The Skolkovo innovation city is gearing up to host its biggest event of the year on June 6-7: the giant outdoor two-day Startup Village, a conference and exhibition for tech entrepreneurs and investors from all over the world.
This year’s headline speakers include Nicolas Brusson, CEO of BlaBlaCar, the unicorn ridesharing service; Slava Rubin, the founder of the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com; and Rob Neivert, a venture partner at 500 Startups, the Californian seed accelerator.
For startups and budding entrepreneurs, there will be practical sessions on raising a round in Silicon Valley and tips on fundraising basics by 500 Startups’ Neivert, while other sessions are tailored to investors, such as the one titled “Markets of the Future: What to Invest In Today to Build a Company Worth a Billion by 2025.”
Other topics up for discussion at numerous stages and spaces around the village include robotics and artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, space, genome editing, the Internet of Things, smart cities, medical breakthroughs and fintech.
A glimpse of the future will be available at the Startup Bazaar, an exhibition of about 150 cutting-edge tech products and services from around the world, including those produced by resident startups of the Skolkovo Foundation. The wonders on show range from prototypes to finished goods, and this year include a quantum cryptography device, a microbiome analysis system, an Internet of Underwater Things system, a fitness tracker for pets, and a hybrid aeroboat. Visitors to the Startup Village can test the inventions on show, meet the projects’ founders and assess their commercial potential.
Investors and startups can arrange meetings both during the Startup Village and in advance via the Matchmaking service available on the Startup Village website and app.
“There are absolutely fabulous investment opportunities,” Pekka Viljakainen, a Finnish advisor to Skolkovo Foundation president Victor Vekselberg and the driving force behind the Startup Village, told Sk.ru in an interview ahead of the event.
Other startups will be pitching their ideas and products to the crowds in two competitions: the Ideas Contest, which has three categories, and the Contest for Companies, which has 10 categories. The teams that take the first, second and third places in the Contest for Companies will receive 5 million, 3 million and 2 million rubles ($35,000-$88,000) respectively. The winners of each category of the Ideas Contest will receive 1 million rubles each. The semifinal of the competition will feature more than 200 startups, 33 of which were selected by experts in the Russian regions during the Open Innovations Startup Tour, a series of events held across Russia and neighbouring countries earlier this year to identify promising startups.
For visitors interested in another aspect of what the future holds in store, there will be a zone dedicated to virtual and augmented reality, with more than 30 hardware and software solutions being demonstrated, including a climbing wall, VR helmet and mobile tracking system, for applications ranging from industry to education and entertainment.
On both days of the event, there will be showings of short films related to tech and the future. There is also a separate programme for kids, with workshops, excursions, competitions, and copters delivering sweets from the air.
More than 15,000 people are due to attend this year’s Startup Village – now in its fifth year – including more than 4,000 startups and more than 1,000 investors from over 60 countries.