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Open Innovations Startup Tour completes its first leg with stop in Almaty

The Open Innovations Startup Tour 2017, a roving search for talented tech startups across Russia and several neighbouring countries, has completed its first stop abroad in the Kazakh city of Almaty, following earlier visits to Russia’s Far Eastern regions of Khabarovsk and the Sakha republic.

Winners of the Yakutsk stage of the Startup Tour pose with Pekka Viljakainen, the Finnish brains behind the travelling event and an advisor to Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg. Photo:

In each city visited by a team of experts affiliated with the Skolkovo Foundation, winning projects presented by would-be entrepreneurs are chosen in three categories: biomedicine, industrial technologies and IT. In Almaty, the winning project in the industrial technologies category was the Nomad Greenhouse, inspired by a traditional Central Asian yurt. In the biomed category, a project for a bionic prosthetic hand took first prize, while in the IT category, a farm management system titled Agroshield was named the most promising.

Alexander Fertman, director of the Skolkovo Foundation’s science and education department, said the projects presented in Kazakhstan on February 7-8 had demonstrated the country’s high innovations potential.

“All the projects were focused on improving people’s lives, and it’s clear that [innovators] are solving specific problems here that are important to people,” he said.

Maulen Bekturganov, the designer of the bionic prosthetic hand, said his plans for the future had become much clearer after taking part in the Startup Tour.

“I was able to talk to like-minded people at today’s event, and I got so much advice and information – everything I’d been looking for during the last six months but hadn’t been able to get anywhere,” he said.  

The winners in each of the 14 cities visited by the Open Innovations Startup Tour win invitations to the Startup Village at the Skolkovo innovation city outside Moscow, an annual two-day startup extravaganza that this year will be held on June 6-7. All the scientists and budding entrepreneurs who take part in Startup Tour events can make use of two days of mentoring sessions, personal consultations and talks by tech and business development experts.

The winners in the first port of call, the city of Yakutsk, which welcomed the Startup Tour on January 30-31, included a robotic surgical instrument, a project for producing an organic LED and a Near Field Communication system.

In Khabarovsk, the second city visited by this year’s Startup Tour on February 2-3, a system for optimizing sales took the first prize in the IT category, while a vitamin and mineral food supplement won the biomed category. The industrial track was won by a project to develop equipment for obtaining polymer composite materials.

The next stop for the Open Innovations Startup Tour, which this year is being jointly organised by the Skolkovo Foundation together with Russian Venture Company, is the Siberian science and education powerhouse of Tomsk.

“Thanks to the Startup Tour, we have forged a strong relationship with the Tomsk region,” said Kirill Kaem, head of Skolkovo’s biomed cluster.

“The Tomsk region has obtained special innovative status, and many of its projects have already become residents of Skolkovo,” he added.

The Startup Tour will then visit eight more cities across Russia, as well as the Armenian capital Yerevan and Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.