The Russian Startup Tour gathers pace this week with a visit to Nizhny Novgorod, where 29 finalists are to compete for places at June’s Startup Village and a special guest will provide a glimpse into the future of the automobile industry.

Nizhny Novgorod in winter. Photo:

Running Tuesday and Wednesday, the Nizhny Novgorod stage is the third on this year’s tour, which has already called in on Rostov-on-Don in the south and the Siberian city of Tomsk.

"Russia needs startups now more than ever before," said Skolkovo's Pekka Viljakainen, advisor to the foundation's president Victor Vekselberg, in opening remarks at the Nizhegorodskaya Yarmarka exhibition center. 

Evgeny Lyulin, the deputy governor of Nizhny Novgorod, noted: "I believe that the Startup Tour will help participants gain new knowledge to create new technology."

Pekka Viljakainen in Nizhny Novgorod. Photo:

"Modern enterprises need an injection of innovations," Lyulin said. "We'll do everything in our power to bring new technologies to life at Nizhny Nogvorod firms."

As usual, the two-day event is split into the educational section and the pitch competition, with the headlining panel session – “Transport of the Future” - led by Bo Andersson, the Swedish CEO of Russia’s biggest carmaker, AvtoVAZ.

Skolkovo’s senior vice president for innovations, Vasily Belov, recently told that the auto giant is exploring ways of becoming part of the Skolkovo ecosystem.

Another highlight in Nizhny Novgorod is a seminar Tuesday by Kendrick D. White, the vice-rector for innovation at the Lobachesvky State National Research University of Nizhny Novgorod. White is an experienced entrepreneur in Russia with particular expertise in commercializing early-stage.

'Russia needs startups now more than ever before' - Pekka Viljakainen

The projects competing for a place at the Startup Village, meanwhile, are split into four tracks: IT, efficient energy, biomed and new industrial technologies and materials.

Nizhny Novgorod is a city of a million people roughly 400km east of Moscow. In Soviet times it was known as Gorky in honor of the socialist realist writer Maxim Gorky. Nowadays it is a renowned IT hub, with 25 scientific R&D institutions and other research facilities belonging to the likes of computer giant Intel.

It is the last event of the tour in February. Next month sees four stages including the tour’s first foray outside Russia, to Almaty in Kazakhstan on March 19-20.