The pace of change in Russia would appear slow at the moment. Recent and ongoing events in the Crimea and Ukraine suggest an inward-looking country that has..
The Russian Startup Tour began in March and included startup pitch-offs in 27 cities before culminating in a one-day, showcase event held at the Skolkovo Foundation‘s Moscow technology incubator. The event is indicative of the growth Russia’s nascent technology startup scene; the foundation plans to bring the Startup Tour to more Russian cities in 2015.
The Skolkovo Foundation is Russia’s state-sponsored push to jumpstart the country’s tech ecosystem. It’s not just promoting startups through the multi-city tech tour and competition. It’s also building a 400-hectare site on the outskirts of Moscow. That site will be a hub for up to 30,000 workers when the project is completed in 2020.
At the finale of the startup tour held earlier this month, the spotlight was on Russian robotics. Presentations ranged from glorified Meccano creations with an emphasis on Heath Robinson machines to a much more impressive kickboxing robot.
The winner of the $26,000 nationwide startup competition was ExoAtlet, an ambitious robotics company that not only aims to improve the quality of life for disabled people (an area where Russia has certainly not led the world), but also to provide disaster relief in affected zones.
There were also two second prizes. One went to Radio Gigabit, a resident of Skolkovo’s Space Technologies and Telecommunications Cluster, and the other to Nanooptic Devices, a resident of the Nuclear Cluster. The Jury’s Choice Award (as well as the Open Stage special audience award) went to Ivideon, a designer of digital planar holography.