Moscow is moving up the rankings of cities favorable to startups and will soon be one of the world's top three locations in terms of the number and quality of startups, infrastructure, business climate and public acceptance of innovations, said Alexey Parabuchev, CEO of the Moscow Agency of Innovations at an event at the Digital Business Space (DBS).
The Russian capital is home to 4,500 startups and more than 25,000 innovative infrastructure facilities, including technology parks, coworking spaces, and hi-tech manufacturing sites. Globally recognized IT companies such as Kaspersky Lab, ABBYY, Yandex, Acronis, and Mail.ru Group have their headquarters here. A major contributor to the city's success is the Digital Business Space (DBS), Moscow's go-to place for all things innovation.
The venue is a top-notch space created by the Moscow Agency of Innovations to boost the quality of the local innovation ecosystem. Its successful operation helps strengthen the city's profile in international innovation and technology rankings. Hundreds of events are held at the DBS annually. They bring together well-known Russian and international entrepreneurs, experts and opinion leaders to discuss current local and international trends and developments in business and technology. Moscow occupies a prominent place in global innovation rankings largely due to the opening of the DBS, where entrepreneurs communicate and share innovative business ideas. This place often hosts events, the main purpose of which is to help entrepreneurs get support from the city administration.
This year, Moscow moved up from 14th to 10th place in the latest ranking of cities with the best ecosystems for startups, published by the international information and analytical portal StartupBlink.
The compilers of the ranking take into account parameters such as the number and quality of startups, infrastructure, business climate and public acceptance of innovations. Moscow has overtaken recognized development leaders in this area, including Beijing, Bangalore, New Delhi, Tokyo, Paris, Austin, Toronto, and Amsterdam.
The top cities in the 2019 ranking are mainly in California, including the Silicon Valley area and Los Angeles. Among other leaders are New York, Boston, Chicago, Seattle, London, Berlin, and Tel Aviv.
"Competition among the top 50 cities in the ranking is very tough, and the top 10 places are held by the strongest traditional leaders. Moscow is the only new city in the top 10 compared to the previous ranking compiled in November 2017, having overtaken Paris. Moscow's innovation ecosystem continues to develop rapidly, and the city is fully capable of progressing to 6th place in the ranking by 2021. To achieve this, it will have to overtake cities like Seattle, Chicago, Berlin and Tel Aviv. The next target, which can only be achieved through the concerted efforts of business, the city and innovators, is to take 3rd place behind the undisputed leaders of San Francisco and New York, but ahead of London," said Parabuchev.
"The city will continue to work on ensuring that Moscow startups get timely information about where precisely their developments can be deployed. We will be running hackathons, in which teams will seek solutions for real issues faced by the city and business. We hope that many of those who take part in the hackathons will go on to create their own companies", noted Parabuchev.
Moscow's innovative infrastructure will continue to expand. The number of coworking spaces is growing rapidly, and the city is hoping to turn them into a "breeding ground" for startups. The Russian capital has 36 technology parks for high-tech companies and plans to open yet another one for entrepreneurs in creative industries.
In two years since launch, this futuristic-looking venue has hosted over 700 events attended by a total of over 10,000 people. One of such events was Telling Stories 2019, a festival of creative industries and media, headlined by the British journalist Oobah Butler. Before becoming a gathering spot for discussions on disruptive technologies, the building, located at 47 Pokrovka Street, had a long history.
It was constructed in 1977 as a movie theater, for which its architects were later honored with a state award. The facade of the building was clad with Crimean limestone of the Paleogene period. Next to the entrance stood an eight-ton anchor, a relic of World War II. Throughout its history the building served a variety of purposes and in 2017 was reconstructed to become the Digital Business Space.
The large-scale revamp completely changed the inside and outside of the building. Today, its facades are fitted with wide-format media screens. Thanks to the fiber optic light-transmitting concrete developed by the Russian company Illuminart, the facades can also change color.
On entering the building, the visitor finds him/herself in the reception area with touch panels and LED navigation columns. The second floor has seven small conference rooms and a large 640-seat auditorium. The latter is equipped with the largest in Russia4K screen and a unique sound amplification system from the American company Meyer Sound. Thanks to the system, audience members soon will be able to freely communicate with speakers on stage, without the need to use microphones. Other amenities include an elevator for disabled people, capsules for working and resting, and a coworking space with smart desks and a soundproof booth for internet calls.
"With the advent of the digital age, Moscow became home to a community of innovators who needed a space to discuss projects, launch pilots, and search for partners. That's why we set ourselves a task to create such a focus point to freely localize all breakthrough ideas. Our concept has been realized at several levels – in the building's design and equipment, in large-scale events, and in a hub for testing innovations," says Alexei Parabuchev, CEO at the Moscow Agency of Innovations.
According to him, the DBS has become a center of gravity that increases the density of ties in the innovation community and, on par with networking hubs in the Silicon Valley, accelerates the growth of innovative companies. Moreover, the DBS has become a key tool that turns Moscow into a "playground," where entrepreneurs can get guidance on the local innovation infrastructure and find a coworking space, an accelerator, or production capacities. Here they can also get feedback on their products or services and discuss collaboration with large public and private companies.
The Digital Business Space has become a flagship venue for piloting innovations. Dozens of advanced solutions have been tested here, including a light-transmitting concrete, a kick scooter rental service, an antibacterial fabric, a smart mirror, a biometric identification system and others.
For example, at the DBS was tested an innovative air-purifying system Tiokraft, the only air purification and disinfection device in the world that provides simultaneous mechanical filtering for all types of viruses, bacteria, mold spores and volatile organic compounds (including poisonous ones) followed by their complete decomposition under the ultraviolet light. Аfter successful test Tiokraft cleaners were purchased by the State Duma of Russian Federation, the government-owned сorporation Rusnano, Panasonic, SCC (Germany), ChemproControl (Germany), G.E. Constraction (Greece) and Gia Nguyen High-Tech JSC (Vietnam).
Alexei Parabuchev believes that the DBS can provide serious support to the local community and help Moscow become a global leader in terms of the innovation infrastructure.
"The DBS works like a machine: it consolidates the innovations market, helps startups get support from the city, experts, and corporations," says he. "It helps startups get on the radar of international organizations, such as TechCrunch, and respectively promotes Moscow as a global tech center."