Oct. 27, 2011
BOSTON — On October 26, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced a historic agreement with a Russian government–sponsored foundation to build a world-class graduate school of technology, known as SkTech, just outside Moscow.
The Skolkovo Institute of Technology is being built on farmland about 40 miles outside of Moscow. As WGBH reported several weeks ago, the project is being hailed as a watershed moment in Russia’s post–Cold War development — and MIT is taking part of the credit.
MIT President Susan Hockfield, in Moscow for the signing, said that MIT is committed to “bringing together Russian, U.S. and global research and technology, and in integrating teaching, research, innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Alexey Sitnikov, the foundation’s executive director of academic development, explained why another graduate university similar to MIT or CalTech is needed in Russia.
The country already has a technological institute — but it was founded in the middle of the last century, Sitnikov said, and since then “we haven’t created a university of a truly international caliber, competitive on the international level, [that’s] able to create and commercialize technology.”
The agreement between MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation to develop SkTech will take place over three years. MIT scientists, engineers and other professionals will travel back and forth to Russia to work and conduct research. They will find the going easy: The government is relaxing visa restrictions for those associated with the project.
The new institution will offer master’s degrees and doctorates in five critical priority areas, Sitnikov said: “Biotechnology, information technology, space technology, communication and nuclear technology.”
Edward Crawley, an MIT professor of engineering, will be SkTech’s first president.
MIT and the Skolkovo Foundation — which was set up to spur this very kind of initiative — have also committed to building Skolkovo Innovation City on the same dry patch of land. The innovation city is being compared to both Kendall Square and Silicon Valley. One of MIT’s long-term goals is to profit from the joint venture through the development of new mass-market and industry-related products.
MIT HELPS BUILD THE 'SILICON VALLEY' OF RUSSIA