Ekaterina Petrova, Deputy Director for Accelerated Programs of RVC JSC
The friskiness of venture investments demonstrates most clearly the "survival" of start-ups. In 2015, the University of Tennessee conducted a study that showed that 44% of start-ups cease to exist during the first three years of their lives. In TOP-3 reasons, due to which an "early" stage project can become unsuccessful, there are no requirements for the product (42%), lack or absence of funds (29%) and a bad team (23%). Speaking about the Russian market, in addition to the reasons given, entrepreneurs often face the conservatism and closeness of big business. Moreover, even if there is a strong team and demanded technology, projects do not always manage to attract investments.
However, in recent years, corporations are increasingly turning to innovations, the introduction of which becomes an indispensable condition for maintaining the competitiveness of the business. In professional communication, even a special term has appeared that denotes a model of technology search in the external market — "open innovation".
By transferring expertise and integrating the decisions of entrepreneurs into their technological chains, corporations can significantly extend the life of the future design projects and ensure their development. While the greatest interest in the model is shown by large companies representing rapidly developing industries, for example, IT or banking technologies, the demand for innovation is growing in the traditional industries — agribusiness, metallurgy, power engineering, mechanical engineering and others.
Acceleration programs are a kind of platform for the interaction of investors, big business and start-ups. Participation in them enables the start-up to pimp its project in the shortest possible time, get the opinion of authoritative experts and build interaction with potential partners and customers. RVC conducts its own "GenerationS" accelerator from 2013. According to statistics, about 70% of start-up graduates receive revenue after the end of the acceleration program, 27% has received investments from private or public funds and for the entire period of the accelerator’s existence, by early 2017, start-ups have already managed to raise 2.39 billion roubles in investments.
Graduates of "GenerationS" together with large partner companies test solutions, launch pilot projects. Thus, the developers of "Oz PhotoExpert" — a software platform for determining the authenticity of digital documents and photos — launched a pilot for testing biometric identification for fraud protection in conjunction with QIWI, which acted as an industrial partner of the accelerator, and the project team "Transformer with ceramic insulation" is continuing to test the samples of products and is developing the technology jointly with "EuroSibEnergo" JSC. In case of successful completion of R&D, it is possible to build a plant for the production of transformers in Irkutsk region. Developers of the device for automatic analysis of skin condition" ScanDerm Pro" managed to conclude a partnership with "Biofarmcluster Severny" and I. M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University and enter the TOP-20 biomedical projects in Russia. The partners of the developers of the programming environment and the runtime platform for the management of industrial robots RCML are two of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial robots — KUKA (Germany) and FANUC (Japan), their development was included in the "Factories of the Future" project of the "TechNet Working Group" of the National Technology Initiative (NTI) implemented jointly with "NPO Saturn".
Russian projects have a high potential for development not only in Russia: As many as 25 graduates of "GenerationS" became participants in international accelerating programs, and 73 start-ups are successfully implementing international expansion. For example, the Russian developer of computer vision systems, "VisionLabs" is cooperating with Facebook — Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research, as well as with Intel, Cisco and Deutsche Telecom. Together with Facebook, a platform for developers with access to tools for deep learning of neural networks Torch and open library of computer vision "OpenCV" was created. The finalist of "GenerationS-2014″, "Promobot" company has already got contracts for the supply of robots not only to Russian companies, but also to the markets of the UK, Turkey, Spain, Chile, the USA and China.
Nine graduating teams 2013-2015 continue to develop the project in a foreign jurisdiction. For example, "WayRay" established itself in the city of Lausanne in Swiss, using the invitation of the Agency for Economic Development of Geneva and Bern (GGBa), while the development centre of the company is still based in Russia. "HepyScreen" company, the finalist of 2015, works in Singapore, where it has a strategic partner now. " Real Speaker" project first opened an office in South Korea, and then moved to Ireland.
In order for the start-up to "survive" in Russia, project managers need to study the market, very clearly understand the strengths and weaknesses of their product, constantly develop entrepreneurial competencies and, ultimately, find a suitable support tool. Even if you don’t manage to become a finalist, get a prize or an investment from the start-up immediately, in any case, your team will receive a feedback which in the future will help assess prospects and outline the development path.