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How can one sell an idea?

15 July 2011

Today we have a paradoxical situation in Russia: there are few financial institutions supporting innovative business, and even less companies - applicants for the receipt of venture capital.

The companies still do not know how to prepare competent investment projects, and venture capital infrastructure in our country is still emerging. Participants of a discussion “Venture financing: Deficit of projects and deficit of financial infrastructure” tried to go beyond the listing of problems and formulate some mechanisms of their solution.

According to the Director of New Markets Department of MICEX Denis Pryanichnikov the main “venture” problem is related to the lack of sufficient research underlying the pension reform. The lack of “long” money in Russia results in the fact that many companies look for investors in the West. In addition it is necessary to expand the investors’ base for private clients, who in addition to being poorly informed, have a very poor legal protection today.

Interesting numbers were quoted by Sergey Kozhukhar, Director of Investor Relations of Skolkovo Fund. According to him the size of the European venture capital market in 2009 was $25 billion, whereas the respective Russian market was only $20 million. Sergey Kozhukhar believed that investors must focus not only on providing money for innovators, but also create additional stimuli, making it attractive to the borrowers; it could be the required infrastructure for research or tax benefits.

Gennady Medetsky, the Executive Director of JSC “Innovation Synergy” stressed that the main problem was the lack of entrepreneurial teams among the developers, and by way of assistance in “search for each other” proposed setting up a Russian register of entrepreneurs regardless of the type of their business. And the financiers according to Gennady Medetsky faced the task of creating for the innovators a clear and transparent financial scheme. Another problem was that our developers today concentrated mostly on the domestic market, and the main task was to turn our projects around to the global markets, which were more attractive for investors.

These proposals were supported by Arsen Khusnutdinov, the head of “RTKOMM” project, who explained that today there was an obvious mistrust on the part of innovators to the financial institutions. The developers need to improve their financial literacy, and the financiers – become more open.

There were also problems typical for the Russian mentality. These problems were discussed by the managing partner of the legal company Incor Alliance Law Office Igor Basargin. In the first place this was related to the excess expectations on both sides, second – unwillingness of the developers to act at the international level, i.e. prepare their documents in accordance with the international standards (reporting standards, presentations, the required corporate governance format). According to Igor Basargin until we have a properly documented legal practice, the “rules of the game” for both the financiers and the developers, there can hardly be any progress.

The ideas voices during the discussion will be summarized and, in all probability, will be used by the government development institutions and venture funds in their practical work.

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