MANHASSET, NY -- Earlier this month the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Skolkovo Foundation signed a preliminary agreement to create the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (SIST) in Skolkovo, Russia.
They will next sign a three-year collaboration between them in early fall.
The Skolkovo Foundation is a nonprofit organization charged to create a new science and technology city in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo and is governed by a special law, which gives its residents special economic conditions for running their businesses.
The endeavor follows others. In the late 1950s, MIT helped create the Indian Institute of Technology (Kanpur). In 2007 MIT and Abu Dhabi announced the creation of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, a graduate educational and research institute. In 2008 and 2010, MIT and the government of Singapore announced two collaborative endeavors, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre and a formative collaboration between MIT and the Singapore University of Technology and Design.
MIT will assist the Skolkovo Foundation to build out SIST as a graduate research university. SIST is envisioned to connect international scientists to their peers in Russia, in an effort to help make SIST a global, collaborative project.
“MIT hopes through SIST to help plant the seeds of an innovation ecosystem in Skolkovo that will benefit the participating institutions—and the rest of the world,” said MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif, who signed agreement for MIT.
“MIT demonstrated an appreciation of the Russia of the future as well as its willingness to become an equal partner to the Foundation in accomplishing its mission of integrating Russian science and technology into the world economy,” said Victor Vekselberg, President of the Skolkovo Foundation.
SIST’s master’s and doctoral degree programs will be organized around the following four main studies: energy science and technology; biomedical science and technology; information science and technology; and space science and technology. Nuclear science and technology may be included in the energy program or constitute a separate program.
SIST’s proposed Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) will integrate education, research and practice in entrepreneurship and innovation, as applied to the research results of the SIST research centers.
MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation are beginning the process of searching for the key academic and administrative leadership for SIST.
Skolkovo, Russia's attempt at creating a flowering hi-tech educational, entrepreneurial and industrial base, is attracting several prominent Western entities, such as Siemens and GE. Earlier this month Russia's state-owned banking giant Sberbank said it will invest up to $800 million in Skolkovo and some 20 Russian companies received "residence" status there. And the tax laws have been eased for Skolkovo for companies investing there before 2014. All in all, given all the usual bureaucratic obstacles, do you think this will be a viable play to create a Silicon Valley in the Moscow region?