The Skolkovo Foundation, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (SkTech), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) signed a 3-year contract in November 2011 as an important step in support of education and research activities at the Skolkovo Innovation Center. The goal is to develop a graduate-level research university, together with entrepreneurship programs, at SkTech, bringing together Russian, U.S., and global research capabilities.
The concept calls for 15 multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research centers located abroad, with partners at Russian universities and research institutes as well as at Skolkovo, to work on projects of interest to SkTech. Five are to be located at MIT and 10 at institutions selected on the basis of an international competition. The initial competition attracted 129 applications involving scientists from 360 universities in 20 countries. Each overseas center will be provided with annual operating expenses of $6 to $12 million for up to 5 years. Collaboration is expected to be at the project level, with each center’s faculty, researchers, and students collaborating with counterparts from SkTech and one or more other universities within Russia.
Anticipated operation levels are as follows:
• Annual Funding for SkTech after construction: $250 million
• Planned Faculty at SkTech: 200
• Planned Students (masters and doctorates): 1,200
• Planned Postdocs: 300
• Student-faculty ratio: 6 to 1
• Instruction language: English 219
The expectations are for the faculty to be mostly junior scientists, but fulltime and on tenure tracks. Most of the junior faculty will have the opportunity to spend their first year at MIT or another leading university abroad in a faculty development program, including joint research, education development, and innovation mechanisms. The goal is to establish a culture of innovation at SkTech. Industrial advisory groups have been formed to promote ties with industry and public institutions. One of the focus areas is biomedical technologies.
While the Skolkovo complex is private and independent, the initial financial support comes from the Skolkovo Foundation, which receives its budget from the Russian government. Models for the long-term financing will need to be developed, with the goal being a combination of industrial support for the research agendas and operating budgets, including direct funding and endowment support. There is currently no initial endowment, but there is an active development plan for an endowment.
Academic degrees and diplomas will be conferred by SkTech, with certificates issued stating that students have completed a degree program that was developed in cooperation with MIT.
In addition to biomedical technologies, SkTech will focus on the following research topics, which are also the priorities of the Skolkovo Foundation:
• Energy science and technology
• Information science and technology
• Space science and technology
• Nuclear science and technology
The projected near-term timetable is as follows:
2012: First research collaboration centers established at MIT and other locations
2012: Pilot educational programs
2013: Establishment of SkTech
SOURCES: Briefing at Skolkovo Foundation, April 2012; Sarah Everts, “Building an MIT in Moscow,” Chemical and Engineering News, American Chemical Society, June 25, 2012, p. 40; Briefing by Mats Norlund, Vice President for Research, SkTech, July 2012; “Can Russia Create a New Silicon Valley?” The Economist, July 14, 2012, p. 58.