A delegation of European investors, VCs, corporate partners and business angels visited the Skolkovo Technopark on Wednesday in search of promising startups as part of the Russian Tech Tour.

Skolkovo's senior vice president for innovations, Vasily Belov, addresses the Russian Tech Tour delegation. Photo: Sk.ru.

Tech Tour – an international organisation that aims to help innovative companies find investors across borders – only visits Russia once every four years. This time around, the delegation of European investors is visiting Moscow and Kazan.

“We believe that the Russian market is the largest market in the European context,” said William Stevens, CEO of the Tech Tour, at the start of its visit to the Skolkovo Technopark.

“That’s why, despite geopolitical issues, business and innovation needs to look at the global market, and Russia for sure is an important market, especially fintech and industry,” he said.

More than 100 startups applied to take part in the Russian Tech Tour, its organisers said. Twenty-five were then selected for presentations, of which about one third are resident startups of the Skolkovo Foundation, including ExoAtlet, Industrial Geodetic Systems R&DEnergolesprom, Playkey, Aeroxo and Skorista.  

William Stevens, CEO of Tech Tour, speaking at Skolkovo Technopark. Photo: Sk.ru.

“The fourth Russian Tech Tour represents a new model of communication with international investors for the Russian market, in that the companies presented on the Tech Tour have already passed through a tough selection process,” said Pavel Korolyov, president of the Russian Tech Tour and a founding partner of Pulsar Venture Capital.

The delegation comprised about one-third investors, one-third business consultants, and one-third representatives of investment banks who want to know what is happening on the Russian tech market and the Russian startup scene, Grigory Leschenko of Skolkovo’s investment department told Sk.ru.

“Mostly they invest $3-$5 million in late stage companies that are already making a profit and a product that can be sold on their European markets,” he said.

The investors were particularly interested in green technologies and the Internet of Things, said Igor Bogachev, head of Skolkovo’s IT cluster.

“For the Skolkovo Foundation, it’s really important to be on the radar of the foreign investment community, so we were extremely interested in a visit by such an impressive delegation,” he told Sk.ru.

The last time the Russian Tech Tour was held, it also visited the Skolkovo innovation centre. Back then, only one building had been completed: the Hypercube. Four years later, the delegation was deeply impressed by the giant Skolkovo Technopark, as well as by the level of state support for Russian hi-tech startups, said Leschenko.

In his opening address, Tech Tour CEO Stevens acknowledged there had been some discussion of whether to visit Russia at this time, in light of the country’s political tensions with much of Western Europe, but said the decision to come had undoubtedly been the right one.

“We would be foolish on the European side not to reach out and say that this is not only an important market for European companies; there are many great entrepreneurs, technologies and strategic partners for European companies, and this collaboration makes a lot of sense,” he said.