St. Petersburg International Economic Forum

21 June 2012

"....I was recently struck by a figure pointed out to me by Brian Dovey, the senior partner of Domain Associates. Previously, Brian had headed up the U.S. Venture Capital Association for a long time. He said that in the U.S. 12% of jobs have been created by venture capitalists and the companies into which they have invested  across various industry sectors. This is a big number!  I believe that this statistic could be of critical importance to any country, given the highly-paid, stimulating and knowledge-centric jobs these kinds of companies typically create. Just imagine that if Russia continues to actively foster the growth of innovative, knowledge-centric industries, up to 12% of paid employment opportunities in the Russian economy could be accounted for by jobs which disproportionately reward resourceful, entrepreneurial and smart individuals.

Another figure which grabbed my attention is the growth rate of investment in R&D in the U.S. for the 10 year period - from 1996 to 2006, which exceeded the national GDP growth rate in the same period by a factor of at least 2x.. When you drill into the numbers you can see that per capita investments in R&D in the U.S. constitute $ 100 and in tiny  Israel up  $ 300.These are the kinds of multiples that are only now beginning to emerge in an economy like Russia but the sustainability of this trendline can only be brought about by systematically putting into place the building blocks of a national innovation-facilitation infrastructure here in Russia to enable the Russian knowledge economy to grow and thrive..

Some elements of this infrastructure are already available in Russia. It is important that there are projects like Skolkovo, Rusnano, RVC, which now serve as incubators for creating knowledge and conditions for further transition of the entire country to the path of innovation. I would like to note once more, as I have already mentioned that these kinds of stand-alone initiatives for innovation development probably have temporary value at best and that strategically we should move from oases integrated national catalytic innovation-facilitation infrastructures

From my experience It is already clear that in order to develop innovative, fungible concepts of interest to venture investors, in other words concepts which manage to bridge the transitionfrom inventions to innovations and which are backed up by a solid and tangible intellectual-property estate or franchise as the transferable store of value underpinning the go-to-market ability of the innovation concerned, three specific preconditions must be fulfilled.

 First and foremost, the domestic market must present an attractive opportunity for the patent owner or venture funded entity’s products or services both in terms of scale/scope as well as in terms of its consumers willingness to champion the early adoption of totally new products and services. Creating a life sciences company, for example, in Russia with game-changing, innovative products and services where the Russian market presents no opportunity to build critical mass and the focus has to be on export is infinitely tougher than the scenario where the Russian market can serve as the launchpad for the products and services of this hypothetical life-sciences innovator and export opportunties can be addressed on the back of credible Russian sales numbers. This is not just an issue of the size of the economy but rather an issue of institutional barriers. It is no accident that the US and Switzerland, one a very large economy and the second a relatively small one are home to the vast majority of the world’s leading pharmaceutical brands and a large number of highly innovative start-ups. In both countries, pharmaceutical pricing is not controlled by government fiat in the vast majority of cases and both countries The second factor I would mention is strong and rigorously enforced patent and intellectual-property legislation. There are statistics that show that in countries with developed and protected patent law, 2.2% of GDP are invested in R&D, while in other countries - only 0.5% of GDP.Last but not least I would list the prevalence of freely  competitive markets as the final critical success factor. Especially in those countries that occupy pole position in the global rating tables for freely competitive business environmentssuch as Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and the U.S., very significant fixed assets are invested in the development of new products. If we take 100% of all such investments in Europe, Canada and the U.S., 85% will fall within the U.S., in part because the U.S. is ranked so much higher than most countries in terms ofthe availability of a freely competitive business environment and a level playing field. Competition, in effect, as practiced in the US affords an opportunity to sell a patent on the best available terms in the market. These kinds of business environments confer enormous advantages on venture funded entities seeking further funding opportunities or a profitable exit strategy".


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