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Is Russia ready to build a nanotech industry?

Posted: 09 Oct 2009  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Russia nanotech  nanotechnology  Russia investment 

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev wants to move full speed ahead in developing a nanotechnology industry to weed the country from its dependency on profits from its vast oil and gas natural resources.

In an address to the International Nanotechnology Forum, held in Moscow, Medvedev emphasized that Russia "has all the intellectual, organizational and financial resources necessary to become a leader in nanotechnologies."

That is well-known sentiment. The question is what are the concrete steps needed for private business to tap the resources in a constructive manner for both them and their Russian partners.

Medvedev claimed that Russia has the world's largest government investment program in this field. By 2015 it will have allocated 318 billion rubles (more than $10.5 billion) to the program, and sales for Russia's nanotechnology industry are expected to reach 900 billion rubles, according to Medvedev.

In his address to a friendly audience, Medvedev again called for the government to "make the necessary changes in legislative, tax and customs regulations," for private businesses to invest in the government program.

However, true to the thinking process of many Russian leaders, Medvedev said Russia "needs a system of state orders for the long-term procurement of innovative products as well as an up-to-date system of national standards."

The task of developing a Russian nano industry is onerous.

Estimates indicate Russia needs between 100,000 and 150,000 new nano workers. To that end, Medvedev would like to facilitate the return of Russian researchers who fled the country in the 1990s after the demise of the Soviet empire. Medvedev called for "creating favorable conditions for their scientific activities."

That will take more than money.

The new innovations should be created by small and midsized businesses, said Sergei Mazurenko, head of the Federal Science and Innovations Agency, in an interview with The Moscow Times.

If the conditions are set for private business to be engaged, Western nanotech experts will surely want to explore common interest in nanotech research.

Lofty goals are again set.

"I fully support the funding program that will be in force until 2015, but beginning from 2016 the state should abandon funding and private capital should seize the initiative by that time," said general director Anatoly Chubais of Rusnano.

Earlier this year Chubais met with bankers to solicit loans for nanotech projects.

At the Moscow forum, Chubais and Sberbank chief German Gref signed an agreement under which the state-owned bank will provide 45 billion rubles ($1.5 billion) in loans.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times





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