Nanotech Center: what, where, when?

Nanotech Center: what, where, when?

A year ago, Victor SIDNEV, the former Head of Troitsk and one of the patriarchs of the experts’ club “What? Where? When?”, sent to the Agency of Strategic Initiatives a project of a modern technopark for his town.

The Nanotech Center: what, where, when?Supervisory Board of the ASI under the chairmanship of the then Prime Minister Vladimir PUTIN issued a decision to create such a technopolis on the basis of the Lebedev Physical Institute of the RAS.

While the Russian Academy of Sciences is delaying with the transfer of its territories, the town in cooperation with Rusnanotech JSC builds the TechnoSpark Nanotech Center near the village of Krasnaya Pakhra. The investments are equal to USD 30 million.

With the Mayor on friendly footing

While staying in Troitsk, one can see that it is not an ordinary town near Moscow. There is so much greenery here that it is hard to distinguish some of the panel five-storied buildings from away. There are few cars and mostly young people and moms with their kids in the streets. The secret life, which determines the status of the town as the Science Town, is hidden inside the ten buildings surrounded by steel fences – the scientific-research institutes.
“Just in the late 1970s, the perfect environment for life was formed in Troitsk. This was a special place with the spirit of freedom in the air. Okudzhava and Vysotsky gave concerts here, and we went to the performances of Zhvanetsky,” – Victor Sidnev, the Director of the TechnoSpark Nanotech Center, recalls, “American sociologists say: every man on earth is acquainted with the President of the United States through a maximum of four people. Our residents are familiar with the Mayor of Troitsk through one or two people. One can easily meet the Head of the town in the street and discuss with him any vital questions.”

For more than thirty years, Victor Sidnev himself has been known by every Russian as one of the masters of the “What? Where? When?” game. However, during these years he managed not only to keep winning the Crystal Owl, but also to conduct business activities and head the Science Town of Troitsk. Now Viktor Vladimirovich has entered the new stage of his life – the development of one of the first nanotech centers in the country.

“Of course, when in 1989 I was going to leave for California to teach people in the school situated in the Silicon Valley, there was no science-based business in Troitsk yet,” – Mr. Sidnev says, “Having returned a year later, I became eager to work with innovations. In 1997, my partners and I established the first company in Russia, which launched a citywide network of broadband Internet access in the country. Unfortunately, at that time we got ahead of the market, as there was no demand for such a product: existing Internet access speed was enough to send an e-mail and chat. Broadband Internet would allow watching video and viewing images, which the Internet did not have at that time. Then we created a social network within the town – the Troitsk network community – to make the people, especially the young people, interested in using our services”.

After a short while, the company was sold and its owners and investors earned millions of dollars. Now Victor Sidnev is planning to use the gained experience to, according to his own words, “do this again,” that is, to create a company from scratch and develop it to a high level.

“Science is the transformation of money into knowledge. Innovation is the transformation of knowledge into money. These are completely different approaches and competences related to the ability to commercialize scientific developments. One must understand the market, the demand, and have skills of cost reduction. When people from the RAS say: “Give us money and we will get engaged in innovations”, I do not find it to be a constructive approach,” – Victor Sidnev says, “And no official may be engaged in innovations. It contradicts the essence of the state service.”

Devil’s mathematics

From the top of the hill, on which the village of Krasnaya Pakhra is located, one will have a view overlooking the new construction area. In the communal and warehouse area of Troitsk two buildings of the Nanotech Center are being erected, which are scheduled to be put into service by the New Year. The foundation of the third building is just being laid. The ground floors of the buildings will be occupied by production facilities with modern equipment and the second floors – by offices. Just next summer, first companies will move here, which presently have to hire premises in the Research Institutes of the town. Initially, only 150 specialists will be able to get employed in the Nanotech Center. Thus, we get the “devil’s math”: one working place will cost 666,666 rubles 66 kopecks…

The total area of three buildings will be 10 thousand square meters. Meanwhile, this construction would not be necessary at all: the Lebedev Physical Institute of the RAS has about 50 thousand square meters of empty area. Moreover, behind the construction fence there are unfinished buildings of the RAS, which have not been used for the last 25 years and are overgrown with tall trees.

The Troitsk Administration can observe a good example –the establishment of a technopark in the Novosibirsk Akademgorodok on the land confiscated from the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This incubator is considered to be one of the most successful in Russia; and Troitsk wants to repeat the success of the Siberians. When the areas of the RAS become part of the new technopark, its total area will be approximately six times larger than the area of the presently constructed buildings – 100-120 thousand square meters. This will create jobs for 2,500 people.

Generator of new technologies

The main scientific strong points of Troitsk, which the city plans to put into commercial operation, include particularly laser units with ultra-short pulses, which can be used, for example, for medical needs. The other point is the production of artificial diamonds, which surpass the natural ones in terms of quality. It may seem that the city is a footstep away from the unimaginable wealth, but it is not so. Natural stones have not fallen in price, because any specialist can easily distinguish a natural product from a «replica» at least by their age. Nevertheless, artificial diamond does not contain any impurities, and therefore, the scope of its use is much wider. For example, an ordinary PC user will soon experience the advantages of artificial diamonds.

“The power of your computer is limited to the thermal conductivity of silicon elements of the chip. Sometimes failing to withdraw the heat, the chip starts collapsing. The transition from silicon electronics to the diamond-based one is the perspective of the nearest future,” – Victor Sidnev says.

In addition, the project of creation of powerful sources of ultraviolet radiation is being actively developed in Troitsk, which is especially important for computer chip production.