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The economic crisis is in effect; however, investors on both sides of the Atlantic are awakening from the shock they experienced last fall, and starting to invest. According to Russia Today, Russia's president Dmitry Medvedev is a "tech-junkie." Medvedev is known to enjoy keeping up with the latest high-tech gadgets, and even has been seen wearing a James Bond-style watch complete with a camera, GPS navigator, radio and video player. He is believed to be a fan of Apple, reportedly owning an iPhone and at least three MacBooks. The leader's hobbies seem to translate into investment policies.
According to Canwest News Service, a state-owned Russian venture capital fund is poised to pump millions of dollars into Canada's fledgling nanotechnology industry. Later this spring, RUSNANO officials in Moscow will decide which firms or startups it wants to fund. RUSNANO's minimum investment in any of 100 firms will be $10 million U.S.
Also, Silicon Valley/Moscow-based Almaz Capital Partners announced its first $11 million of investments into two Russian-related hi-tech companies, Apollo Project and Parallels, Inc. Their target fund size is $100 million. Almaz has completed an initial closing of $55 million with $30 million from Cisco and $25 million from UFG Asset Management. Peter Loukianoff, co-founder and managing partner of Almaz Capital Partners, will join us at the World Russia Forum on April 27, 2009. Mr. Loukianoff is an internationally recognized expert on venture capital and entrepreneurship in Russia.
Mr. Loukianoff is a frequent guest lecturer and invited speaker on the subject of Russian-American business investment. Recently, he has been interviewed on CNBC's Street Signs by Erin Burnett, by the New York Times at the Alternative Investments Conference in Moscow, and at the Forbes CEO Forum in Cannes, France. Peter's pragmatic and ground-level expertise will offer attendees at the World Russia Forum a clear, compelling and unique view on global entrepreneurship and its effects on the geo-political landscape.
"Historically, technology has been a particularly attractive market during and after economic downturns," Mr. Loukianoff said in his interview with Russia Blog. "In the US, Apple, Microsoft, Electronic Arts (EA), Salesforce.com and other leading companies emerged out of recessions. Similarly in Russia, Yandex, Kaspersky and Acronis grew significantly after the 1998 financial crisis."
Innovation: Key to Survival?
Insight on how technology is proving to be a key to survival for some companies, with Peter Loukianoff, Almaz Capital; Alexander Galitsky, Almaz Capital; and CNBC's Erin Burnett.
"The Internet is breaking down barriers and borders. Russian entrepreneurs can now start and build software and Internet services companies in Moscow, just as easily as in Silicon Valley," said Peter Loukianoff. "In addition, a trend we are observing to be more common is that companies that utilize Russian technical talent are significantly more innovative and capital-efficient. This will result in a stronger competitive advantage for the companies themselves and better returns for their shareholders."
"Russia's information and communications technology market has huge economic and innovation potential," said Robert Agee, Cisco vice president for Russia. "Recognizing this potential, Cisco's intention is to accelerate the introduction of new technologies and provide a competitive advantage through early investments in burgeoning technical innovations. Cisco, through the Fund, will continue to seek appropriate investment opportunities in Russia to support high-growth small and medium-sized companies in the technology, digital media and telecommunications sectors."
John Sokoloff of Los Angeles, CA, contributed to this report.