The Ministry of Communications of Russia has changed its name for the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications. What does this mean?
In the opinion of the new minister, Leonid Reiman, it reflects the state intention to support the information technologies (IT) industry, one of the most priority trends of which, according to the minister, is the export-orientated production of software or the so-called offshore programming. He spoke about it in the interview he gave to the Newsweek magazine (Russian edition).
Not long ago Russian President also spoke about the state support of exporting software. He said that the export of innovation technologies is a mechanism to prevent brain drain abroad. "At the present time many centres are appearing in the country in which our programmers are working at fulfilling the orders from big foreign corporations. Of course, this work should be supported by the state," the President said at his recent meeting with the winners of the world programming championships among students.
Leonid Reiman believes that "the whole world admits that we have the most talented programmers. This is true, it is a real fact." He also underscored that the world programming championships "is a very representative event with a considerable prize fund. Programmers from all leading countries take part in it. This year, Russia received four, out of 12, sets of awards. In the past five years four absolute champions were Russian teams. However, the minister admitted that "the share of Russia on the international market of services for ordered programming is not big. And there are objective reasons for this. For example, there is a problem of a critical mass. Russian companies are very small so far according to the world standards. This does not meant that they cannot accomplish large-scale tasks, they can do it. But big corporations usually lodge their orders with the companies which have large stuffs."
In this situation the state does not intend to remain inactive. According to the authoritative newspaper of the Russian business quarters, Vedomosti, already this autumn the officials will submit a new concept of the IT market. In the opinion of the head of the department of the profile ministry for coordinating the Electronic Russia federal programme, the concept of his department will make it possible to increase the share of export and to form the policy for its stimulation.
Presently, the development of the IT market depends on the inner demand. According to some estimates, in 2003 the export of Russian computer programmes amounted to more than 500 million dollars, while the total volume of the Russian market is only about 6 million dollars.
Leonid Reiman believes that the most effective types of the aid to programmers is the creation of Science & Research Parks or technology parks. "At the present time it is quite realistic to create technology parks in Russia on the basis of a number of higher educational establishments or big companies, and attract to them small companies on advantageous conditions, helping them to rapidly grow." Apart from ensuring the necessary infrastructure, the minister also provides for lowering taxes for technology parks. However, according to the minister, the creation of technology parks is only half of what should be done. The state must assume the role of an advertising agent for promoting such companies.