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Long-awaited chance. Russian start-ups thrive under sanctions

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Anti-Russian sanctions have not only boosted agriculture. Residents of business-incubators of the Northern Capital can enjoy a breath of fresh air too. There are numerous enterprises now offering some brave ideas. Mariya Marchenko found out – it also benefits the city’s budget

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A step closer to eternal youth. Mask from artificial skin is an innovative product of the city’s first business-incubator resident. It is already a hit among cosmetologists and their clients.

Valentina Kudryavtseva, patient: “Everybody tells me I look good. The skin is shiny, smooth. Its hard to describe it with words, you have to see. It’s a wonder!”

Thin as a paper plates are made of hyaluronic acid, collagen and elastin – components of our skin. That’s why this coating can also heal wounds, without being rejected by one’s body. The innovation is already being used to treat burns. Painful bandaging is no longer needed. The bio-skin dissolves, forming a scab. The invention was to be promoted in Europe, but sanctions imposed against Russia have opened new markets.

Konstantin Redkin, director of development in the bio-skin manufacturing company: “We are actively working on finding partners in the Customs Union countries. And the 1st contracts we’ve signed are with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. This is our commercial success”

The wonder-skin was created in Orenburg University, but the project was developed in St. Petersburg – with the help of the city’s first business-incubator – a launching pad for ideas. Innovative companies which have been registered in the Northern Capital for not more than 2 years become its residents.

Mariya Marchenko, reporter: “The business-incubator creates the environment for the residents’ development – there are provided with discounted-lease offices, consultations with experts and orders from enterprises. In 3 years, when a project becomes healthy and strong, its released out into open seas. More than a half survives in the market”

One of the lucky ones – Emelyan Gamarts. He set up manufacturing of gas sensors within the incubator – the ones used to control harmful emissions during extraction and transportation of oil. The company hopes that thinks to import-replacement program, these devices will replace the foreign ones at factories and mines across the country.

Emelyan Gamarts, PhD: “Thanks to sanctions, we will expand our output. We will take advantage of this. We can expand it by three, eight or ten times”

Twenty men work like a major state factory. They have learnt the effectiveness from their colleagues in France. But their Russian characters still show through – every now and then they throw a sad glance at reassuring banners.

Neighboring offices have another 70 startups – from mobile apps creation for children development to manufacturing super-durable furniture. Despite severe economic situation and potential deficit of the city’s budget by 50 billion rubles next year, authorities have no plans to curb the program of support to small businesses.

Maxim Meiksin, chairman of industrial policy and innovations committee: “Even if it didn’t bring revenue, the project would have still been operational. Somebody did invent Facebook and Windows. It’s important to create a system of support for talented youths and stimulate their projects”

St. Petersburg is not a Silicon Valley. But business-incubators have already brought revenue. Last year, the “Ingriya” brought 250 million rubles into the budget – 5 times more than the city had spent on it. Those who just launched their business here, it seems, have accustomed to the new economic realities quicker than others. For startupers, sanctions are the chance they had been waiting for – to earn profit and push the big and the non-flexible competitors off the market.  

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