It's like another Silicon Valley, just 20 miles outside of Moscow.
Hopkinton-based EMC Corp. recently announced a new R&D center in an innovation hub in Russia, run by a locally-based foundation, to develop cloud infrastructure solutions and big data analytics. The focus will be on bioinformatics - enabling quicker, more accurate and larger studies of biological data for the medical field - and energy efficiency.
Results of work that goes on there in the Moscow suburb of Skolkovo, said Joel Schwartz, EMC senior vice president and general manager of global new business development, could change the world.
"I fundamentally believe work done there will change the world's use of energy and significantly improve healthcare," he said of the agreement he signed in Moscow recently with Viktor Vekselberg, president of the Skolkovo Foundation, which will run the site.
In the mid-1990s, EMC started doing business with Russia. It opened an R&D facility in St. Petersburg in 2007, according to Schwartz, and talks for this new R&D center began about a year ago. This facility will work closely with the St. Petersburg site.
The Skolkovo Foundation is a nonprofit working to set up a hub for entrepreneurship that will benefit Russia - and the global economy - in these key areas: power engineering and energy efficiency; space; bioinformatics; nuclear and computer technologies. EMC's goals fit these priority focus areas.
The Skolkovo Foundation came up with the innovation hub concept a few years ago, said Schwartz. It's more than just a place for companies to set up shop.
"The idea is not to just have multinationals come in, but to build a startup infrastructure," he said, which would include homes, universities and funding, as well as collaborative relationships with universities, other companies and government agencies.
While the EMC plan meets the Russian innovation hub's priority areas, the company is benefiting from the math and science knowledge of the country, said Schwartz, tapping into existing talent. Math and science expertise, used in the Cold War to contribute to military efforts, didn't just go away, said Schwartz.
This project, Schwartz said, is different than other ventures in Russia, as interests on both sides are represented. "That's the difference," he said. "We're building whole environments to support priorities" for EMC, Russia and the global economy.
EMC also aims to serve as a data cloud infrastructure provider for the Skolkovo hub and collaborate on research with Russian agencies, universities and other companies in Skolkovo, the company said in a press release.
The next step is construction, said Schwartz. Buildings will go up in 2014 with occupancy expected late in thyear and into 2015. Hiring will begin immediately for 50 workers, spread out over the next couple of years, he said.