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Administration of Skolkovo Innovation Foundation IT Cluster is interested in the experience of Belarus Hi-Tech Park (HTP) in creating a favorable environment for IT business development.
September 21st Skolkovo IT Cluster Science and Research Director Nikolai Suetin met HTP Administration Director Valery Tsepkalo in Minsk. Russian Foundation representative was interested in the mechanism of Park functioning, as well as in the conditions created for its IT companies. Parties also defined priority areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.
Earlier within the framework of conference “Russia – Belarus – Skolkovo: united innovation space”, held in Minsk on September 19 under the aegis of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and Skolkovo, Valery Tsepkalo made a presentation on HTP, that aroused a genuine interest in Park among Russian guests.
As Valery Tsepkalo noted during the presentation, though Belarus HTP and Russian Skolkovo Foundation use different approaches, they are pursuing the same goal – to create economy of knowledge. As opposed to Skolkovo, HTP is focused on just one sector – software development. Thus, Park was meant to be a favorable business environment for the establishment and development of IT companies. Currently, about half of HTP residents are foreign investment companies. There are 109 companies with 12,5 thousand of IT engineers registered in Park altogether.
The number of employees is growing, first of all, by means of the influx of new specialists into the industry, i.e. by means of training of IT engineers in Belarusian universities. It should be mentioned that HTP resident-companies are active investors in the development of technical education: there are about 50 IT study labs in a number of educational establishments. In addition to that, HTP companies’ workers on a regular basis deliver lectures for students of technical universities on the technologies that are in demand in the world market today.
A sufficient number of highly qualified IT specialists are one of the major requirements for the development of the so called “product” business model. HTP Administration Director believes “an idea is not enough, we need engineers-developers who can implement it on the technological level”. Today, more than half of HTP residents (59 companies) develop their own software products. However, as Valery Tsepkalo says, we should not underestimate outsourcing programming model, because it’s this model that “allows companies to have a safe cushion to mobilize internal resources, financial, but first of all, intellectual, to risk and try to develop their own product and enter the world market with it”.
Annually HTP residents’ exports grow by 40-50%. The total export of Park resident-companies significantly exceeds total export of Belarus IT industry software products before the creation of Park. “I believe this year our exports will exceed $300 million and total output will be about $350 million”, stated said Valery Tsepkalo. Up to 90% of computer software developed by HTP companies is exported to customers from more than 55 countries, including well-known global corporations. Most of products are banking, industry, medicine and commerce related. There are popular computer games and mobile applications among them.
Meanwhile, HTP development is mainly based on private investments: for example, Park site development, that is planned to be completed by the end of 2013, is financed by residents and a foreign investor.
Skolkovo IT Cluster Science and Research Director Nikolai Suetin gave a high assessment of achievements of Belarusian HTP and expressed a wish to develop a close cooperation between Park and IT Cluster, as “it could be another impetus for Skolkovo”.