TECHNOLOGICAL COOPERATION BETWEEN FINLAND AND RUSSIA:
EXAMPLE OF TECHNOLOGU PARKS ST. PETERSBURG
Electronic Publications of
PanEuropean Institute, 1/2007
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By now it becomes obvious that Russian economy needs to change its structure in order to become less dependent on its fuel sector. From economic area this idea recently moved towards national politics and even became one of midterm (hopefully not longterm) national priorities. A component of the countrys economic growth contributed by fuel exports and related industries is considered to be either very important or even dominant by most of the experts. If the letter is right and Russias GDP grows mainly due to uprising of fuel export prices, the growth itself is not only uncertain but to a large extent useless for the countrys economy longterm development. The Dutch disease and its circumstances are already wellknown.
Despite that Russia still has a huge potential of knowledgebased economic development. It inherited big innovation experience and facilities (and also educational basement) from the Soviet Union which invested big financial and resources in fundamental science and applied research. There are some regions of Russia where the scientific and research potential exceeds the countrys average due to economic specialisation acquired long before the market reforms started. Definitely, Saint Petersburg is one of such regions.
Todays development of the Citys knowledgeintensive industries including machinebuilding, engineering, chemistry and militaryindustrial complex creates regional demand for innovation and research. A big number of educational establishments and research institutes supply educated specialists and experienced researchers. Some of these institutions certainly have links with producing sector of economy. But in general this link between applied science and production is rather week. Innovation was considered a weak segment of Soviet economy (with some exceptions, of course), the same is it now. And creation of modern innovation structures namely technoparks may help to eliminate this disadvantage. Especially after the technoparks proved their effectiveness and successful role in integrating science and business in most of developed countries of the world.
Saint Petersburg has the basement for creating modern innovative structures. Moreover, today the region gets support from the state taking the innovation policy into focus. Several large statesupported and statefinanced technopark projects were introduced in the City just recently. The research and business communities both expressed their interest and willing to participate in the projects. But all these technoparks are almost startups.
Development of these structures requires special experience and knowhow. That could become a new dimension for FinnishRussian mutual economic relations. Technological cooperation between our countries has long traditions. And todays Finland being one of the worldrecognized technological leaders (at least in certain sectors) can contribute much to the development of innovative structures in Russia. Technopolis running successfully technoparks in Finland might become the first contributor. The company is already making the first steps towards implementing this idea.
Moreover, implementation of one or several technopark projects in Russia by wellknown Finnish operator might produce a multiplicative effect, engaging more Finnish hitech companies. These firms which either export to Russia or have expansion plans may decide to enter the big growing market of Suomis eastern neighbour, following Technopolis and using its technoparks in Saint Petersburg. That might change the branch structure of FinnishRussian investment relations, at least on the side of Finnish FDI to Russia. And that will contribute a lot to overall development of technological cooperation between Finland and Russian Federation.
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