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Participants in EEF 2022 Visiting Session Discussed IT Development in Far East

12 July 2022
Участники выездной сессии Восточного экономического форума – 2022 обсудили развитие ИТ-отрасли на Дальнем Востоке

The capital of the Republic of Yakutia (Sakha) with the support of the Russian Ministry for the Development of the Far East and Arctic, the Far East and Arctic Development Corporation and the Roscongress Foundation hosted a visiting session of the 7th Eastern Economic Forum 2022. The topic of the session was ‘The IT Industry as a Driver for Improving the Quality of Life in the Far East’. The event was attended by heads of federal and regional authorities, development institutions and business representatives.

The visiting session hosted a session entitled ‘Best Practices to Stimulate IT Industry Development’.

At the panel session, participants discussed existing mechanisms and issues related to supporting the IT industry in the Far East, as well as the issues of staff shortages, the ‘brain drain’ fr om the Far East, challenges in creating a comfortable business climate, and the work of venture capital funds to attract investment in digital projects.

Anatoly Bobrakov, Deputy Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Arctic, noted that a qualitative leap forward in the development of the Russian Far East is impossible without systematic, timely work and contribution to the education and development of human capital — Far East residents and northerners. And he emphasized that conditions and places for the comfortable conduct of innovative business have already been created and continue to be created in the Far East. «These are the innovative R&D centre on Russky Island and the IT cluster in the Republic of Yakutia. In order to develop the digital industry, we need to continue creating infrastructure. And we must not forget about the development of local education. For example, supporting schoolchildren’s interest in IT,» commented Anatoly Bobrakov.

The panellists cited the experience of the IT industry in Yakutia as a positive example of a developed digital industry. The Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is the leader in the export of IT services in the Far East and ranks ninth in Russia. By the end of 2020, Yakutia’s IT services exports totalled more than RUB 2.7 billion, with more than RUB 1.6 billion in the first half of 2021.

Session moderator Anatoly Semyonov, Minister of Innovation, Digital Development and Infocommunication Technologies of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), noted that the IT industry cannot be created quickly. It takes a long strategy and a clear vision of the goal. «A successful implementation of an IT industry development strategy in any region of the Far East takes shaping a community of IT entrepreneurs. This is wh ere Yakutia started in 2012. What is needed is a regional innovation development team and resources. The region must make a choice. If it is seriously staking on IT development, then regulations should be passed and finances allocated for these purposes. The Head of the Republic signed a decree on innovation and digital development. A government body in charge of this issue, a separate state programme and development institutions have been created. They include the IT Park, the Innovation Development Fund, a start-up accelerator and so on. This is the interaction of all stakeholders — universities, corporations, venture funds, business angels, the entrepreneurial community, development institutions and the government. We should focus on open innovations and going beyond the region,» said Anatoly Semyonov.

Vasily Yefimov, General Director of Venture Company Yakutia, shared his experience of working with the Yakutia PRO community and working with the Yakut community outside the region. «Yakutia’s innovation ecosystem involves Yakutians outside the region. People who leave and become successful support their region: they invest, support connections, share their experience and knowledge,» said Vasily Yefimov.

Ivan Fedotov, Director of the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia, noted that all necessary support measures already exist, but there is no system of mentoring and training fr om an early age. «The problem is that there is no global system of primary education in IT (from age 5 to 20) — you need to be involved in the profession through a mentoring system even before universities. The mentoring system should become a mandatory corporate culture for any successful company,» emphasised Ivan Fedotov.

According to Alexander Borisov, Director of Technopark in High Technology (IT Park, Kazan), support measures are of secondary importance, the most important thing is a strong community of initiative people in the IT industry. «You need a ‘community’ of industry people. They are triggered by the fact that there’s a cool company here, which means an international start-up can grow here — and that’s the key thing that attracts people. When you look at other companies taking off, you realize that you can do it too,» said Alexander Borisov.

Ruslan Sarkisov, General Director of Voskhod Venture Fund, noted the importance of the IT community in the development of the digital industry as a whole. «It is important not only to have success stories, which are certainly inspiring, but also to have a professional community wh ere one can communicate with each other, exchange ideas, and organize new companies. This community is the most important thing. Therefore, the work of development institutions and creation of local IT environment are the key elements that create the necessary conditions for development of tech-entrepreneurship,» shared Ruslan Sarkisov.

Marina Petrova, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Industry of Irkutsk Region, noted the importance of financial support for the digital industry. «Russia has its own potential, educational and scientific, but unfortunately, so far everyone is working for outside markets. And our big companies depend on foreign programmes. In this regard, we have prepared a regional product under which we provide up to RUB 200 million at 1% for digitalization of industrial processes,» said Marina Petrova.

A discussion on the digital industry in the Far Eastern Federal District and the advanced socio-economic development of the Russian Far East will continue at the 7th Eastern Economic Forum, to be held in Vladivostok on 5–8 September.