Technobusiness in Russia's Atomic Cities
National Research Council
During 1998 and 1999 a Russian-American team investigated the development of small innovative businesses and related activities in the cities of Snezhinsk, Zarechny (Sverdlovsk Oblast), and Obninsk. Snezhinsk is a closed city, Zarechny is open but with controlled access, and Obninsk is open. Thus, there was an opportunity to consider the impact of limitations on access to the cities and the significance of different geographical and historical factors on the evolution of businesses in the cities.
The team gave special attention to several characteristics and activities of the cities and reached the following conclusions:
Each of the cities has certain tax and other privileges provided by the federal and/or regional governments. In return, the enterprises and institutes in the cities should contribute to economic development not only within the municipalities, but also throughout the regions.
Federal policies should facilitate technological development, including prompt payment of local taxes by federal facilities to help support local technology initiatives, establishment of stable and equitable energy prices to increase competitiveness of productive enterprises, and support for telecommunications infrastructures that enable businesses to reach out to new customers.
Innovating for profit is critical to the future of the cities. To this end, the federal government should establish a stable tax regime, enforce protection of intellectual property, give preference to Russian suppliers of high-tech goods and services in government procurements, and enforce payment of duties on imports of high-tech foreign goods.
Young people must become technology advocates. More emphasis should be given to high school olympiads, summer computer camps should be expanded, all college students should have Internet access, and work-study programs should be expanded for technology-oriented students.
International programs should be truly collaborative with equitable sharing of the rights to intellectual property generated in cooperative activities, more emphasis on long-term sustainability of programs, and increased portions of Western funding available for expenditures in Russia.
The Russian-American team is gratified that this workshop responds to one of the specific recommendations of the team's report, and we look forward to improving our insights into the future for small innovative firms in the nuclear cities.