates on loans and leasing payments, provision of state guarantees, subsidizing equipment costs, preferential rent), cluster participants are offered assistance from special centers: engineering and resource, cluster development, public use.

So, in 2014, the Altai Biopharmaceutical cluster received more than 59 million rubles of federal funds for equipping a biotechnological laboratory and a center for collective use.

– Despite the existing choice of support mechanisms, they are not used enough in practice, – Nikolay Chinyakov comments on the situation. – Therefore, intra-industry cooperation of clusters is of great importance. Today, priority is given to joint initiatives, as well as projects that provide a serious budgetary and social effect in the form of an increase in tax deductions, the creation of high-tech jobs, and an increase in wages. Cluster formations can also receive significant preferences at the federal level. In conditions of fierce competition for limited budget resources, an autonomous application is likely to lose to cluster initiatives supported by cooperation with science and education.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru21.05.2015

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