24 January 2012

Startups are expensive now

The average cost of startups in Russia ranges from 30 to 80 million rubles

<url>The average cost of launching an innovative startup in Russia in April-June 2011 amounted to 53 million rubles, the RVC press service reported on January 24.

At the same time, the average cost of launching startups participating in the programs and projects of a Russian venture Company (RVC Index) is about 36 million rubles.

This conclusion was made by the rating agency "Expert RA" based on the results of the study "Development of methodology and assessment of the average cost of an innovative startup in Russia", commissioned by JSC "Russian Venture Company". Based on the results of the 1st stage of research, a preliminary assessment was made of the indices of the cost of launching startups in Russia from the beginning of the project to the first sales of innovative products or the company's readiness to start operating activities.

The study was conducted between November 19 and December 19, 2011. The total volume of the initial sample of small innovative companies and teams of innovative projects amounted to more than 1,500 companies (projects). The respondents were participants of 68 innovative projects: participants of RVC programs and projects, residents of the Skolkovo Innovation Center, participants of the Open Innovation Community OIU.ru , as well as representatives of the projects of the Russian Innovation Competition.

The statistical sample of projects/companies analyzed in the framework of the study includes projects with a startup launch cost from 1,015 million rubles to 295,909 million rubles. The cost of launching each innovative startup participating in the study was determined as the sum of costs for 12 main items of expenditure, including labor remuneration.

The cost of launching startups depending on the segment:

  • Information and communication technologies – 32 103 thousand rubles.
  • Biotechnologies/life science – 58,680 thousand rubles.
  • Energy efficiency – 57,638 thousand rubles.
  • Other industrial technologies – 79,004 thousand rubles.
  • Related technologies and other innovative technologies – 30,882 thousand rubles.

The largest number of startups that answered the research questions are launched in the field of information and communication technologies (24%) and the biotechnology/life science segment (22%). This is followed by projects in the field of energy efficiency – the share of such projects is about 20% of the total number of innovative companies launched. The fact that the most popular projects are in the field of ICT is explained by the relatively low cost of launching projects, in particular, the absence of the need for large-scale investments in fixed assets. In addition, the human resources situation in the ICT sector seems to be more encouraging than in many other industries. As for the popularity of the biotechnology segment, this is largely a consequence of the activity of development institutions in this direction.

The largest share in the cost structure when launching innovative startups is research and development (R&D, R&D). In the total launch cost, R&D accounts for 43.8% of the costs on average. Further in the cost structure, the costs of raw materials and materials (16.1%) and the costs of equipment and means of production (13.1%) follow by a large margin. The only area where R&D expenses were not the most burdensome item of expenditure was the segment "energy efficiency projects": here almost half of the costs (49.4%) are raw materials and materials costs.

The high cost of research and development, according to the authors of the study, is aggravated by the fact that there are very few prepared sites in Russia for renting premises and equipment by small high-tech companies. The lack of access to research infrastructure forces project teams to spend a significant amount of money on R&D, largely because they have to create the entire infrastructure themselves from scratch. This leads to an unconditional rise in the cost of launching startups.

"The share of R&D costs could be significantly lower if there were adequate platforms for startups in the country, consisting of "clean rooms", engineering systems for technological support, a collective use center, an infrastructure workshop and a recreation area," said Alexey Khodyrev, a leading analyst at Expert RA.

It is believed that for the successful development of many projects, an administrative resource is needed: it allows you to reduce the duration of procedures and increase the effectiveness of the startup team's actions. In practice, less than 40% of startups have the opportunity to use an administrative resource. In most cases, it appears thanks to development institutions. Among the main advantages of administrative support, the study participants name tax benefits, access to research infrastructure, preferential rental of premises and consulting.

At the same time, respondents believe that not many people are able to take advantage of many benefits (especially research infrastructure and tax breaks) in practice. Thus, the existing assessment of preferences is a kind of advance to development institutions that contribute to solving the tasks of startups. In particular, several participants of the study reported that they are not using the benefits yet, but they expect that they will be able to use them in the coming months.

"The study of the average cost of launching startups in Russia, as well as the structure of the necessary costs, carried out by our order by the Expert RA rating agency, will allow us to clarify the main activities of state development institutions, including the Russian Venture Company, to improve the infrastructure of technological entrepreneurship," said Andrey Vvedensky, Director of the Department of Programs and Projects of JSCRussian Venture Company". – As part of its program activities, RVC plans to achieve a noticeable reduction in the average cost of launching startups in the period up to 2013 by providing affordable physical (premises, equipment, etc.) and service infrastructure for start-up companies."

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