Innovative market expected to face significant changes

It’s likely that a major project comparable to nuclear power station construction or High-Tech Park — in terms of investment volume and scale — will soon be launched in Belarus

By Aleksander Bogomazov

Another ‘Silicon Valley’ is planned for the country, called BelBiograd and uniting companies operating in the fields of pharmaceutics, nano- and bio-technologies. At least 2bn Euros are to be injected into its establishment and the creation of necessary infrastructure. However, specialists are convinced that it will quickly pay for itself.

The Head of the Science and Innovative Policy Department at the Economy Ministry, Dmitry Krupsky, confirms that BelBiograd is already included on Belarus’ 2011-2015 State Social-Economic Development Programme. The project’s initial draft has received approval from all key agencies and is expected to be studied by the Government by late summer.

“Initially, we thought of naming our sci-tech park Biograd but later leant that Croatia has a city of a similar name: Biograd Na Moru. So, we added a prefix and slightly ‘nationalised’ the name,” says Mr. Krupsky. “So far, several scientific-research institutions operate in Belarus covering the sphere of BelBiograd’s major focus; among them is the Institute of Microbiology at the National Academy of Sciences — whose developments are the basis for various production enterprises in the real sector of the economy.”

The Economy Ministry hopes that western pharmaceutical companies will be attracted by the profitable legal conditions granted to investors — similar to those given to High-Tech Park residents; moreover, privileged tax rates may be an incentive. Belarus’ joining of the Customs Union is another attraction. “Investors well understand that the project will enable them to join a market boasting around 165m consumers,” explains Mr. Krupsky. 

It’s expected that the establishment of a sci-tech park in the country will help Belarus if not double its GDP then significantly advance in supplying science intensive and competitive products to global markets. BelBiograd is to include the construction of office and scientific-research buildings in Minsk, integrated into the Belarusian-Chinese Industrial Park. It will feature administrative blocks and infrastructure, in addition to residential accommodation. A centre for the collective use of equipment will also operate. 

Importantly, Minsk won’t be the only venue for the project. As Mr. Krupsky explains, three regional industrial zones are to be established in the country, each boasting its own specialisation. One is to focus on pharmaceutical production and industrial bio-technologies; the second is to tackle bio-technologies in the agro-industrial sphere and the third will oversee nano-products. It’s already known that two industrial zones are to border regional cities.

Talks are currently underway with Russian companies who are keen to work at BelBiograd. Agreements of intentions are expected to be signed soon and, according to estimations, each BelBiograd project will be worth at least $100m. The Economy Ministry is convinced that the park’s establishment will positively influence the development of innovative infrastructure in the country.

At present, Belarus — known for its rich science intensive potential within the post-Soviet space — lacks innovatively active enterprises: only 381 were registered in 2010. Meanwhile, in line with the recently signed 2011-2015 State Innovative Development Programme, no less than a thousand of them should operate. According to the document, the number of scientific-production centres and holdings are to rise from 40 to 60. Ten more technology transfer centres are to be set up (reaching a total of 45). Three venture organisations, 15 engineering companies (instead of the present 10) and 30 design bureaus are to appear. Mr. Krupsky considers that a new law on the development of the country’s intellectual property market shall also contribute to the growth of Belarus’ innovative potential. In particular, investors will gain the right to own part of the scientific-research and design works they have financed. Later, they’ll have the right to buy the firm from whichever state organisation has also participated in financing. This move should seriously change the situation on the intellectual property market.

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