MANHASSET, NY Former Intel executive Craig Barrett has agreed to co-chair the Advisory Board of Management of a new Russian venture to build out a Silicon Valley-type community near Moscow.
According to reports from Russian news services, Barrett will share the chairmanship with 2006 Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry Roger Kornberg and 2000 Nobel Prize winner in physics Zhores Alferov.
Barrett has a Ph.D in Materials Science from Stanford University. In 2008 he received the honorary title of Doctor of the Novosibirsk University during a ceremony in Akademgorodok, for the cooperation between Intel and the Siberian university
Russian president Dmitry Medvedev hopes the three luminaries will "raise international interest to the project," according to the reports.
The Innovative Center is to be in Skolkovo, a town near Moscow.
"A center in Skolkovo is the engine of forming an innovative system in the country," said Medvedev.
Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg of the Renova Group has been asked to create the Innovative Center in Skolkovo and is the president of the project's Management Fund.
Skolkovo won its place for the center over major Russian research hubs including Novosibirsk, Tomsk, St. Petersburg and several established research hubs in the Moscow region.
Skolkovo, in the western section of Moscow's Belt Road, is planned to be a tech business incubator along the lines of Silicon Valley. It is located on the River Setun, and has riverside space for a range of "start-up companies, labs and even university campuses", according to reports.
The Skolkovo venture has more ambitious plans than to be a hub for chip design and fabrication.
The scope of work includes research and development in energy, nuclear electricity, telecommunications, IT, medical and biotechnologies.
The Russian government believes that after three to seven years of guidance by the state Skolkovo can start growing on its own.
Skolkovo's Vekselberg has convinced president Medvedev to pledge unprecendented for Russia privileges for companies to be part of Skolkovo, including for Skolkovo residents to "pay no profit tax, VAT [value-added tax] or property tax for ten years," according to the reports.
The Russian government will provide housing for 30,000 residents.
With a shaky track record of past ventures to build out entrepreneurial-driven hi-tech parks, Medvedev is counting on Vekselberg, a successful businessman rather than a bureaucrat, and has reportedly pledged that Skolkovo will avoid the kickbacks common in state projects.
"Corruption is a big problem for Russia, but I believe Skolkovo will be able to escape from that environment," said Medvedev.
Medvedev himself is said to help draw up the bill creating the project to be presented to the Russian parliament this month.