31 October Dmitry Azarov, acting Governor of Samara Oblast, visited the new YellowRockets coworking space. The largest office for ambitious innovative projects, set up by the team of StartupSamara, a regional innovations centre, opened for business this autumn.
A coworking space is a shared working environment for business people and startup teams. It is a large open-plan office, where residents with different expertise and skills exchange their best practices and ideas, which eventually helps in finding sophisticated solutions to problems.
YellowRockets currently has 14 residents; the coworking space will be occupied to capacity before the year is out. YellowRockets plans to set up a coworking chain in the province and then expand throughout Russia and beyond.
The experience of the YellowRockets team shows this is doable. It is they who set up, with active assistance from Economic Development, Investment and Trade Ministry of Samara Oblast, the StartupSamara Regional Innovations Centre, to provide support to startups and would-be business people, and technology transfer. StartupSamara already has in its portfolio more than a thousand startups; the last two years have seen regional projects receive twice the investment they had in the preceding 20 years. The total annual earnings of government subsidy beneficiaries exceed 2 bln rbl.; more than 850 high-tech jobs have been created. The Samara Oblast’s best practices in building an innovation ecosystem have been included by the RF Economic Development Ministry in the corpus of best practices.
In the course of the interview, Dmitry Azarov showed interest in the best practices of running acceleration programmes. Samara is hosting a startup accelerator initiated by Economic Development, Investment and Trade Ministry of Samara Oblast (EDTMSO) in the interests of the aerospace cluster of Samara Oblast. The acting governor suggested applying these best practices to other regional clusters as well.
Sergey Bogdanov, the founder of YellowRockets, told Dmitry Azarov about working with private investors and business angels. They provide seed money and help with their experience and connections alike. Samara sees Business Angel Workshops held on a regular basis, and in the autumn of 2016 the region hosted an international business angel congress, which brought together more than three hundred people – private investors from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Portugal, Israel and other countries.
Another issue was raised during discussions in the coworking space — the implementation of blockchain-based solutions. Dmitry Azarov agreed that that was a promising technology and tasked the regional economic development, investment and trade ministry with arranging a working meeting to explore the issues involved in implementing blockchain solutions within the Samara Oblast.