9 december 2011

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Andrei Nikitin, General Director of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI)

The ASI general director said the Agency was starting on projects in housing and utilities and in the social sphere. Particular attention was paid to the establishment of the so-called Leaders’ Club for the most promising representatives of small and medium-sized businesses. This implied primarily those not involved in the production of raw materials.

Transcript of the beginning of the meeting:

Vladimir Putin: Mr Nikitin, how is your Agency progressing? How are you doing with your current projects? Earlier we discussed what we could do to keep the interesting people that turned up as this agency was developed. We intended to establish a so-called Leaders’ Club, keep in contact with these people, and possibly consider them for employment or in some intellectual capacity in future projects. How do all these things look today?

Andrei Nikitin: Mr Putin, the Agency is in full swing. We receive about 40 projects every week. Some 70 projects have already met our criteria. Forty of these have been approved by the Expert Council, and programmes have been drawn up for ten that will allow them to be launched. We will present them to the Supervisory Council. One example is the project submitted by Polymerteplo, which we are sponsoring jointly with Vneshekonombank and the Ministry of Regional Development. It envisions a funding arrangement that will make it possible to replace utility pipes in the spring rather than in the autumn before the start of the heating season. This is likely to reduce power losses considerably in the housing and utilities sector. Companies identical to Polymerteplo will be able to use the pattern we are developing here.

Another project I would like to mention was submitted by Interskol Company, Izhevsk Engineering Works. You asked us to help them in May, when the Agency was not yet launched. This project will soon enter the implementation stage. We have reached all the necessary agreements, and preparations for modernising the Izhevsk Works are in progress. The company is establishing its production facilities in Russia.

We also launched some projects in the Young Professionals category. In the Vertical Flights project that emerged in Yekaterinburg (at ASI conference on July 14, 2011), we have recruited the first groups of students for our virtual educational centre, and we are making a good headway there.

There is a very interesting situation in the social initiatives area. A huge number of initiatives to organise private kindergartens or to modernize existing kindergartens have come in. Currently the first kindergarten is being modernised in Yekaterinburg. It is based on the leader projects and leader practices arising in the regions, where young mothers volunteer to organise private kindergartens. We are using these methods and will introduce some proposals on system changes to the Supervisory Council that will make it possible to organise these private kindergartens. Every region will be able to do this. As I see it, this will largely solve the problem of kindergarten waiting lists. To my mind, it is a very important social project, and we are working on it with enthusiasm.

I travel a lot from region to region and meet with owners of local medium-sized businesses. People are eager to mix and communicate with each other, and your Leaders’ Club initiative is a huge success. As of today, everything is ready. We are ready to launch this project at the end of this year or early next year.

Vladimir Putin: How do you intend to organize it? How will it look?

Andrei Nikitin: We would like to hold a leaders’ forum and invite representatives of mid-sized industrial businesses. I am referring to producers, not those engaged in trade or using resources. We want to bring them together and discuss the things that concern them. Of course, we’d like you to attend this forum.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Andrei Nikitin: These people are coming with many interesting questions regarding the potential of development institutions. Many businesspeople in the regions don’t know how to use the existing mechanisms. They want to participate. They want to be heard. They want to feel that they are an important part of the economy and that their country needs them.

Vladimir Putin: Tell me once again how you selected these people. Where do they come from?

Andrei Nikitin: First, they are those who volunteered to participate in our competition.

Vladimir Putin: At ASI?

Andrei Nikitin: Yes. They will form the first group. They will be hand-picked. We will also select those that were behind the successful projects that have made it through the agency or are under consideration. In the future we would like the selection mechanism to be transparent; they should invite new club members using the recommendations.

Vladimir Putin: What kind of numbers you are working with? How many people will make it to the end, to be involved in the function you mentioned? What is the approximate number of people you will select from?

Andrei Nikitin: I think about 100 people will attend the function and we will be selecting from 400. They have passed the preliminary selection step. They are the finalists.

Vladimir Putin: You mean one in every five people, don’t you?

Andrei Nikitin: Yes, one in every five. Later they will be selected in the regions through projects and initiatives. While implementing their projects, these people will consider how the projects will benefit their country, not just themselves. I am referring primarily to regional industrialists and regional businesspeople, as well as social and education leaders. This club will by no means be intended for businesspeople alone. I believe these four or five thousand are the individuals that make up the mid-size business community that engages in non-resource production.

Vladimir Putin: OK.