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Yesterday Skolkovo, a Russian government-financed technology and innovation foundation, opened the program of the Innovation week in St.Petersburg with a seminar on opportunities of commercialization of its residents’ R&D results. Sharing a number of success stories and a few failures, the discussion finally stumbled upon the issue of insufficient government support in Russia. I probably need to be more precise here— not the non-existence of it, but the lack of knowledge among industry players about what government institutions to address and what assistance is available.
According to the seminar participants, being adequately backed up by the authorities is one of the crucial factors in succeeding in the innovations market. They pointed out to the recent developments in the Ukrainian IT industry — specifically the newly introduced tax exemption law to come into force on January 1, 2013 — which have presented additional challenges for IT services and R&D providers from Russia. Lower taxes along with free visa entry to the country can make Ukraine more attractive outsourcing destination than Russia.
Another recent white paper came to my mind — this time on Belarus and its IT outsourcing market. Presented by Ciklum, the report highlights the strong desire by Belorussian government to support the IT industry. The range of these initiatives is wide, however, the only real benefit is tax exemption available for the residents of high-tech park in Minsk.
These government measures — both in Ukraine and Belarus — could be a good cause to go for outsourced software development in these countries but the labour pool questions rises. A number of Belorussian technical specialists is limited to 25,000 (Ciklum) whereas Ukraine can boast no more than 20,000 employees in the IT. These figures together do not match up 250,000 resource pool in Russia. Although with still weak support from the government, Russia is well set to be regarded as a provider of quality R&D and application development services in the international market with the abundance of IT labour.
The upcoming St.Petersburg Economic Forum will host a series of high-level events with both delegates from the government and business. For example, Russian Venture Company and Russoft association will spark the discussion on measures necessary to take in order to push the Russian IT industry further in the global marketplace and present its vision on its role in the global division of labour. Perhaps, in the course of debates, the proposals of the ICT market players will be heard by the government representatives.