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The German state of Bavaria’s minister president visited the Skolkovo innovation city Friday at the head of a delegation of representatives of Bavarian business to identify areas of cooperation between the two innovations hubs.
Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg (right) welcomes Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer to Skolkovo's Technopark on Friday. Photo: Sk.ru.
The group from Bavaria – Germany’s largest state and something of a startup magnet – came at the invitation of Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg, who welcomed the delegation to Skolkovo’s giant new Technopark.
“I remember well how six years ago there were just fields here, when we were first in contact,” said Bavarian Minister President Horst Seehofer, admiring the innovations city that has arisen on the site.
“We can see that the future of Russia is forming here. It’s our future, and we would welcome cooperation,” he said, adding that it was a “win-win situation” for companies to work in Bavaria and Russia.
Seehofer, who is chairman of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria political party (the Bavarian counterpart of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union), was accompanied by representatives of major companies present in Bavaria, including the heads of Airbus Helicopters in Germany and BAUER Maschinen.
“One of the most important principles of our project is its international nature,” said Vekselberg. “We have always believed that today, it’s impossible to exist in isolation from international scientific research, from international industrial corporations. We would like to have an international element in the form of capital, ideas, culture and knowledge – we are always open to any format of international cooperation. We’re delighted to see our German-Bavarian partners here and hope our cooperation will continue to develop.”
As one of Germany’s innovations powerhouses, Bavaria – the country’s second wealthiest state – is home to a strong startup ecosystem. In addition to more than 20 tech-focused incubators and acceleration programmes, the state hosts the facilities of corporate giants such as Siemens, BMW, Audi, Puma and Adidas, representing potential partners and customers for startups. There are also nearly 90 universities and research institutions in Bavaria.
Vekselberg accompanies Bavaria's economic affairs minister, Ilse Aigner, on a brief tour of the Technopark. Photo: Sk.ru.
Ilse Aigner, Bavaria’s minister of economic affairs and media, energy and technology, said she foresaw plenty of opportunities for cooperation, as Bavaria’s startup ecosystem broadly shares the same interests as Skolkovo’s five clusters: IT, biomed, energy, space and nuclear. Aigner suggested connections could be forged between Skolkovo and Bavaria’s business incubators.
Rupert Gerzer, the German provost of Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), presented the graduate research university to the delegates. Skoltech would like to open its first branch abroad in the Bavarian city of Munich, said Gerzer, adding that Skoltech professors are already working in collaboration with 30 universities and research institutes in Bavaria, including the Technical University of Munich.
Skoltech, whose classes are all taught in English, is home to many foreign students, but not yet any Germans, and would welcome Bavarian students, said Gerzer.
Alfred Gaffal, president of Bavaria’s Chamber of Trade and Industry, said Bavarian businesses are already in touch with Russian business organisations such as the Delovaya Rossiya union of entrepreneurs and Opora Russia, an NGO for small and medium-sized businesses.
“Sanctions will end one day, and so we continue to build up our contacts with Russia,” said Gaffal.
“We believe in the future, and that only if we work together can we form the future of Europe,” he said.