Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited the Skolkovo innovation city that he founded in 2010 during his tenure as president on Tuesday, where he inspected some of the tech startups supported by his brainchild project.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev watches RoboCV's driverless forklift truck in action. Photo:

Medvedev watched brief presentations by several startups at Skolkovo’s giant Technopark, including a demonstration of a driverless forklift truck made by RoboCV, before chairing a meeting of the presidential council on economic modernisation and innovative development. The head of government watched as the robotic truck manoeuvred swiftly and smoothly, moving stacks of boxes from pallet to pallet. Later, Trade and Industry Minister Denis Manturov and Telecommunications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov stood in front of the truck to test its obstacle detection function — which, fortunately for all concerned, stood up to the test. 

“Sixty years ago we put the first satellite in space. Today we want to amaze the world with our intellectual robots,” RoboCV’s general director Sergei Maltsev told Medvedev, explaining that as well as facilitating the automation of warehouse logistics, RoboCV also provides a cloud service that allows warehouse managers to monitor the exact location of any cargo at any given time.

The robotics company, a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation’s space cluster, is among the first Skolkovo residents to have moved into the innovation centre’s brand new Technopark, which offers resident startups office and lab space, as well as access to intellectual property protection and tax consultation, among other services. Its robotic trucks are already in use at Samsung and Volkswagen plants in Russia.

Medvedev also dropped in on a lecture for students of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) being given by Professor Dzmitry Tsetserukou, head of Skoltech’s robotics lab, where the prime minister was presented with a personalised bright orange smartphone case that students of the institute had made for him using a 3D printer. 

The prime minister was presented with a phone case made on a 3D printer by Skoltech students. Photo:

The other startups who presented their products to Medvedev included VGT, a platform for developing web apps with 3D graphics; Anisoprint, the maker of a 3D printer that uses composite materials rather than plastic, meaning its printed objects are much stronger than most 3D-printed items; Tvins Tekhnologii, which makes automatic systems for monitoring manufacturing equipment, and Datadvance, a platform for analysing data and optimisation.

Following his meetings with the startups, Medvedev opened the meeting of the presidential council on economic modernisation and innovative development. The meeting, which was attended by deputy prime ministers Arkady Dvorkovich and Dmitry Rogozin and several other cabinet ministers, along with scientists including Vladimir Fortov, president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, was devoted to setting out a roadmap for Technet, part of the National Technology Initiative aimed at creating the conditions for Russia to become a global tech leader by 2035.  

Medvedev later chaired an economic modernisation council meeting at Skolkovo's Technopark. Photo:

Medvedev said Russia had made good progress since the government first set up the commission for economic modernisation back in 2009.

“We have moved forward [in modernising the economy], and Skolkovo is a striking example of that,” the prime minister told the meeting. 

“A modern centre for commercialising technologies has been created here, with world-class infrastructure, including this Technopark we’re in now, which is the biggest in Europe,” he said.

“But that’s not the most important thing. It’s not the impressive buildings or the advantageous environment; it’s that the topic of innovations has stopped being exotic in our country and has become a trend, and that’s very important for the [modernisation] programme’s development,” he said.

Medvedev said the attitudes of state companies - who are now often the clients for the tech solutions offered by Skolkovo resident startups - had changed a lot from the “inertia” he encountered at that time, when they could not see why they needed to be innovative. 

“But it turns out that absolutely everyone needs innovations: big companies, state companies, private companies, and small and medium-sized enterprises,” said the prime minister.