ROSNANO prepared to discuss partnership with Azerbaijan: interview with deputy director general of Russian nanotechnology corporation

Russia, Moscow, Dec. 23/ Trend , R. Agayev/ Interview of Aleksandr Losyukov, member of the Board and deputy director general of the Russian ROSNANO corporation, with Trend .

Question: Russian corporation of nanotechnology has existed for already a year. What did it accomplish since its inception? What it failed to achieve?

Answer: The corporation which was founded form the very beginning has existed for almost two years. I did not take part in the very beginning of establishment of corporation. I came several months later. But now, summing up activities of the corporation, I can say that it has accomplished a lot: infrastructure of corporation was created, its focus of activities was identified and goals and tasks were defined. On completion of preparatory work, we embarked on practical work.

The admission of applications for financing began in April. The Supervisory Board of ROSNANO has approved six projects with two of them being provided with finance. Thus it is difficult to unequivocally say that I am satisfied with the annual activities. In general, self-confidence is a dangerous feeling. Frankly speaking, it does not step towards future achievements. Of course, we need to do more and quickly. The number of partners must be increased as we have ambitious task ahead - Russia should hold 3% of world nanotechnology market by 2015. Mission of our corporation is to contribute to establishment of institutes of innovational development, that is, innovational climate in Russia. 

Question: What do you think of prospects of this field in Russia and throughout the world?

Answer: I will begin from general to special. There are considerable prospects of development of nanotechnology. Nowadays almost all countries with developed science and industry are engaged in production using nanotechnology. There are also a number of countries who are not leaders of world economy, but they successfully working in the field of nanotechnologies focusing on a wide range of fields.

For instance, Israel, which is a small country and practically does not have huge reserves of natural resources, managed to be one of leaders in nanotechnological field. Therefore, we regard Israel as one of our important partners.

As to Russia, we had a good scientific base during the Soviet period. This base is good as in the past, though recently, most of scientists have left for abroad and work successfully there. Our countrymen, who at present are working abroad, are valuable potential partners for us, as well. We keep in touch with these people and are prepared to speak about concrete mutually beneficial projects with them.

International cooperation plays an important role in our work. I do not speak about it because of my leadership at this organization, but it is unbiased recognized fact. The matter is that it is too difficult to achieve successes in science, engineering, technology and nanotechnology without developing international cooperation. Therefore, I can say that I am for international cooperation, including with Azerbaijan, as well.

Question: How do you assess results of the first international Rusnanotech-2008 forum?

Answer: If I say that the forum in Moscow has been successful, then you will think that I am only praising our work.  Perhaps, first I will speak about opinions of partners of the corporation and representatives of 33 countries participating in the forum. On Dec. 22, I met with officials of Taiwan, who visited the forum and displayed great interest toward it. They said that the forum was one of large-scale actions held in different countries within a year.

The general public displayed great interest in the Moscow Forum, which comprised more than 9,000 participants and visitors. This figure is high enough. Reporters included famous and well known scientists, businessmen and representatives of official authorities of countries. Certainly, it is a great success for us, as the similar forum took place in Russia for the first time. We want to hold it annually and turn it into global platform for discussions of issues to develop nanotechnology. Our first experience indicates that there is an interest to Russia and the Russian science; the corporation plays an important role in development of nanotechnology and nanoproduction in Russia. Some of our foreign partners and Russian scientific staff want to work with the corporation. These results make us happy.

Question: What can you say about interaction of the corporation with the CIS countries?

Answer:  Cooperation with the CIS countries is one of our priority directions. Thus, we have a successful cooperation with Kazakhstan and a special Russian-Kazakh Fund has been established to finance relevant scientific and technological development. All of this work is realized at initiative and under assistance of Presidents of both countries.

There are definite perspectives on cooperation with Belarus and Armenia, as well as there are several projects under discussions and they may be realized. I suppose that Azerbaijan will be interested in this matter and prepared to discuss issues on possible cooperation. We ink framework agreements with several countries and discuss concrete projects with others, as well as sign agreements or contracts with them. If our Azerbaijani partners are interested in this matter, then let discuss this issue.

Question: What is the general strategy of ROSNANO and what large-scale projects the corporation plans to carry out in 2009?

Answer: First of all, I must say that the Russian government pays great interest to the development of this branch. The Russian Federation allocated $5bln to the corporation for commercialization of the non-industry production. ROSNANO finances projects, which ensure the creation of competitive product in the sphere of nanotechnologies and which are on the stage of commercialization, when the possibilities of attraction of private capital are limited in the view of high risks, market and technological uncertainty. When we understand that the particular business can manage without us, we do not attempt to occupy this business.

We always appear only as co-investors with private capital, always with minority share and leave project, as soon as the private capital manifests the ability to conduct project independently. Financial participation of ROSNANO at the early stages of projects decreases the risks of its partners, particular investors. Thus, private company obtains the possibility to carry out projects with the high barrier of entrance and thus to obtain significant competitive advantage. We are not aim at maximization of the cost of our share.

We have major projects in the priority, whose revolution can compose hundreds of millions of rubles, but we are also ready to work with small projects. World experience shows that very interesting and large-scale productions grow from small projects, which later become the world famous ones. The strategy of investing of ROSNANO provides selection of projects, which must correspond to the specific number of criteria. First of all, corporation is interested in investment projects, which foresee the carrying out of non-technological production and recovery of inserted funds.

Project passes several stages of examination. The first is "input" examination, which occupies the period of less than a month. Formal correspondence of subject claim to requirements for composition and content of the packet of project documents is checked in this stage. If project satisfies all necessary requirements, it passes to the stage of scientific and technical examination, on which the correspondence of the content of project of the region on non-technologies is determined. Depending on the quality of designing of the feasibility study this stage can occupy from 30 to 60 days. At this time the investment managers of corporation study business- plan of project and, if necessary, help to finish it. In the case of positive response of scientific experts, the complete investment examination is produced, during which detailed business- plan is developed and negotiations with co-investors are signed. Further project is examined by the management of corporation, and then the Supervision council, where the total solution on financing is taken. The assertion of project can take from one to two months. If project is deflected, applicant obtains the detailed substantiation of reasons and has capability to finish project and to give a new claim.

Question: Is there an estimation of investments volumes, which is necessary for the development of non-technological branch in Russia?

Answer: A total of $6bln was invested by State into the development of scientific research. Our corporation does not deal with financing of fundamental and applied science. This is the business of the Academy of Sciences, scientific institutes. As a whole a total of $11bln is invested into nanosphere and this sum can be compared with the sum that is invested by a leader in the nanotechnologies sphere in the U.S. Private investments exceed the quantity of investments by the State by ten times.

Question: What are the conditions for foreign investors? Do they differ from the participation terms of Russian investors in various projects?

Answer: We make no differences between Russian and foreign partners. Any foreign company can give claim to the corporation on financing of projects. The only limitation for companies both Russian, and foreign, is the fact that all production or its part must be implemented in the territory of Russia.

Sabina Babayeva also contributed to this article

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