14 march 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on improving incentives for regional innovation in the Tomsk Region

Vladimir Putin

At a meeting on improving incentives for regional innovation

"We must facilitate regional innovation to the greatest possible extent and provide the regions with effective tools and incentives for its development."

Vladimir Putin's introductory remarks:

Good afternoon,

This January, Tomsk Region Governor Viktor Kress and I agreed to meet and discuss innovation development issues and the use of various incentives to facilitate this process. Now we are meeting here again, in the Tomsk Region, where many such promising plans and projects are already in advanced stages of development.

We have gathered here at the Tomsk special economic zone, which was established in 2005. Over 50 resident companies are currently registered here. The volume of stated investment in electronics, bio-engineering, IT systems, and nanotechnology projects exceeds 14 billion roubles. In essence, the region is moving to establish a powerful sector for innovation with broad potential for conducting R&D work, manufacturing, and marketing high-tech competitive products. This is precisely the kind of development infrastructure we frequently discuss.

Obviously, such regional projects generate successful economic modernisation and expanded business operations through the cost-effective use of knowledge-based resources. Moreover, it is my opinion that regions and municipal entities must become key players in the process of innovation development. A turn towards innovation is impossible at the sole expense of the federal government, separate projects and programmes. Minister of Economic Development Elvira Nabiullina and I have just assessed this process in general. It is developing rather successfully but the scale of this cost-effective process remains unimpressive. We must facilitate regional innovation to the greatest possible extent and provide the regions with effective tools and incentives for its development.

As I have already said, we have made some accomplishments over the past few years. By this, I mean special economic zones, the programme for establishing technology parks and business think tanks, as well as establishing a chain of federal and research universities catering to market demand. Why do we consider all these measures for supporting innovation development important?

First, these instruments of innovation development make it possible to restructure the regional economy and to facilitate economic growth, which is not dependent upon commodity production but rather upon the manufacture of value-added products in high demand on both domestic and foreign markets. This makes it possible to increase potential tax revenues in Russian regions and to expand their abilities to tackle social problems. The successful examples of the Kaluga and Lipetsk Regions, as well as the Republic of Tatarstan, can be mentioned in this regard.

Second, the operation of special economic zones, technology parks, and science cities must promote new and advanced production ethics, as well as cost-effective models for merging education, science, the economy, and business. Moreover, interesting experience in public-private partnership and attracting potential investors is being accumulated. These achievements must be used to improve the investment climate at both regional and national levels.

Third, we are creating additional incentives for promoting an active labour market policy. Such special zones for innovation make it possible to create cost-effective and well-paid jobs for people. They create demand for skilled human resources and personnel retraining centres. And, of course, it is particularly important to skillfully utilise them in those regions and cities with low economic diversification levels, where people's welfare often depends on one or two enterprises.

In all, 24 special economic zones and 13 science cities currently operate all over Russia. State-of-the-art technology parks have been developed in 12 regions. The state has already invested nearly 28.3 billion roubles in the infrastructure of such innovation zones – namely, in roads, production facilities, and laboratories. This year, the federal budget will allocate over 17.5 billion roubles towards all special zones, technology parks, and science cities. I would like to add that, considering the importance of the federal programme to establish state-of-the-art technology parks, we have decided to extend its duration to 2014.

Apart from budget investment in infrastructure, we have offered an entire range of tax and customs benefits to companies. For instance, the residents of special innovation development zones will pay no property or land tax. Profit tax rates have also been reduced. Moreover, we have stipulated a long-term transitional period as regards the payment of insurance premiums to social funds. They will pay just 14% until 2017.

I want to remind you that corporate profit tax rates now at 15.5% must be reduced to 13.5% in regions. Overall economic rates are 18%.

No customs duties and value-added tax (VAT) are charged on imported foreign goods being delivered to and used in such zones. The residents of technology parks are entitled to property tax and profit tax benefits.

About 530 resident companies, including foreign companies, are currently registered and operate in special innovation development zones and technology parks. The total volume of stated investment in special innovation development zones stands at about 170 billion roubles, while overall investment in special zones is 300 billion roubles. For instance, Swiss Corporation Novartis plans to establish a pharmaceutical cluster in the St Petersburg innovation development zone and to set aside over 15 billion roubles for this project. All R&D and testing projects will be conducted at specialised colleges, universities, and research institutes there. Innovation development zones are also operating successfully in Zelenograd and Dubna near Moscow.

The Technology Park of the Novosibirsk Academic Town, the Kazan IT Park, the Kuzbass Technology Park in Kemerovo, and the Western Siberian Innovation Centre in Tyumen are intended to support high-tech small and medium-sized businesses. At the same time, a number of problems are hindering the more cost-effective development of such zones, technology parks and science cities.

We must pay special attention to this. We have put in place all the basic infrastructure and incentives, but they are not operating smoothly enough. To be honest, they have not yet reached their intended capacity. True, they are still sufficiently young, and international and foreign experience implies that it takes far more time to reach design capacity than the deadlines we set. But we should move forward and expand these capacities.

On the whole, I believe that our meeting should conduct an inventory in this sphere, assess current investment barriers, propose the modification of legislation, and create additional incentives for businesses and regions actively striving to expand their innovation infrastructure. We need to search for effective models and solutions, study accumulated experience, and tackle problems that were not originally foreseen during the creation of such support programmes. This primarily implies an expanded social infrastructure and the solution of housing problems.

Ambitious ideas regarding the development of technology parks were proposed at the recent regional conference of United Russia in Bryansk. I had a little dispute with the minister of economic development there, as many of our colleagues surely noted. I agree that it makes sense to allow regions to incorporate money from private investors into their own contributions to the development of technology parks. Let us do so, and, if specialists think it expedient, we are ready to change our attitude towards these issues. As a whole, we have to think about how to attract private investment in the infrastructure of special economic zones and technology parks. Such projects can be both engaging and profitable.

We must also continue simplifying administrative and customs procedures, in particular by introducing electronic accounting and declaration of goods. Perhaps we have to attract specialised management companies. In any case, we have to start a dialogue with them and offer them positions as managers.

Next, I think that we should consider simplifying the procedure for giving small enterprises the status of a special economic zone resident, as they often find it hard to meet our requirements. Still, their role in the operation of special economic zones is potentially significant and could benefit both small businesses and the zones. In addition, it is necessary to simplify the remaining formalities that complicate the issuance of work permits for qualified specialists, including those from the CIS.

Today only top professionals with an annual wage of over two million roubles enjoy these simplified employment procedures. As we have already said, this level could be lowered to half a million or one million roubles.

As for the support for science cities, we should introduce competitive principles more actively to support projects aimed at creating in-demand technology and intellectual product. And, in general, we need to think how to support science cities because at present we render only moral support. We must develop a system of support measures. It may be not very costly to the budget, but, nonetheless, quite significant for science cities.

And finally, I propose to extend the lifespan of special economic zones. Today it is limited to twenty years. However, we understand that projects implemented in such zones are long-term, and we must enable businesses to plan their strategies and expenses over a longer period of time.

Let’s get to work.  I would like to hear from Elvira Nabiullina. Ms Nabiullina, please, go ahead.

Elvira Nabiullina: Mr Putin, colleagues, we have studied the projects of four innovation development zones at today’s exhibition. Still, as you have already said, this is not the only instrument to support innovative development in the regions. On the whole, the government and the regions have divided terms of reference as regards the support of innovations. This division is shown on the second slide (a paper version is also available). I would like to say that the federal authorities mainly support two areas of this work in the regions.

The first area is the development of infrastructure. I am referring to special economic zones, technology parks, and business incubators. The second area is support for planned innovation projects through established development institutions, such as Rusnano, Russian Venture Company, and Vnesheconombank and co-financing the programmes of federal science and research universities. These are the two areas we support. Support for innovation projects is not tied to the regions: it is provided proceeding from the logic and necessity of these projects. When supporting innovation infrastructure, we thus render support to the regions and municipalities and share considerable financial burden with them.

In recent years, we started actively financing this infrastructure, including co-financing zones and technology parks. Under the programme of support for small and medium-sized businesses, we also support regional initiatives for clustered development and the establishment of design and prototype centres.

As you have already mentioned, the influence of the established infrastructure on economic development and innovation is not very high. Without a doubt, there are questions about the efficiency of some zones and technology parks. This absence of a tangible effect can be explained by the small scale of the established infrastructure. It must be said that infrastructure facilities built at the initial stage often found themselves in a vacuum, as there were not even enough projects to support. These emerged along with the development of infrastructure. Now we are at a crucial stage – we need to analyze what we have managed to create, determine which elements are operating smoothly and which of them need to be improved.

As for special economic zones… the third slide shows 24 zones. It must be said here that in all countries these zones served as points of growth for a new economy – as an instrument that would help us rapidly explore and accumulate the most advanced production, technological, and management experience. The latter is also very important.

By way of example, I could mention countries that concentrated on developing such zones as part of their economic policy. In China, such zones are already producing more than half the GDP. This is a very significant share. China set up its first five special economic zones in 1980, that is, 30 years ago, and now they are playing a major role in its economic development. In China, the state made a big investment in infrastructure.

Singapore has about 20 innovative industrial production zones that account for 80% of its exports. Its economy is export-oriented, primarily through production in special economic zones.

The experience of these countries shows that it takes from 10 to 15 years for such zones to become effective. Compared with them, we started much later, but we have already made some progress. I’d like to demonstrate the performance of innovation development zones on slides 5 and 6. The latter shows the indicators of their performance.

These zones are continuously expanding the scale of their activities. These slides show their progress year on year. Currently, four zones have 200 residents and employ about 2,000 people. Significantly, these 2,000 people have highly qualified jobs, excellent educations, and high labour productivity. This is why progress has already been made… Despite the crisis – we all know that 2009 was a difficult year both for supporting infrastructure and launching new projects – this progress is generally there.

What was the main idea behind the development of special economic zones, including innovation development zones? Both Russian and foreign investors working in the Russian market have always had a high opinion of our education and engineering. But high administrative barriers and major costs were always in the way. So when we began these efforts in 2005, the government took measures to resolve these issues.

First, residents were allowed to pay low rent on land or buy it out at a nominal price. The government provided this land with engineering infrastructure facilities, and residents did not have to worry about their expense. The government also envisages tax and customs benefits. To simplify bureaucratic procedures the government centralised the issuance of permits and introduced a one-stop principle for residents trying to obtain them. This new system has started working, but there are still some bureaucratic problems that must be resolved.

In order to reduce investment risks, the government guaranteed the preservation of benefits for the entire operating period of the special economic zones, and we can see the results in terms of concrete projects. Slide 9 shows examples of such projects launched by investors in different areas – nano-, bio-, and medical technology and energy efficiency.

However, the implementation of such projects has revealed many additional exigencies. New problems have come up. The costs involved in building external infrastructure suitable for special economic zones were not taken fully into account, and now many zones are falling short on such infrastructure. We believe that we should make it our priority to fund the infrastructure of such zones through federal targeted programmes and investment projects. Otherwise, we won’t see the desired effect.

Second, the role of the local governments in implementing these projects has been largely underestimated. Sometimes, the centralisation of permits in a federal body costs residents more rather than less. A multi-leveled structure of management was established – including several levels of the government, regional authorities, and joint-stock companies, as well as complicated and excessive customs procedures that received numerous complaints. High-tech companies offering intellectual and other services, such as UHP gases for research centres or bio materials for pharmaceutical projects, did not have the right to receive the status of resident. We have faced this problem numerous times when working on the zones.

There is one more problem that we underestimated. As you have already mentioned, Mr Putin, this is the provision of housing and social facilities. When we started hiring employees for our projects, they appeared to be young people without any substantial savings. Needless to say, the construction of housing and social facilities became a priority issue. We looked at the experience of other countries – effectively working zones are above all those that boast well-developed social and housing infrastructure. 

There was one other issue that we resolved not long ago. The residents of the zones were not allowed to introduce what they had developed on a commercial scale. They had to look for other locations and infrastructure facilities in order to start production. The recently introduced amendments in the legislation now allow such residents to develop their projects and launch production [while remaining in the zones]. The system of managing the zones was also simplified. Some of the responsibilities were transferred to the regions. These were important steps.

We have not yet built enough housing for the residents. But the legislation already has a provision for simple procedures to use the land adjacent to the zones for the construction of housing for the residents. We should now elaborate a financial mechanism for such construction.

We are effectively working with the Federal Customs Service to simplify customs procedures. We believe that the customs infrastructure requirements in the zones should also be simplified because there are not yet many residents. The development of expensive infrastructure is not very practical. We believe that it would make sense at the outset of such projects to allow the customs clearance of goods – particularly equipment – at other customs clearance points. Such equipment is under our watch, and we know what types of equipment are required for any given project.

If we are to speak of the zones as a whole, then it is our opinion that we are at a crossroads at which the zones could remain limited instruments of economic development as they are currently.

But if we are to reach a level of development that would make a difference to the growth rate and the structure of the economy, we must broaden the scale these projects. This effort, in our view, involves two key areas.

First, we must actively involve professional management companies in the administration of these zones. As it is, we have joint stock companies that are beginning to work by  trial and error, and they are also responsible for building the infrastructure, attracting residents, and managing the zones. However, in our opinion it would make more sense to bring in new management companies, including foreign ones. We have previous experience in doing so.

The second point that needs to be discussed is as follows. In our opinion, we must expand these projects by creating a network of regional special economic zones. This approach has been used in China. Regional economic zones may even be created without funding from the federal budget. However, if a zone has been created according to certain norms and standards established at the federal level, it could be eligible for benefits and preferences that would bolster such zones. These are very important considerations.

I am not going to dwell in detail on slides 10-13, which deal with current problems. I have already mentioned some of them. There are some specific problems such as granting resident status to service companies, simplifying resident status for small companies, involving professional management companies, and simplifying customs procedures in several ways, including electronic declaration. I would merely like to stress the priority of building external infrastructure, such as roads, communications, and power supply, which are related to other programmes in the sector but need to be synchronised with the creation of special economic zones.

The next area, shown in slide 14, is technology parks. I won’t dwell on it in detail because Igor Shchegolev will be speaking on this topic. I would just like to make several points that are important for the general picture of supporting innovation in the regions because technology parks, as an instrument for development, are complementary to technical innovation zones. They occupy a different niche in supporting innovative businesses. They are more mobile, they are smaller, and comprise perhaps one or several buildings with rented space in a place where the appropriate transport, utilities, and social infrastructure already exists. True, they do not have enough space for creating high-tech production facilities, but it is nevertheless a very important niche. Today there are about 60 technology parks: some of them, a little over 10, were created under a programme called The Creation of High Technology Technoparks. Three other technology parks are being created as part of the small business support programme, and the rest are being created by the regions. In our opinion, the creation of such regional technology parks should also be expanded. That calls for standard schemes of management and instruments of federal support at the expense of the regions. We should think about extending some of the benefits available to special economic zones to these technology parks.

Now for science cities. Slide 15 shows the 13 science cities that exist today. In the Soviet times, science cities provided what is now called an innovative environment. They offered comfortable living conditions, a rich cultural life, educational opportunities, and a synthesis of science and high-tech production. At present, more than a million people work in science cities. In fact, this is an intellectual elite, and we have a chance to harness the potential of science cities towards the development of an innovative economy. However, our support for science cities is insignificant. We spend 600 million roubles on 13 science cities, so each city gets very little. We face a real alternative: either preserve the prestigious name of the science city without substantial financial support or toughen the criteria for conferring the status of a science city and then provide tangible support for those that make the cut in order to enable them to develop urban infrastructure, as well as the innovative infrastructure necessary for them to develop properly.

Some additional thinking is necessary to determine sources of funding for such infrastructure support. The resources of our development institutions such as the VEB and Investment Fund can be tapped. The newly created Regional Economic Stimulus Fund could be an additional source of funding for such cities. Considering budget constraints, the available resources should be restructured to give priority to science cities. In addition to science cities (a major instrument), we have other instruments to spur innovation in the regions. The regions, for instance, are setting up clustered development centres. The amount of funding in ten regions is thus far not large (227 million roubles), but the projects are getting off the ground.

In addition, a programme of regional venture funds in support of small business has been implemented since 2005. Investments have been provided for these regional venture funds, but it has to be said that some of them are more effective than others. We have started joint work with the Russian Venture Company (RVC) in order to alter the principles on which regional venture funds operate and turn them into instruments for supporting innovative projects at the regional level.

Our development institutions may provide additional backing for the regional authorities. In 2010, our development institutions such as Rusnano, RVC, and VEB signed agreements on coordinating activities that have been dubbed “innovative lifts” (slide 18), which make it possible to finance projects without interruption from the moment of conception until they enter the market. Such an agreement produces a tangible synergy effect. We can observe this in the zones. For example, Rusnano has already financed 22 projects in technical innovation zones. RVC funds are also beginning to finance these projects, resulting in a synergy effect.

To conclude, I would like to stress what I think is a very important point that needs further study. I am referring to mechanisms for stimulating the innovative development of the regions through the Regional Economic Stimulus Fund and giving higher priority in our federal targeted programmes to supporting such regions.

Many of those present have questions. How are we going to select these regions? What exactly is “an innovative region”? I don’t think we should be deterred by the lack of formalised criteria, although they can be developed because we already have initiatives from the bottom. The innovative regions have created an Association of Innovative Regions in order to discuss and exchange positive experience. I think we should use their activities as a springboard in order to support them. Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. Igor Shchegolev, please.

Igor Shchegolev: Mr Prime Minister, colleagues,

We see technology parks as a point of transferring ideas into technology, and technology into business solutions. They are intended to provide a mechanism for the quick and easy commercialisation of the most advanced ideas.

The network of technology parks is an innovative business environment that consolidates the regions’ scientific potential. It is here that science, business and, ideally, venture capital, will come together in the most effective manner. We attract young specialists from the region where a technology park is based as well as from other regions and from abroad. The project for technology parks is yet another measure to develop the regions, since it helps to create more jobs and increase tax revenues.

The government adopted a programme for technology parks in 2006, and provided the first disbursement of funding in late 2007. The first and second phases of the project were finished by 2010. We have selected projects and carried out the necessary preparations for them, in particular by building the infrastructure. Then we embarked on the construction of the facilities.

The federal government provided over six billion roubles in subsidies to regions. In 2011, we embarked on the third phase. Now we need to finish the construction of the first projects, get new participants involved, expand the network, and generally, adopt the best practices and strengthen the ties between technology parks. The last aspect is particularly important for economic modernisation. These projects are not just a set of disintegrated initiatives, rather we are developing a cohesive infrastructure in the hope that this will bring a substantial synergetic effect.

Next slide, please. We have already built technology parks in Tyumen, two in Tatarstan – IT Park and Khimgrad, as well as parks in the Novosibirsk and Kemerovo Regions. By summer, we plan to finish the technology park construction in Mordovia. In the next phase, we will continue working with the ongoing projects in St Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, as well as the Novosibirsk, Kaluga and Kemerovo Regions. We will take full advantage of the technology and scientific potential of these regions in order to increase the effectiveness of these projects.

Finally, when moving on to the third phase, the government approved a list of technology parks to be developed in the Samara Region, in the Togliatti area. One of the challenges addressed through this project is the diversification of the economy of this single-industry town. The rest of the technology parks will be located in Penza and in the Tambov Region, where the project will be carried out without the federal government’s financial support. We expect that the very fact of its participation in a federal targeted programme will help this region attract residents and additional funds.

The list of the regions with the necessary technology potential is certainly not limited to the regions currently on the programme. The other regions with this potential are the Krasnoyarsk and Primorye Territories, as well as the Belgorod, Kaliningrad, Moscow, Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk Regions.

Next slide, please. This shows the development dynamics. This is how the figures increased over the second phase:  in 2010, the number of residents grew by 49%, amounting to 407 companies. The aggregate cost of the products manufactured at technology parks increased threefold, from seven billion roubles to 22 billion. The figures in the right-hand column show that residents’ profits neared 30 billion roubles, while the federal government invested only six billion roubles in the projects. So it’s five roubles in profit for each rouble of state investment. And we expect to double this figure, reaching the 100 billion roubles target by 2014.

We have attracted about three billion roubles of off-budget investment, which is investment provided from sources other than the federal or regional budgets. A part of this amount went towards infrastructure, and 1.3 billion roubles were invested directly in the projects. According to the legislation, regional governments can grant companies operating at technology parks tax and non-tax privileges, and most of the regions have done so, significantly relieving residents of this burden.

Next slide, please. I’d like to say a few words about the priorities of technology parks. These overlap with the main priorities of our economic modernisation plan and include energy efficiency, energy conservation, space technology, in particular the GLONASS project, telecommunications, ground-based infrastructure and medical biotechnology. A major priority is certainly information technology since it takes a relatively small amount of investment to start an IT business and make progress quickly. And some of our companies have substantial successes to report, which has been recognised internationally. Next slide, please.

There are, for example, several interesting start-ups in Novosobirsk. That is a software-hardware complex for the automation of operational and technical units and plasma chemical technologies. In Nizhny Novgorod, there are thermoelectric cooling modules; in Tatarstan there is a software product for coordinating GLONASS-112 emergency services and another one for monitoring the performance of public institutions. In Mordovia, projects have been set in motion to develop next generation broad-zone silicon carbide semi-conductors, and fibre-optic production is already underway. In the Tyumen Region, for obvious reasons, they are working to improve the efficiency of oil extraction and refining. In the Kemerovo Region, they are working on mine safety and biotechnologies, notably those aimed at enhancing mine safety and cleaning up in the event of mine disasters.

The priority development of high-tech healthcare products is also beginning to see progress. In Novosibirsk, they are producing a line of tests for donor blood that are being widely used in blood transfusions. In the Kemerovo technology park, they are developing bioprosthetics through tissue regeneration and emergency diagnostics.

As I said, the programme has been extended to 2014. The list of regions has been approved. Here are the figures of investments in new technology parks and in the development of existing ones. At a third stage, we are planning to invest another 6 billion roubles, matching our investment in the first two.

As I have said, the total monetary volume of products and services is to increase to more than 100 billion roubles and the number of jobs to 16,000. Technology parks are on their way to the organised development of innovative products. The mechanisms for selecting projects and companies, attracting venture investments, and providing consulting and marketing support is being perfected. The ministry is gathering this experience and plans to organise a competence centre to ensure their further development. The general requirements that are being worked out for technology parks include the existence of a business incubators, a multi-purpose administrative complex, laboratory and production premises, prototype centres, and some other elements that are optional – and I will touch upon this when I come to discussing the creation of a general environment for our technology parks. I would like to say that it is important that the environment we are creating should not be isolated from other ongoing processes in the country.

Thus, great benefits may accrue from spreading the model that is currently being adopted for the Skolkovo innovative centre to technology parks nationwide. Some projects pursued at technology parks fully qualify for the same preferences that Skolkovo residents will enjoy.

Of course, we agree with the suggestion of the Ministry of Economic Development to study the possibility of conferring the same benefits on the residents of technology parks that are available to residents of technical innovation zones. One attractive idea is to reduce insurance premiums or grant a transitional period because there is also a large share of human capital and salary funds involved. Such benefits would attract new residents, but Dmitry Verkhovod (Director General of Novosibirsk Academic Town Technopark) will have more to say about it. Would-be residents are already queueing up for some technology parks where filling vacancies at new sites is no longer a problem. In other words, this mechanism is already working.

We are planning to expand the experience of creating expert panels. Such panels already exist in some regions and ensure interaction with regional higher education and research institutions – notably national research centres. More than 117 start-ups have been involved in such projects. We see good prospects in developing relationship between technology parks and science cities because such a relationship would foster their potential growth. Besides, as we see, it requires considerably less investment than technical innovation zones, and the returns may be fairly quick.

With regard to interaction with national research universities, such agreements have already been signed in the Kemerovo, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, and St Petersburg regions, as well as in Tatarstan and Mordovia.

We are also working on developing public-private partnerships. For instance, we are contemplating the possibility of private funding being included in regional government investments. At present, we provide co-financing on the basis of parity with the region, but if we include private investments in the regional share, it would greatly facilitate and accelerate the appearance of new technology parks, as our experience and dialogue with many regions has shown.

Vladimir Putin: I don't quite understand. Do the benefits connected with deductions to social funds apply to all entities?

Igor Schegolev: Not yet.

Elvira Nabiullina: They do apply to technical innovation zones…

Igor Schegolev: But not yet to technology parks.

Elvira Nabiullina: There, they apply only to IT companies.

Igor Schegolev: Yes, only to IT companies.

Vladimir Putin: We are not talking about large amounts of money here.

Igor Schegolev: Yes, of course. Up to 16,000 jobs.

Vladimir Putin: Mr. Siluanov (Anton Siluanov is Deputy Finance Minister of the Russian Federation), what does the Finance Ministry have to say about this idea?

Anton Siluanov: We are actually considering cutting the insurance premium to 26% for small enterprises. The issue will be further discussed by the government.

As for spreading the reduced rate of 14% to technology parks, we are ready to consider it. For the budget, this is absolutely not an issue. We should see what the effect would be. I think that is a realistic proposition.

Vladimir Putin: Please, do the calculations together with the other ministries and agencies, first and foremost with the Economic Development Ministry, and submit your formal proposals.

Anton Siluanov: Very well.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

* * *

Vladimir Putin's closing remarks:

I’ll reiterate what has already been mentioned. In 2005, a law on free economic zones was passed. In 2006, we talked, and, I think that in 2007 our company Rusnano already started functioning as one of the pillars of support in this area of ​​innovative development. And, of course, it is totally unacceptable to ignore what was already developed in Soviet times, by which I mean the innovative platforms in the form of today's science cities. And if this potential is indeed underutilised, then it is certainly something that we should focus on.

We are gathered today to take inventory, to see how our earlier-made decisions are put into practice, what's missing and what we need to focus on. And all of your suggestions, of course, will be summarised. We shall lay them down in the minutes of today's meeting and then they will be incorporated into specific assignments for government agencies, so that all of what we discussed today and focused on will be translated into real life.

I've also talked about the fact that not much time has passed, since all of these projects are fairly large-scale and two, three, four or even five-six years is sometimes not enough to appreciate the full effect. But what is clear today? That the decisions made in 2005-2007 were absolutely correct. The only issue now is how to improve our support measures and strengthen our efforts to this end.

Thank you very much.