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MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation of Russia reach agreement

Opportunities for educational and research collaboration to be explored.
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Today, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Skolkovo Foundation, on behalf of the Russian Federation, announce an agreement to evaluate options for collaboration in education and research in Russia. MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation are signing a framework agreement for this purpose in Washington, D.C. during a visit by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to the United States.

As envisioned by the agreement, MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation will work together to assess opportunities for MIT to conduct educational and research activities in Russia in collaboration with its leading universities and research institutes, which will be selected during the assessment process. Such activities might include the establishment of a network of joint research laboratories bringing together researchers from MIT and Russia, and/or the creation of a new, separate academic institution in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo. MIT will also evaluate a participation in the creation of an innovation city at Skolkovo as one of the project’s partners. Current founding partners include the Russian Academy of Sciences, Rusnano Corporation, Russian Venture Company, Bauman Technical University, and others.

An important result expected from the collaboration of MIT and Skolkovo Foundation is to promote MIT’s culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among Russian scientists and students. The Skolkovo project will create paths to bring technologies to industry, launch high-tech start-ups, and facilitate the growth of the regional innovation ecosystems. MIT will also evaluate ways for including researchers and students from collaborating Russian institutions in MIT’s innovation competitions and events.

MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation expect to conclude their evaluation by the end of 2010. If they make a final decision to proceed with one or more of these concepts or others, they expect to negotiate and sign a definitive agreement during the first quarter of 2011.

Today's agreement is a result of an historic effort by the President of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, to modernize the national economy and promote technological innovation. Discussions started in January 2010 during a two-day visit to MIT by senior Russian government officials, led by First Vice Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff Vladislav Surkov, and others. Mr. Surkov now chairs a task force established by President Medvedev to create a nationwide umbrella for technology development, commercialization and education in Russia within the Skolkovo project.

Victor Vekselberg, co-chairman of Skolkovo Foundation, said, “Never before has Russia been so open to international advice and cooperation. We are tired of the brain drain that our country has suffered in recent years, and we want to reverse this process at once. We are committed to engaging the best individual and institutional partners in each area of Skolkovo project. Our team has already been joined by the famous Craig Barrett, and also by Nobel Prize laureates Zhores Alferov and Roger Kornberg. Now we are starting to engage with MIT, a world leader in research and education, as well as in technology commercialization.”

Rafael Reif, MIT’s Provost, commented, “MIT’s mission is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology and other areas of scholarship and includes a commitment to work with others to bring new knowledge to bear on the world’s great challenges. We are interested in exploring whether opportunities exist for MIT, in collaboration with scientists and engineers in Russia, to conduct educational and research activities that are consistent with MIT’s mission and may contribute meaningfully to the Russian government’s strategic initiative and the Skolkovo Project.”

The Skolkovo Foundation
is a nonprofit organization in Russia charged by the Russian President with creating a new science and technology city in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo. This city comprises a university, research institutions, centers of collective usage, business incubator, technology transfer and commercialization office, corporate offices and R&D centers, as well as residential space and social infrastructure. Skolkovo city is governed by a special law, which gives its residents special economic conditions for running their businesses.

Founded in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a co-educational privately endowed research university, is dedicated to advancing knowledge and educating students in science, technology and other areas of scholarship to serve the nation and world. The Institute has more than 1,000 faculty and 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

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