Kremlin to Import Foreign ‘Brains’ for Technology Hub

Russia should set aside “false patriotism” and lure foreign specialists as it seeks to set up a high-technology center outside Moscow, said Vladislav Surkov, who’s advised the current and previous Russian presidents.

“We have to make it normal for people to come and work in Russia,” Surkov, first deputy chief of staff in President Dmitry Medvedev’s administration, said today at a parliamentary hearing before the first reading of the law to foster the development of a technology hub in the suburb of Skolkovo.

Russia, the world’s largest energy exporter, which shed scientists and engineers en masse after the Soviet Union collapsed, “should have as many foreigners working as possible,” Surkov said. “Import of brains” will be the main instrument of bringing the best talent to Skolkovo, he said.

Medvedev last week visited California’s Silicon Valley and urged U.S. companies to “actively partake” in an effort to establish the center. The president in March asked oil and metals billionaire Viktor Vekselberg to oversee the creation of a Russian Silicon Valley in Skolkovo, where tax breaks and other incentives will be offered to lure investment to spur innovation and production of high-technology products.

Vekselberg, TNK-BP executive director, said he will quit the BP Plc venture in Russia by the end of the year to focus on Skolkovo. He said he chose to chair the project because of the “serious challenge” it presented in bringing together business, the state and educational institutions.

Cisco Visit

In California, Vekselberg accompanied Medvedev who toured Cisco Systems Inc. (CSCO) in San Jose and Apple Inc. (AAPL) in Cupertino. Medvedev also visited Twitter Inc. (TWTR), the microblogging service with about 190 million visitors per month, and opened his own account.

Cisco, the biggest maker of computer-networking equipment, plans to invest $1 billion in Russia over the next decade on innovation and business development, including building offices in Skolkovo and increasing research, Chief Executive Officer John Chambers said on June 23 during Medvedev’s visit.

Vekselberg said today it will take s much as 60 billion rubles ($1.9 billion) of state and private investment over the next three years to get Skolkovo infrastructure up and running. Construction will begin at the end of next year, he added.

Deputy Economy Minister Stanislav Voskresensky said today companies selected for Skolkovo will get tax breaks even before the hub is completed. The breaks, including zero income and property taxes, have been agreed with the Finance Ministry, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Paul Abelsky in Moscow at pabelsky@bloomberg.net; Lyubov Pronina in Moscow at lpronina@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Willy Morris at wmorris@bloomberg.net.

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