Skoltech: Once Named the Next Silicon Valley, Now a Future of Unknowns

Quinn Hughes, Science & Tech Editor

 

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has pulled out of a large deal with one of the leading research technology institutes of Moscow – Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology – citing their objection to the recent Russian military transgressions against Ukraine as the catalyst for this change.

 

About a decade ago, “MIT partnered with the nonprofit Skolkovo Foundation in 2011 to establish the research university as part of a Russian government effort to create a science and technology hub akin to California’s Silicon Valley or Massachusetts’ Kendall Square” (APNews).

 

Several postdoctoral students and professors traveled to Moscow to initiate work in ongoing projects to establish the Skolkovo Institute while also contributing to the plethora of research for the deal.

 

Located in Northern California, Silicon Valley serves as the largest technology hub of the United States. It is also one of the world’s largest technology corporations, with headquarters to more than 30 international businesses including Apple, Wells Fargo and VISA. It also serves as the breeding ground for several thousand tech startup companies.

 

For Russia, the benefits of creating a technology hub include access to greater technology assets as well as a boost to their economy and job market. Likewise, it would increase interest in these subjects at large research institutions that would boost employment opportunities and modernize technological advances in Russia.

 

However, the project – Skoltech – is currently at a standstill. MIT’s opposition to Russia’s recent military action in Ukraine has led them to pulling out of the multi-billion dollar deal from the Skoltech project. This move was not entirely surprising.

 

“Federal law enforcement officials and foreign policy experts have long voiced concerns about the potential for espionage and technology theft arising from MIT’s partnership with the school, which has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government”, GBH News reported.

 

Despite being under scrutiny before, MIT extended their deal with this Russian technology deal, but have since revoked any further planning and work with the association for multiple reasons, primarily Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and ongoing cybersecurity threats.

 

It is unclear what future Skoltech has in Moscow. For now, the public can infer that the Russians will continue their project for the prospect of its many benefits, but in a time of chaos and uncertainty, the future of Russia’s technology hub is filled with unknowns.