The Strategic Initiatives Agency (SIA), established upon Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s initiative, began working in September. Valdaiclub.com interview with SIA General Director Andrey Nikitin about the agency’s activities.
The agency is pursuing three main approaches: “New Business,” “Young Professionals” and “Social Projects.” Could you please describe in more detail these programs and the procedures for supporting specific projects?
“New Business” component aims to help select the most interesting business projects that may derive high profits and provide tangible support for the national economy.
Meanwhile, “Young Professionals” section develops new professional standards to link career development with jobs thus creating new opportunities for novice business people in an effort to motivate them to stay in the country.
At the same time, the “Social Projects” section plans to use various approaches in involving business in more social issues which would resolve many problems.
What is the primary difference between the SIA and funds like Skolkovo, the Russian Venture Company and Rosnano?
These are development institutes and they spend the money as they see fit. But they usually work on the “rejection principle.” If a project submitted for review does not suit them for one reason or another, they simply reject it.
The SIA has a different approach. If a project is sound, but not well presented or thought out, then we will help the authors to correctly prepare a project application and compile a business plan. We will also recommend sources of funding. We will also promote these projects to potential sponsors, including development institutes. Later on, we will monitor the implementation of these projects and help their authors tackle certain obstacles, such as resistance or tacit sabotage by officials, or an imperfect legal base, among other things.
Will SIA use foreign experience in supporting medium-sized companies?
Global experience in this field is vast and diverse, which is natural as medium-sized companies in most advanced economies serve as the major contributors to the budget, and have a stabilizing influence on the economy.
Well aware of this fact, the United States, Canada and Germany, joined by East European countries in the past few decades, have created favorable conditions for these companies – consultative centers, soft lending and a system of centralized or consistent contracts. Our specialists must study the best foreign examples of support for medium-sized companies and introduce them in Russia.
What are the agency’s prospects? What results do you hope to achieve and when?
We are likely to deal with 100-200 projects annually after selecting the first projects in October and November. The more projects we discuss, the better. By helping medium-sized companies implement projects and improve the business environment, we will be able to reach the agency’s primary goal more quickly – to create a country where people want to live, work and raise their kids.