Visiting the boiling point of innovation in Russia

During its first years, the institute was forced to exist within an incomplete innovation ecosystem. “We had corporates, we had funds but… we had no startups!” Ani explained. New ventures weren’t emerging in Russia at that time. And if they were, corporates and VCs couldn’t find them.

To fill in the gap and boost the innovation ecosystem all around Russia, RVC created an accelerator called GenerationS in 2013. It started with various industry focuses, but in 2018, it became a corporate accelerator with the goal of enhancing the collaboration between startups and corporates. That’s where Ani works together with Head of International Development Alexandra Filatova who joined us at a restaurant not far away from the offices.

GenerationS, they told me, has:

  • 60 corporate partners
  • ±15,000 current innovation accelerators (startups in the pipeline)
  • ±500 alumni startups – those that were accelerated by GenerationS (that is to say: produced by successful acceleration programs)

When our drinks arrived, Ani informed me that “last year, GenerationS was selected as the number 1 corporate accelerator in Europe.” I was about to comment, “Impressive!” when Alexandra added, “And 2 weeks ago, we were listed among the top 5 public accelerators in the world by UBI Global.” Realizing that ‘impressive’ wouldn’t do an achievement like that justice, I opted for “WOW!” instead.

After lunch, we settled into a meeting room at the GenerationS offices where I discovered more about the activities and programs that GenerationS constantly has in the works. Every program is different, I’m told, because every partner is different. Each has varying needs and targets. That statement resonated with me so much that I couldn’t help but smile.

“We try to cover all phases of the acceleration process, including implementation and follow-up, but sometimes not everything is needed,” Ani continued. “We worked on a scouting program for Airbus, and ran a few accelerators for major global corporates, including Unilever and Michelin. And now we’re in the middle of a full-cycle accelerator program for the State Transport Leasing Company (STLC), the aim of which is to produce an ad hoc PMO and venture fund.”

As a matter of fact, the STLC accelerator is why I happened to be in Moscow: GenerationS invited Board of Innovation to design a 1-day workshop on corporate innovation. The goal was to provide STLC staff with structured information about partnership models between corporates and startups.