Russia moved up to 35th place in the Doing Business 2018 report released by the World Bank, five places up from its previous position.

The Skolkovo Technopark offers a range of services to small tech startups with the long-term aim of modernising the Russian economy and diversifying it away from a dependence on energy exports. Photo:

Russia’s new ranking puts it ahead of many EU countries, including Belgium and Italy, and one ranking below Japan.

The Doing Business report looks at factors such as starting a business, dealing with construction permits, paying taxes, registering property, getting credit, and trading across borders. In the last year, Russia has introduced regulatory reform that makes those last three easier, the report said.

“Russia made exporting and importing easier by opening a new deep water port on the coast of the Gulf of Finland, increasing competition and reducing the cost of border compliance at the Port of St. Petersburg. This reform applies to both Moscow and St. Petersburg,” the World Bank wrote in its Russia report, which measures conditions in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In 2012, President Vladimir Putin ordered the government to improve Russia’s Doing Business ranking, setting it the goal of reaching 20th place by 2018. Back then, Russia was listed 120th. Together with some other countries, Russia has set up a special programme to improve its rating under the Doing Business methodology.

"The goal is not, of course, a position in the rating; it’s growth in the investment activity of small and medium-sized enterprises, and growth across all the country’s regions." - Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin.

Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin told Putin this week that a range of reforms that Russia had introduced were not yet reflected in this year’s rating, and expressed hope that next year’s position would be significantly higher, the TASS news agency reported.

New Zealand retained the top spot in the ranking for the second year running, followed by Singapore, Denmark, South Korea and Hong Kong. A total of 190 countries are covered by the report.

The Doing Business project, launched in 2002, looks at domestic small and medium-size companies and measures the regulations applying to them through their life cycle.

One of the aims of the Skolkovo Foundation is to facilitate the development of small innovative companies and startups. Resident startups of the Skolkovo innovation centre can access help with tasks such as registering their property rights, prototyping and raising investment. They are also entitled to tax breaks and can apply for grants to develop their businesses or carry out R&D.

“The goal is not, of course, a position in the rating; it’s growth in the investment activity of small and medium-sized enterprises, and growth across all the country’s regions,” TASS cited Oreshkin as saying.

Skolkovo launched three new investment funds earlier this year known as Skolkovo Ventures, devoted to IT, industrial technology and biotech.

“Innovations are the fuel of the economy,” said Kirill Kaem, senior vice president for innovations of the Skolkovo Foundation. 

“However, if conditions in the country for technology development centres aren’t configured to economic efficiency, or are bureaucratic or uncompetitive, then there is a major risk that technology will be lost to other countries. It’s impossible to build an innovative economic model in any given innovation centre on its own; systemic changes are required. This is precisely why simplifying and streamlining business operations in Russia, as confirmed by the Doing Business rating, makes it significantly easier to introduce innovations to the real sector of the economy.”

For Skolkovo, issues of intellectual property protection are particularly important, said Kaem. 

“We believe that it is the improvement of this factor that will be the driving force behind an improved position for Russia in the Doing Business rating during the next few years, and are making every effort to achieve this,” he told