Hugh Pickens writes "Russia's rich scientific traditions and poor record of converting ideas into marketable products are both undisputed, cited as causes for the Soviet collapse and crippling dependence on mining and petroleum. Now the NY Times reports that the Russian government, hoping to diversify its economy away from oil, is building the first new scientific city since the collapse of the Soviet Union modeled, improbably, on Silicon Valley and jokingly referred to as Cupertino-2. 'The whole country needs some sort of breakthrough,' says Viktor F. Vekselberg, the Russian business oligarch appointed co-director of the project. 'The founding of the innovation city, in form and substance, could be a launching pad for the country as a whole.' The new town is intended to advance five scientific priorities — communications, biomedicine, space, nuclear power, and energy conservation — and to encourage cross-fertilization among disciplines. Property will not be owned, but rented, and the government will offer grants for scientists who struggle to find private financing. Once developed, the city is intended to incubate scientific ideas using generous tax holidays and government grants until the start-ups can become profitable companies. Its backers in government and the private sector describe it as an effort to blend the Soviet tradition of forming scientific towns with Western models of encouraging technology ventures around universities. 'In California, the climate is beautiful and they don't have the ridiculous problems of Russia,' says Andrey Shtorkh, publicist for the new venture, adding that to compete, Russia will form a place apart for scientists. 'They should be isolated from our reality.'"
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