Defying political odds, Minnesota puts together its own US-Russia Innovation Week
12 Mar '14
Despite a flurry of negativism that’s been gushing in verbal bickering between top U.S. and Russian government officials ever since the Crimea crisis in Ukraine broke out, the State of Minnesota is nonetheless pushing its own U.S.-Russia Innovation Week planned long ago. RVC-USA, the U.S.-based subsidiary of RVC (Russian Venture Company), is also participating in putting together the event.
The high-profile week is expected to begin with a Conference scheduled for March 25-26 in St. Paul. The Conference will be preceded on March 24 by the “Matchmaking” Pre-Conference Innovation Partnership at the Science Museum of Minnesota. You can find program details here. For more information please email at: email@example.com.
As Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State, told Marchmont earlier this week, “this Innovation Conference will bring together companies, universities, non-profits and research institutes, government agencies, and civic organizations to share best practices, review existing collaborations, and to explore new ways to strengthen U.S.-Russian relations through mutually beneficial trade, investment, research and commercialization.”
According to Mr. Ritchie, as of mid-February, prior to the Crimea crisis, the organizers had “delegations confirmed from the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Washington, led by Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and from Russia’s most innovative regions including Tatarstan, Tomsk, Ryazan, Kaluga, Ulyanovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Mordovia, Lipetsk, and Novosibirsk.”
These delegations representing local innovative companies, universities and research institutes are still expected to be able to arrive, with “about 100 registered” as of March 7.
The Conference is a key part of the broader Innovation Week that is expected to bring together Russian and American companies and institutions. (It is a separate event from the annual Russian Innovation Week typically held in September.) In addition to the “Matchmaking” session and the Conference, the office of the Minnesota Secretary of State is putting together site visits and tours of innovative companies, research centers, universities and community-based organizations in the region.
Minnesota is one of the world’s leading centers of scientific, technical, and commercial innovation, and its main university, the University of Minnesota, was created specifically to focus on scientific research and the transformation of technological discoveries into practical uses in the rural and urban communities.
“Beyond simply extending market reach there are long-term benefits such as the spurring of innovation through the cross-fertilization of ideas, approaches and perspectives and the establishment of more sustainable supply-chains through diversification,” said Secretary Ritchie last month in an exchange with RVC-USA, when asked what benefits were available to U.S. and Russian companies to collaborate rather than compete.
“The world is facing increasingly more complex problems. The past 10 years have become standard for excepting cross-disciplinary approaches and successes. The next breakthrough will come from cross-cultural collaboration,” he added.
Talking specifically about Minnesota businesses, Secretary Ritchie underscored that with the manifest diversity of the state economy, “much like Russia,” local firms “are very interested” in partnering up with Russians to explore potential collaborations. He also emphasized a specific goal the Conference is pursuing to link education facilities in the state of Minnesota with those in Russia.