The pioneering spirit at public expense

For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia is building a new city. Innopolis to become an innovative technological center of the country. IT specialists attract beneficial conditions. Handelsblatt — the visit to the city.

On Anton Trentine home Slippers, his round face with soft features framed by fair hair. But this impression of comfort is deceptive, Trentin — businessman. In his 30 years he has founded two start-up Internet platform for trading in seafood and “Innosoft”, a company that offers software solutions for online trading. Trantina 14 employees. An IT specialist is not settled in Moscow, as you might expect, but approximately 800 miles to the West, in Innopolis.

If Trantino lucky, his choice of a place of residence, it soon will no longer seem so exotic. Because in the oil-rich Republic of Tatarstan in 2012, is based that in the future should become the IT capital of Russia- in any case, hope city planners and politicians. Not only the name of the city, but the scope of the project to the European ear sounds like science fiction. By 2035, the Innopolis must live and work more than 155 thousand people, 60 thousand of them have to be for IT specialists.

Inspiration from Asia

It may succeed, but only if young, well-trained specialists and their families will be offered more than just a job. The pioneers need housing, current urban infrastructure, modern offices and the opportunity for leisure activities. And all this as quickly as possible. But to plan a city of this size is a daunting task that requires time.

The majority of Innopolis is a construction site. The one who enters the city, he sees bare ground and cranes towering glass facades. But infrastructure functions: the University is a kindergarten, school, swimming pool, mini supermarket and more recently even a bar. White, equipped with climate control, free buses that transported residents of Innopolis in the city of Kazan and back, the way to which is 40 kilometers, similar to the Google buses-Shuttle, which carry employees from San Francisco to mountain view. Buses are very necessary, because in Innopolis employs over two thousand people, but the city is home to not more than 100.

To the question about the Parallels with Silicon valley Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan, shakes his head. No one can one to one to repeat the success of the California IT cluster. “We need to come up with something new, he says. But we learn from Silicon valley how local businesses attract clever brains”. When the town is more focused on Asia than the US. This is evidenced by the choice of the architect Liu Thai ker, chief architect of Innopolis. In the 1980-ies, he was responsible for the modernization of Singapore.

About Singapore resembles and regional policy of the Republic of Tatarstan. As in the mini-state in Southeast Asia, the Russian government actively intervenes in the economy. In the financial sector it is the driving force of Innopolis. By 2015 the Russian government has invested 15 billion rubles of start-up capital in infrastructure of high technology in total the project will cost 66 billion. A third of which will be paid from the state budget. The rest of the money, as, for example, to open in 2012 private University of the city, going from private investors. For a region whose economy is primarily based on the refining industry and engineering, Innopolis offers the chance to make the economy more diverse because the government’s strategy stipulates that by 2030 innovative technology needs to be up to 35% of the total economy.

Cheap accommodation

IT professionals like Anton Trantin, will benefit from the state’s zeal for innovation and will be provided for residents of other regions of Russia are very expensive. The rent of the apartment where he lives with his wife and daughter, is 10 thousand rubles a month, about 160 euros. In Kazan, which is 40 miles away, he most likely could get for the money Studio apartment in the old “Khrushchev,” the 70-ies. And in Innopolis he has 76 square meters fully furnished new building.

This is possible because the shelter in 2016 funded by the housing construction Fund of the Republic of Tatarstan. Previously, housing had to engage a private Moscow-based company, but the rent of 20-25 thousand rubles (320-400 euros) was not sufficiently attractive for the relocation of IT-specialists in Innopolis.

For Anton Trantina crucial in the decision about moving was not only the best housing, but the mood in the city: “We feel like pioneers” — admires it. And politics is very close to the residents of Innopolis. Everyone here knows each other. Chat Telegram — varieties of WhatsApp — which allegedly involved the Minister of communications Nikolay Nikiforov, “innopolicy” agree about cooking and discuss the development of the project.

Of course, the entrance to this world is available to few: in the posh buildings of the Innopolis can only enter those who work in a local business, he is the founder of the enterprise or a student in a local University.

Therefore, the Innopolis reminds Maxim Avdeev closed from the outside world of the city from the Soviet era, which are detached from the world scientists could work on their ideas. “Here is a little boring,” concludes Avdeev, who works for the Russian venture Fund “life Environment”. He came to Russia to create a “Inspirussia”, the company, which should help to grow young companies working in financial technology.

Attractive tax benefits

On the first plan in the list of Innopolis is to attract foreign investors. “We need to integrate into the world economy and become competitive,” again and again emphasized by the President of Tatarstan Minnikhanov. A proven means of increasing attractiveness is a significant tax reduction is applied in Innopolis. The one who carries his business in the city and become part of a special economic zone, and therefore, until 2018, his income is not taxed. Enterprises are exempt from land tax and property tax.

With this strategy of Tatarstan until now, operated well in such traditional industries as machinery and petrochemicals. Special economic zone Alabuga which is just 250 kilometers from Innopolis, is the most successful among their own kind in the whole of Russia.

Will it work this strategy and in Innopolis, remains in question. Although the designers hope that half of the offices will be occupied by foreigners, the reality still looks different. Among 90 enterprises, settled in Innopolis, only two came from abroad. The bulk of enterprises created and raised in Russia.


“In Silicon valley we learn to attract smart minds. When the town was an example of Asia”, — said Rustam Minnikhanov, President of Tatarstan.

View into the stairwell of the University: by 2035 in Innopolis must live and work 155 thousand people, 60 thousand of them — IT professionals.

The building of the University in Innopolis: open to 2012 high school gave a start to the development of the city.

Anton Trentin: 30-year-old founder of the company with his wife and daughter first moved to Innopolis.