MOSCOW OFFICIAL

Life, Luxembourg style: Education plus innovation

At the end of June, Luxembourg hosted a conference called “Moscow - the city of business and innovations.”

It’s tough to find two cities that are more different that the capital of Russia and the capital of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. They are, to put it mildly, in entirely different weight categories. Here is one fact: there are 15 million people living in Moscow, and 180,000 living in Luxembourg. Nonetheless, the cities have a long-standing relationship. Recently, this relationship has strengthened. This happened during a two-day visit of the Moscow Government delegation, headed by the Moscow Government minister, head of the Department for External Economic and International Relations (DVMS) Sergey Cheremin. The delegation was in town to participate in a conference called “Moscow - the city of business and innovations.”

Before the conference, the delegation visited the Ministry of Economy of Luxembourg, where issues of economic development of both cities and countries were discussed. Turns out that, in spite of differences, we have things in common: both Moscow and Luxembourg have recently started to diversify their economies. Both sides are actively looking toward innovative projects across different areas, which makes the two cities even more alike.

The conversation that began in the Ministry continued during the conference, which took place at the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg – one of the oldest chambers of commerce in Europe, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.

Jeannot Erpelding, Director of International Affairs at Chamber of Commerce in Luxembourg, gave the opening address. He noted that there has been an increase in mutual interest between Luxembourg and Moscow.

During his speech, Sergey Cheremin urged business people to not pay much attention to what the Western media writes about Moscow, since the published information rarely has much to do with reality. The capital of Russia is not the gloomy, grey city that is often depicted in the press. Today, Moscow is one of the biggest modern megacities in the world, with a population of 15 million people, a stable budget of 26 billion euros and an actively developing city infrastructure. The minister pointed to major projects such as the unprecedented improvements to the road transport system, grandiose reconstruction of the areas around the Moscow River and significant increase in the number of technoparks in the capital.

“There are enormous opportunities for foreign investors in Moscow,” Sergey Cheremin pointed out. It is no surprise that the capital of Russia has significantly improved many indicators in the “Doing Business” rating, which illustrates that the Government of Moscow is serious about attracting foreign investment.

Ian Cresswell, deputy head of International Partnerships at Luxinnovation, said that cooperation on innovative projects with Moscow technoparks is a “win-win situation.”

Representatives of the Department of Science, Industrial Policy and Entrepreneurship of the City of Moscow gave a presentation on investment and innovative opportunities in Russia.

Anatoly Valetov, Deputy Head of the DVMS, was a moderator for the round table.

Russian Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Viktor Sorokin participated in the conference.

During the visit to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Sergey Cheremin met with the CEO of Luxembourg for Finance Nicolas Mackel. The two sides discussed the implementation of the cooperation agreement between the Government of Moscow and The Agency for the Development of the Financial Centre Luxembourg for Finance, as well as potential for cooperation on promoting the Russian capital as an international financial center.

The Moscow delegation also visited LuxFuture Lab, a unique school/laboratory that helps young entrepreneurs acquire the knowledge necessary to do business and finances startups that have a lot of potential. After exchanging opinions, the participants of the meeting agreed that there are two things at the foundation of any successful project: original ideas plus commitment.

A business meeting at Mangrove Capital Partners Headquarters, one of the largest venture funds in Europe, took place on the sidelines of the conference. David Waroquier and Mark Tluszcz, both company executives that have long-term ties with the Russian capital (primarily in e-commerce), said that they have invested about $200 million into various projects in Russia and do not plan on stopping. Among other things, they talked about a new project with the Moscow government.

The conversation was about establishing a joint investment fund, which representatives from Mangrove Capital Partners have already discussed with Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin and received his approval and support. Unfortunately, the project is not moving along as quickly as they had hoped. A major reason for this are the economic sanctions imposed by the West. “However, even given this challenging situation, we are not sitting idly by,” Waroquier said, “As we have a lot of experience on the Russian market, we are actively working with different universities in Moscow, as well as technoparks and technopolises that are popping up in the city almost every day. We have incredible, talented people and we are trying to teach them what to do, teach them how to sell themselves and their products.”

“Today there are truly incredible opportunities for foreign investment in Moscow,” Sergey Cheremin said during the meeting, “transport infrastructure in the city is radically changing, modern roads are being constructed, there convenient flyovers, pedestrian areas and new metro lines, and huge new territories that became a part of Moscow three years ago are gradually being assimilated.”

So far as sanctions are concerned, according to the minister, they are “a temporary phenomenon, and will be lifted in the near future.” The head od the DVMS noted that his confidence is based on conversations with Western politicians from various levels of government that he has met with in Moscow and various European capitals.

The position of the Government of Moscow is simple and clear, Sergey Cheremin said toward the end of the hour-long meeting: “No matter what, it is pointless to wait for the sanctions to be lifted. When it happens, it will be more difficult for investors to enter the Russian market.”

 

 

CAPITAL IDEAS

Founder: Department for External Economic and International Relations of the Government of Moscow

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