Rustam Minnikhanov on venture business: “Some will succeed, some will not — there is no need to be afraid”

Tatarstan is choosing innovative ideas for further financing

Rustam Minnikhanov on venture business: “Some will succeed, some will not — there is no need to be afraid”
Photo: tatarstan.ru

The president of Tatarstan awarded prizes to young winners of the contest 50 Best Innovative Ideas for Tatarstan on 17 December with a prize fund of 13 million rubles. Also, there was the demo day under the entrepreneurial programme Idea-1000 — a similar competition for business. At the presentation, the participating companies told about their innovative projects supported by the Investment and Venture Fund of the Republic of Tatarstan. Over 15 years, the fund has financed 612 projects of Idea-1000 at almost half a billion rubles. What the jury guided and what chances of the new participants of the programme are — read in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

One shouldn’t be afraid of taking risks

The contest 50 Best Innovative Ideas For Tatarstan, which has been held since 2005 to stimulate research and scientific and technical activities of scientists, inventors, graduate students, students and schoolchildren, receives about 2,000 applications annually. Over time, the fund began to accept successful ideas from all over Russia. During the whole period of the event, approximately 10 per cent of the 21,500 applicants received grants. Five hundred and twenty-two winners of the competition implemented their developments in the country, 432 of them were implemented in Tatarstan. For each such project, an average of 31 jobs is created.

This year, the largest number of projects were in the field of education, agriculture, ecology, nature management, food industry, biotechnology, information and telecommunication systems, oil and gas. The work of more than 100 experts from different industries is headed by the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences. Almost 2,000 people from Tatarstan and 10 regions of Russia took part in the competition. The awards from 25 thousand to 50 thousand rubles were awarded to 160 participants in 9 categories. About 30 scholarships from 5 thousand to 30 thousand rubles the participants received from the partners of the competition: Tatneftekhiminvest-Holding, Svyazinvestneftekhim, Ak Bars Bank, Khimgrad And Tatneft.

“Nobody knew about venture business in the republic 15 years ago. Today we promote our developments and invite colleagues from other regions of the country. Our republic is innovative and sets itself serious tasks. The educational, scientific and industrial potential of Tatarstan should work for the benefit of the tasks and goals that we set. We have a lot to learn. Our higher school is also changing, approaching the real sector, departments are opening, research centres are being created. For small businesses, the Investment Venture Fund is the help that gives a good chance. Some will succeed, some will not. There is no need to be afraid of it. In the country as a whole, we set the tone for our colleagues from other regions,” Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov said.

“The purpose of the fund is to give people the mechanisms to create a company, to make the first product,” Aynur Aydeldinov stressed

It's not business, it's ideas

Aynur Aydeldinov, the director of the Investment Venture Fund of Tatarstan, reminded that 15 years ago all internal cooperation ties that were in the Soviet Union were destroyed. There was a very large outflow of personnel from research institutes.

“With the destruction of these ties, many industries were lost, we had to transform and create new ties. When we started in 2005, the 50 Best Innovative Ideas of Tatarstan barely collected 400 applications. The first three years were hard to shake the system. Therefore, we created 20 representative offices in the leading universities of the republic, through which we began to collect applications,” said the head of the fund.

According to him, the venture fund is the development institute, which was established under the government of the Republic of Tatarstan, “everyone thinks that this is a huge amount of money. But there is no business here, we are talking about ideas, scientists, stimulating their activities, attracting young people, creating high-tech technologies. A very important topic is public recognition, it is important for the nominee to get into the focus of the fund.”

“Some time after the appearance of 50 Ideas, there appeared Idea-1000. As part of this programme, they gave up to 3-4 million rubles. The purpose of the fund is to give people the mechanisms to create a company, to make the first product,” Aynur Aydeldinov stressed.

Since 2006, this programme has collected about 3 thousand applications. Six hundred companies were created — the conversion rate for Idea-1000 is 20 per cent — “very serious”, according to the director of the fund. Five hundred and twenty-two companies were able to implement their developments. As a result, more than 20 thousand jobs were created in the republic. Almost 700 projects have intellectual property. About 150 companies generate revenue from 10 to 100 million rubles a year.

The prize fund of Ideas -1000 in 2019 amounted to 28 million rubles

One can get up to 9 million rubles for a real project in a year

As Aynur Aydeldinov told, at first Idea-1000 lost interesting projects. After analyzing the situation, the members of the board of trustees realized that the speed of investment of companies was too slow, it stretched for 4-5 years.

“The programme has been adjusted. If a company presents real calculations and gives hope for the viability of the project, it can receive up to 9 million rubles during a year. As soon as the conditions were changed, more companies began to appear. The composition of the participants has changed qualitatively. Scientists began to understand how to create technology companies,” said the speaker.

The new format of the programme provides that as a result of the selection of the 50 best innovative ideas for Tatarstan at the Start 1 stage, the fund finances up to 10 projects for 2 million rubles. At the second stage, the fund sends 3 million rubles, choosing up to six projects among the applications. The stage is combined with the Russian venture forum, the Acceleration Programme and uses the resource of highly qualified international expertise available to them. In the segment Start 3, the fund finances up to three projects of 4 million rubles — this is additional funding to start promoting products to the market. The selection of projects takes place from among the projects Start 2. Startup leaders are promised to enter the international market and work on the project with the participation of leading international experts, entrepreneurs and investors.

The prize fund of Ideas -1000 in 2019 amounted to 28 million rubles. At Start 1, the winners were 10 projects, which in total received 20 million rubles. At Start 2, six projects were financed at 18 million rubles.

Innovations that make life easier

On the demo day, one had the opportunity to trace the progress of innovations on stages: idea — project — company — acceleration — entry into the market. Young companies that took the first steps, told about how their projects are transformed with the help of new solutions, which require further funding. Investors and trustees of the fund listened to them.\

“We are planning to build a plant for the production of organic fertilizers with a capacity of up to 80,000 tonnes of products a year, we need about 200 million rubles to make the production work,” Elena Kulagina said

One of the projects offers companies a convenient service for the delivery of goods over long distances. It will help in a few clicks to hold a tender between transport companies and understand the types of delivery and its cost. Another innovation with the help of infrared rays is able to determine the source of fire, for example, in a huge warehouse of 5 thousand square metres to partly extinguish it, without spoiling most of the goods. There was presented an industrial technology of cleaning metal surfaces with dry ice.

“It's important for us not to win the competition but to attract investments,” says Yulia Khantimerova

There were also companies that have passed all stages but continue to look for investment for new ideas.

“Start 3 is over. It is important for us not to win the competition but to attract investments. With the help of 3D printing, we produce conductive resins and plastic. Our technologies allow us to produce in three weeks metal structures of complex geometry, which are traditionally made up to six months. At the next stage, we need 250,000 dollars. We plan to develop experimental production, patent developments, certify and enter the international market,” said Yulia Khantimerova, the director of New Structures and Technologies PLC.

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By Ekaterina Ablaeva. Photo: Maksim Platonov
Tatarstan