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Projects for the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI)

14 July 2011

The roundtable entitled “ASI Project Augmentation: Project Selection and Promotion” unfolded as a true brainstorming session. The event featured the active participation of Alexander Misharin, Governor of Sverdlovsk Region, representatives from SME businesses in the Russian regions participating in the nationwide competition for ASI senior management positions, bankers and journalists. Under the leadership of moderator Anna Belova, discussion participants debated the selection criteria for projects and initiatives poised for ASI involvement, as well as the proper niche for the new organization. The roundtable featured a videoconference with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Opening the discussion, Vnesheconombank (VEB) representative Mikhail Poluboyarinov proposed an algorithm for coordination between VEB and the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. He expressed the view that the ASI should be regarded as the central authority for project evaluation. Projects should initially be evaluated by the Agency and then forwarded to the Bank for expert appraisal and investor “packaging.” Upon their return to the ASI, projects could then vie for state subsidies.

Roundtable participants suggested that the scope of Agency activities encompass strategic, socially-significant projects suitable for subsequent replication. Proposals to support export-oriented, import-substituting projects geared towards saturation of the labor market were also voiced.

The debate on project selection criteria grew into a discussion of the strategy and functionality of the Agency itself. Which strategic model should the new organization adopt? Some voiced the opinion that the ASI should become an instrument for the country’s technological advancement, while others argued that the Agency’s chief raison d’etre involves its creation of a social network for SME business coordination. Many roundtable participants spoke in support of the ASI focusing its attentions on socially-oriented projects in education, medicine and culture.

In his welcoming remarks to roundtable participants, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin observed that the idea to create the Agency for Strategic Initiatives had been met with wide support. He noted that the ASI had received more than one thousand proposals covering the Agency’s three main activity areas – mid-sized business support, professional qualifications, and support for social initiatives. Vladimir Putin expressed the hope that the Agency would become “an additional and powerful tool in widening the path for those who strive to turn their ideas into reality – for those full of the energy and drive to implement projects they deem important for themselves, for their business, and for their country.”

Sverdlovsk Region Governor Alexander Misharin underscored the fact that the Innoprom Expo has emerged as a platform for the discussion, development and formation of new initiatives. The first working day of the Expo has evolved into ASI Day. More than two hundred participants in the Agency’s nationwide competition are taking part in various session work, where the ASI model, structure and functionality are under discussion. Alexander Misharin also announced that within the framework of Innoprom events, the first major infrastructure project involving the development of an SME cluster got underway in Ekaterinburg today.

Wrapping up roundtable discussions, moderator Anna Belova named the main types of projects which, form the standpoint of business, should be encompassed by ASI activities: network infrastructure, investment and informational projects.

In Belova’s estimation, the people taking part in the discussion of the target model for the Agency for Strategic Initiatives at the Innoprom Expo represent a true resource for the country’s ongoing modernization.

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