Although the past two years have been difficult for Russia in terms of both its domestic economic situation and relations with the West, it seems that the Kremlin has not decreased its interest in innovation development, making new efforts to improve its position in the global technology market. Among the most recent steps in this direction is the decree signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on May 26 to establish a special Agency for Technology Transfer, which will help Russian companies to acquire patents as well as support local production projects and joint ventures.

Another initiative that is widely discussed today among Russian representatives of high-tech, government and academia is the National Technology Initiative, which was established as a key priority in 2014 by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Since then, top thought leaders and entrepreneurs have gathered as part of the so-called Foresight Fleet to brainstorm ways to achieve Russia’s technological leadership in the global market by 2035.

This year, on May 15-19, the Foresight Fleet met once again, but this time we saw it first-hand. Deputy editor in-chief of Russia Direct Pavel Koshkin participated in the event, spoke to the developers of the initiative and gathered expert opinions from representatives of business, government and academia that participated in the event. This Russia Direct Issue answers key questions about the new Initiative, explains how it is different from previous projects, and explores whether it is something that can be potentially implemented and what problems might hamper the realization of ideas from its participants.

In this special Issue you will find a variety of opinions from Russian and foreign experts including Evgeny Kuznetsov, deputy director of the Russian Venture Company (RVC), and Kendrick White, U.S. entrepreneur and advisor to the rector at Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod. They share their takes on the key challenges facing the Russian technology sector today and examined ways for Russia to become a global technology leader.

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