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Corporations urged to work with startups to drive innovation

Experts expressed why corporations should work with more startup companies at festival in Moscow

Industry experts at the Startup Village in Moscow have urged corporations to work with startups to drive innovation in the tech sector. The open-air festival, which has more than 10,000 attendees, is aimed at attracting more investors to startup companies.

Jonathan Sparrow, vice-president for Russian and CIS-states at Cisco, said working with startups enables corporations to keep pace with innovation in a fast-moving industry. “Everything is growing so fast – the internet of things (IoT), for instance, is hard to keep up with. At Cisco we have a division that works with the startup sphere to work with or acquire companies," he said.

“The key is the forecast of new technologies. There are a number of forecasting tools out there, so companies should be capable of developing good forecasts to find the startups that are working on these technologies and then the race begins. Startups will always have a place in the framework of corporations.”

Sberbank senior vice-president Viktor Orlovskiy agreed but warned that knowing how to work with a startup and maintain a partnership is important.

“Sometimes you crash into a wall with innovation and it is hard for huge companies to move into new tracks of development. A crisis should take place in every company so there is continued innovation,” he said.

Meanwhile, president and head of SAP Innovation Hub in Israel, Michael Kemelmaher, said SAP is mostly interested in working with companies that are worth £10m and up. “We are very interested in what startups are doing and we are interested in partnerships with our platform to help integrate SAP into their infrastructure,” he said.

Siemens Healthcare Technology and Concepts head Oliver Heid said: “The sweet spot for us is a focus on manufacturing and working with startups to make the process faster in getting the product out to market.   

“It’s not just about the innovation of the business, but the people too. How can you build on ideas and make a good idea into a reliable product – that’s the challenge. And it’s not just new or high-tech products but solving the problems that people have with existing and sometimes mundane technology.”

DataAdvance general director Sergey Morozov said when a company comes to a “stalemate”, it finally turns outwards towards a startup. “Before this, it is normally closed and concerned or guided by its own affairs, which doesn’t have to be the way if it is working with startups earlier on,” he said.

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Corporations invest at Startup Village

Startup Village aims to connect investors with startups, and create jobs and opportunities. More than a dozen contracts were signed on the first day of the conference, amounting to £178m.

Contracts signed included an agreement between Skolkovo resident company Ivideon and Impulse VC, as well as an commitment to create a Sovzond research and development (R&D) centre at the Skolkovo Innovation Center.

One of the biggest contracts signed was the Biocity initiative between Skolkovo Foundation and Turku Science Park. Biocity is a biomedical research facility, and the deal was signed by Skolkovo president Victor Vekselberg and Turku Science Park general director Rikumatti Levomäki during the show’s opening ceremony.

Turku Science Park is set to take on a partner and operator role in the project. Biocity will cover 20,000 square metres and will be financed by Finland’s Capital Development Group, which is investing €200m (£146m).

In addition, Russia’s first private space firm, Dauria Aerospace, saw its R&D arm receive £695m for its Auriga project. Dauria Satellite Technologies received the investment from state corporation Vnesheconombank, which will enable the firm to develop Auriga, a new satellite that takes high-resolution images of earth for optical remote sensing.

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