A large delegation of businessmen, academics and representatives of business and innovations agencies from Cyprus visited the Skolkovo innovation centre on Friday, a day after the Skolkovo Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency (Invest Cyprus).

Maxim Romanov (left), head of international cooperation at the Skolkovo Foundation, and Kyriacos Kokkinos of Invest Cyprus talk during a meeting at the Skolkovo Technopark on Friday. Photo: Sk.ru.

Under the MOU, the two sides will organise business missions and meetings in order to facilitate joint projects in areas including energy efficiency, information and communication technologies, biomed and industrial technologies. Skolkovo will provide consulting services for Cypriot companies seeking to enter the Russian market, and vice versa. The implementation of various forms of cooperation will be overseen by a working group, said Kyriacos Kokkinos, a board member of the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency who signed the MOU.

“I think what we signed yesterday creates an imperative to deliver what is on paper,” Kokkinos said at the Skolkovo Technopark on Friday at a meeting between Skolkovo representatives and about 20 representatives of Cypriot businesses, academic institutions and other organisations.

Kokkinos and Oleg Dubnov, head of Skolkovo's energy cluster, shake hands on the signing of the MOU on Thursday. Photo: Sk.ru.

Kokkinos proposed holding meetings every two months to check what has been done to ensure that the MOU becomes more than a statement of intent, and said he looked forward to welcoming a delegation from Skolkovo to Cyprus as an “interim checkpoint” to develop tangible initiatives.

“The interests of both sides are mutual; our side is much smaller, but our appetite and determination to leverage beyond the sun and sea and tourist destination that we are in Cyprus is evidenced by the presence of all these people here,” he told the meeting.

Leena Abu-Mukh Zoabi, a manager within the Skolkovo Foundation’s international cooperation department, echoed Kokkinos’ determination to turn the MOU into action.

“I hope this MOU will pave the way for more intensive cooperation and I hope for joint efforts to execute this MOU for really resonant promotion for both sides,” she said.

Friday’s visit was the second by the Cyprus Investment Promotion Agency to Skolkovo, though the first with a delegation, noted Kokkinos. The Russian innovations city, which was conceived in 2010, is “very impressive,” he said.

“All of this miracle – because to us, this is a miracle; congratulations – happened in less than seven years,” he said.

The Cypriot delegation included Dr. Michalis Yiangou, associate vice president for operations of the Cyprus Institute, which earlier signed an MOU with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech).

Thursday’s MOU was signed on behalf of Skolkovo by Oleg Dubnov, head of the foundation’s energy efficiency technologies cluster. Energy is an area in which there is plenty of room for cooperation, Oleg Pertsovsky, the cluster’s operational director, told the delegation. There are potential points of cooperation with Cyprus in all three focus areas of the energy cluster: the oil and gas sector; power generation, transmission, distribution and accumulation; and end-use energy efficiency in housing, utilities and energy-intensive industries, said Pertsovsky.

Under the MOU, Skolkovo will support Cypriot companies seeking to open an office inside the Skolkovo innovation city. In turn, Invest Cyprus will support Russian companies aiming to establish a presence there. The Mediterranean country now issues startup visas that enable Russian entrepreneurs to go and work there for three years, noted Dr. Panayiotis Philimis, president of the Association of Cyprus Research and Innovation Companies. The country has the highest level of involvement in small and medium-sized enterprises per capita in the whole of Europe, and also has twice as many innovation funds as the European average, he said.