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The founders and directors of Skolkovo resident startups make up nearly one-third of a list of “20 young and promising heroes of tomorrow” published by the RBC news agency’s magazine on Thursday.
Six of the 20 inventors and entrepreneurs described by the magazine as “working in breakthrough areas of business and creating a new economy” represent Skolkovo companies. All of the people included in the list are under the age of 35, and according to RBC, “have huge potential for growth.”
Right now, “they are severely underappreciated,” the list’s authors wrote.
Ekaterina Lengold, who was included on the list, speaking at Skolkovo's Technopark last autumn. Photo: Sk.ru.
The Skolkovo entrepreneurs included in the list were, in alphabetical order:
Nikita Chen-iun-tai, founder and CEO of Apis Cor, a mobile 3D printer that can print entire buildings in 24 hours. The company made international headlines when it printed its pilot project, a 38-square-metre house, in the Moscow suburb of Stupino earlier this year at a cost of less than $10,000. Apis Cor, a resident of Skolkovo’s energy cluster, has also opened a representative office in San Francisco, and plans to start serial production of its printers there.
Apis Cor first came to the attention of the Skolkovo Foundation last February in the company’s home city of Irkutsk, when it was one of the winners of the Irkutsk stage of the Startup Tour, Skolkovo’s roving quest for talented tech startups. Two months later, the company won a grant of 3 million rubles ($53,000) from Skolkovo in the final of the Technostart competition for industrial solutions, and soon after became a resident. In March this year, the company topped the best hardware startup category in the Startup of the Year awards.
Ilya Gelfenbein, the co-founder of Speaktoit (api.ai), a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster described by RBC as “a pioneer of the young chatbot industry.” In 2014, the chatbot company attracted $2.6 million in investment from a group of investors led by Intel. In 2016, Api.ai’s technology and team was bought up by Google on terms that were not disclosed.
Ekaterina Lengold, a graduate of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, and founder of ImageAiry, a resident of Skolkovo’s space cluster that describes itself as a marketplace for Earth observation services.
“We invented a system in which anyone – be they an agriculturalist or a land developer; anyone at all – could buy any image they needed of a particular area of the Earth taken by a satellite,” RBC quoted Lengold as describing her project to them back in 2015.
ImageAiry was later bought by the U.S. company Astro Digital, of which Lengold is now the vice president for development. Astro Digital plans to launch small commercial satellites into space to take images of the Earth’s surface.
Ivan Novikov, CEO of Wallarm, a cybersecurity startup that is a resident of Skolkovo’s IT cluster. The company uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to identify malicious requests received by web applications, combining the functions of a firewall and vulnerability scanner. Last year, Wallarm attracted $2.3 million in investment upon completing the prestigious Silicon Valley seed accelerator programme Y Combinator. The company has ambitious plans for the U.S. market.
In Russia, Wallarm already boasts the major search engine Yandex among its clients, as well as online retailer Ulmart and several banks and payment systems. It produces joint products together with the leading cybersecurity company InfoWatch and Qrator Labs, a fellow Skolkovo resident, and is also partnered with the web server NGINX, which is used by about 40 percent of the world’s top 1,000 websites.
Vitaly Ponomaryov, founder of WayRay, which produces Navion, a holographic navigation system for cars that uses augmented reality to project a virtual route onto the windscreen of the car. The company is also working on a dongle that it describes as a “personal driving coach” that will compile statistics on the driver’s performance and provide feedback on how to improve. Both systems are due out in 2017.
WayRay, a resident of Skolkovo’s advanced manufacturing, nuclear and space technologies, is headquartered in Switzerland with an R&D centre in Russia that employs more than 100 engineers. In the last 18 months, the company has raised $28 million in investment, including $18 million from a consortium headed by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
WayRay has also entered into a strategic partnership with Banma Technologies, which makes smart car solutions and is funded by Alibaba Group and China’s biggest automaker SAIC Motor, to create an advanced AR human-machine interface that integrates augmented reality navigation, driving assistance notifications, a virtual dashboard and more. The new system will be built into one of Banma’s 2018 car models, making it the world’s first vehicle in production with a holographic AR HUD (head-up display).
Lenar Valeev, one of the co-founders of Eidos Medicine, which makes surgery simulators designed to train surgeons and medical students. Eidos, a resident startup of Skolkovo’s biomed cluster that was founded in Kazan in 2012, has sold its training machines to Japan’s Juntendo university and the Irish medical company Covidien, according to RBC, as well as other centres and universities in the U.S., Europe, Asia and former Soviet countries. By 2015, the company had an annual turnover of more than $10 million. At the end of last year, it was listed in the TechUspekh rating of fast-growing Russian tech companies. It is currently working on a consumer gadget for the diagnosis of viruses.