Skolkovo Foundation

Can Moscow’s Skolkovo Innovation Centre really rival Silicon Valley?

The Skolkovo Innovation Centre hosted its annual Startup Village this week, a two-day celebration of Russia’s new tech and innovation community that’s being built from scratch on the outskirts of Moscow.

It was the culmination of a startup competition involving young entrepreneurs from 27 cities, with the ultimate winner taking home a 900,000 ruble investment.

The organisers put on a vibrant, welcoming event and I was impressed by enthusiasm on display from the young attendees even if some of the pitches were somewhat underwhelming.

The Startup Village had a typically techy ambience, with brightly coloured flags, beanbags, table tennis and quirky statues the order of the day.

It was a scene unlike any other I experienced during my brief stay in Moscow, though the dynamic, youthful atmosphere was broken momentarily on Tuesday when Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made a brief appearance with a discreet yet unnerving army of undercover police.