From dog shelters to new materials: best startups selected in Tatarstan

Tatarstan Investment and Venture Fund has summed up the results of the year

From dog shelters to new materials: best startups selected in Tatarstan
Photo: tatarstan.ru

The results of the 7th contest “Fifty best innovative ideas for the Republic of Tatarstan” have been summed up in Kazan. The competition is the “entrance gate” to the promotion of startups created by young people. According to the director of the Tatarstan Investment and Venture Fund, Aynur Aydeldinov, 100-200 competitive startups appear a year. Six-seven of them are then acquired by large companies. Over the 17 years of the fund's existence, 682 companies have been funded, 116 startups have generated revenue of more than 1 billion rubles, 61 million rubles paid in taxes and, most importantly, more than 800 jobs created.

Contest of ideas

This year, 1,953 applications from different regions of Russia have been submitted for the contest “Fifty best innovative ideas for the Republic of Tatarstan”. All of them have passed through the “sieve” of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan. The winners in nine nominations were 165 participants, who were awarded at the Korston hotel, shopping and entertainment complex. They received prizes from 25 to 220 thousand rubles, as well as the opportunity to participate in the Idea-1000 programme, where they can receive funding for the development of their project. Another 50 interesting ideas were noted and encouraged by the partners of the competition — Ak Bars Bank, Tatneftekhiminvest Holding, SINKH, Khimgrad, Tatneft, IT Park.

The developments of young startups covered all spheres of life — from socially significant innovations to new technologies and materials. The organisers note that the number of applications in the field of medical technologies and devices, ecology, as well as agriculture, food and biotechnology has increased.

For example, Anastasia Butova, a graduate student of the Kazan Veterinary Academy, has developed a project to organise effective veterinary services for orphanages for neglected animals. She noted that her project is very relevant, since a large number of dog attacks on children and adults have been recorded in Tatarstan.

“Today we have a big problem with stray animals living on the street, in particular, to control their numbers and veterinary care. In our project, we have developed a scheme of veterinary services for shelters, the procedure for the primary reception of animals, preventive measures, including the dangerous disease transmitted to humans such as rabies, the establishment of a shelter and the staffing of its employees. The project has no analogues in Russia. There are almost no stray animals in Europe, and I hope that in the future we will also have a home for every four-legged animal," the winner said.

The project of Associate Professor of the Kazan State Academy of Veterinary Medicine Ilnur Kamaldinov is dedicated to breeding work with horses of the Tatar breed. Now this national breed is being revived in three farms of Tyulyachinsky, Leninogorsky and Alkeevsky districts.

“The number of such horses is increasing every year, and we plan to increase the number to 3 thousand. Now there are more than 600 of them so far. The breeding of the Tatar breed of horses — it is also the production of koumiss, kazylyk and the participation in cultural events — sabantuys and horse races," Kamaldinov shared his plans.

Nikolay Mikhailov, a 21-year-old student of the KNRTU-KAI, is one of the developers of a platform for finding and recruiting IT specialists in Russia.

“It's great that there are such contests that allow young people to implement their ideas. It's great that a startup community is developing in Russia, such initiatives contribute to the development of entrepreneurship," Mikhailov said.

This year, the competition has been held for the 17th time. Photo: tatarstan.ru

“An opportunity to support inventors”

Prime Minister of the Republic of Tatarstan Aleksey Pesoshin took part in the ceremony of awarding the winners. Welcoming the forum participants, he noted that Tatarstan is open to cooperation with all investment companies and innovators who are ready to invest their efforts in the development, promotion and production of competitive high-tech products.

“The contest '50 best innovative ideas for the Republic of Tatarstan' is a successful form of search and disclosure of ideas and talents, where there is an opportunity to support inventors and choose the best. This platform makes it possible to productively build links between institutions, innovation infrastructure, universities, professional associations and established enterprises. A new human resource potential is being formed around the innovation infrastructure," the head of the government of the republic stressed.

Director of the Tatarstan Investment and Venture Fund Aynur Aydeldinov said that this year the competition has been held for the 17th time. Its main goal is to stimulate research activities and attract the attention of young people to it.

“For 17 years, we have received more than 25 thousand applications and about 2,5 thousand companies have become winners. If at the beginning we received 400-450 applications, this year — almost 2 thousand. These statistics indicate that the main goal of the contest has been achieved. Last year, I believe, the significant event took place — one of the most serious and high-tech companies in the country's market, Tatneft PJSC, appeared as partners of the competition. Relying on the scientific base and the latest technologies, it is engaged in the extraction of oil from hard-to-recover reserves. The participation of such corporation will be a serious incentive to support companies that conduct research in this area, ranging from digitalisation, the environmental agenda to new materials: all these projects can be involved in joint work," Aydeldinov said.

Aynur Aydeldinov: “For 17 years, we have received more than 25 thousand applications and about 2,5 thousand companies have become winners.” Photo: tatarstan.ru

"116 startups generated revenue of more than 1 billion rubles”

Answering the question of Realnoe Vremya, which projects he finds the most interesting and promising, the head of the Investment and Venture Fund stressed that there were many of them. He drew attention to that the nominees of the contest "50 innovative ideas of the Republic of Tatarstan” get the right to participate in the programme Idea-1000, which is a logical continuation of the support tools in the field of technological entrepreneurship.

“If before 2018 we took 50 Ideas nominees into 'the funnel' of the programme, now we take them from the entire open market. Even 6-7 years ago, we did not even dream that startups would appear from the open market. Applications were received mainly from universities, research institutes, and today we can say that systematic systematic work of 17 years has completely changed the technological ecosystem of the Republic of Tatarstan. Today we are selecting from 100 to 200 startups from the open market. During this time, 682 companies have been financed and 116 of them, these kids, have generated revenue of more than 1 billion rubles, paid 61 million rubles in taxes and, most importantly, created more than 800 jobs. These are high-tech jobs that are prescribed in the development strategy 2030, this is the basis of fundamental technological entrepreneurship, with which we associate our future.”

Interestingly, the winners of the Idea-1000, in turn, get into the Russian acceleration programme, and then 50 projects are selected from them, which are exhibited within the framework of the Russian Venture Forum. The next one will be held on March 31, 2022, and preparations for it are in full swing.

Aydeldinov said that after participating in the Idea-1000 programme, startups are bought by large companies. If there were 1-2 such deals before, now 8-10 deals take place per year. If 6-7 years ago there were no startups that would meet market criteria, now there are 100-150 competitive startups a year.

The speaker believes that this is a great merit of the Investment and Venture Fund of the Republic of Tatarstan. Recently, by the way, the expert council of the Venture Investor Award has recognized it as “The best venture investor in the region”. For 17 years, the IVF has managed to build an innovative elevator system in Tatarstan. Previously, there was only the technopark Idea. Today, there are more than 100 industrial parks, 20-30 business incubators, and technoparks in the republic. The Investment and Venture Fund, through its programmes to support entrepreneurs and venture investments, becomes the link of this system. Over the past 15 years, 10 rubles of external investments have been attracted for the ruble invested by the fund.

One hundred and sixty-five participants have become winners in nine nominations. Photo: tatarstan.ru

Pandemic has adjusted the market

Summing up the results of the year on the Russian venture capital market, Aydeldinov stressed that the pandemic had a serious impact on it. There have been significantly more deals related to remote access technologies, education services, medical services, e-commerce, delivery. These are projects that are being implemented quickly: investments today, profits tomorrow.

“The inflow of investors' funds to venture capital markets has increased by 2 times in the world. This year we see a revival in the Russian market. To date, 150-200 funds operate on the territory of the Russian Federation, their capitalisation exceeds $4 billion. Five years ago, there were funds with state participation, with a capitalisation of 1-2 billion dollars. The difference was filled by private capital and corporate market. In the last three years, we have seen the activity of large companies. Realising that the demand for technology is the basis of companies' competitiveness, they are studying the startup market.”

The head of the Tatarstan Investment and Venture Fund cited the statistics: for 6 months of 2021, transactions worth $1 billion took place on the Russian market. The main amount — 600 million — accounts for large companies such as Sberbank, Yandex, MTS. The very fact of such transactions stimulates and revitalises the market, promotes the emergence of new startups.

Eleonora Rylova
Tatarstan