U.S. Executives Give Dvorkovich List of Ideas
- By Rachel Nielsen
- Feb. 24 2010 00:00
U.S. executives from the "Innovation Delegation" on Tuesday offered a list of Russian-U.S. technological and civic initiatives to presidential adviser Arkady Dvorkovich, who saw the group off at Domodedovo Airport to end their weeklong trip to Russia.
"We have a list of deliverables," Jared Cohen, a special adviser to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and co-leader of the delegation, told The Moscow Times.
Cohen, who was still in Moscow and did not attend the airport meeting, said the list included about six initiatives to fight human trafficking, as well as ventures to spur "innovation competition" and for long-distance education.
He declined, however, to elaborate on specific proposals, saying he would not make the list public before the Russian and U.S. governments can agree on the projects. Most of the funding would likely come from the private sector, he said.
"My assumption is that you'll see contributions in the form of in-kind resources or actual resources," Cohen said. "It's hard to speculate on where funding comes from until we know what projects we're talking about."
Dvorkovich was also among the first to meet with the 13-member delegation last Wednesday.
The group of corporate leaders and White House officials also met with Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin's first deputy chief of staff; Elvira Nabiullina, the economic development minister; and Igor Shchyogolev, the communications and press minister.
At the meeting with Surkov and Dvorkovich, "the purpose of the conversation was not to engage in an internal dynamic, but in a bilateral dynamic," Cohen said.
Surkov, a controversial advocate of economic modernization, told Vedomosti last week that “consolidated power is the instrument of modernization.” Asked whether he spoke with Surkov about the comment, Cohen said: "I'm aware of the modernization debate that's going on. That's an internal debate."
He declined to go into specifics about the meeting, although he did say Surkov and Dvorkovich asked about developing a Russian Silicon Valley. "It was a very important meeting," Cohen added.
The delegation's visit was largely seamless, although heavy traffic on Thursday postponed a planned meeting with Shchyogolev and the leaders of Russian tech companies. The minister met the delegation later in the day, along with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Sobyanin and officials from the Education and Science Ministry.
Cohen said the U.S. delegation also spent informal time with Shchyogolev at a Monday dinner hosted by Yury Milner, chief executive of Internet investor Digital Sky Technologies.
The group spent the weekend in Novosibirsk, a Siberian educational and technology center, and it met officials from Yandex, Mail.ru, Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and Headhunter.ru on Sunday and Monday after returning to Moscow, Cohen said.
Civic organizations, including those fighting human trafficking and corruption, were also on the delegation's itinerary.
The State Department billed the delegation as an extension of the bilateral presidential commission, formed by the Russian and U.S. presidents last summer. The group's aim was to discuss social media, entrepreneurship and technology.
U.S. technology powerhouses were represented by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Cisco Systems chief technology officer Padmasree Warrior, EDventure Holdings founder Esther Dyson and eBay chief executive John Donahoe. The group also had officers from Internet browser company Mozilla, the New York Academy of Sciences, the Social Gaming Network and Howcast Media, as well as actor and human-trafficking activist Ashton Kutcher.
Twitter was used to broadcast and circulate the week's developments to thousands — or even, according to Cohen, millions — of Internet users.
Kutcher's Twitter page has some 4.5 million followers, making him the world's most-watched miniblogger.
EBay chief Donahoe, who signed up for Twitter during the trip, wrote on his page that "the story for my last week is 'I went to Siberia and came back 10 years younger.'"