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Artificial intelligence, Internet of Things, blockchain – to implement projects based on these technologies, high-quality expertise and significant funds are required. And if Russian startups manage to cope with the first question, then even successful companies have problems with the second. We intend to solve them with the help of grants. The Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media will allocate billions of rubles for projects for the development and implementation of Russian digital solutions. How will the grants be distributed and who can apply for them? What are the prospects for the grant campaign and how important it is for developers – in the material “Lenta.ru”.
Until 2024, 20 billion rubles will be allocated for grants to IT companies, of which 7.1 billion will be distributed by the end of 2020. Grants are coordinated by three specialized operators – the Skolkovo Foundation, the Russian Fund for the Development of Information Technologies (RFRIT) and the Fund for the Promotion of Innovations (FSI). According to the deputy head of the Ministry of Digital Science Maxim Parshin, they were chosen as organizations with experience in supporting high-tech areas, so they can easily select the best applications.
Support through the VIF can be received by young projects that are engaged in developments in the field of artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of things or new production technologies. For these purposes, developers can receive up to 20 million rubles. The fund also has a Start program designed for startups, including individuals. Participants in this campaign have a chance to receive up to three million rubles to concretize an idea that will form the basis of a technical assignment or will become the basis for a prototype of an information system, product or service, says Parshin.
Skolkovo may issue a grant of up to 80 million rubles for a pilot commercial implementation of Russian digital products, services and platform solutions. In turn, RFRIT supports larger companies, including industry leaders. The amount of grants is higher here – from 20 to 300 million rubles.
“As an additional measure of support in this difficult period for business development, we have reduced the amount of co-financing required from the applicant companies from 50 to 20 percent,” the deputy head of the department added in a conversation with Lenta.ru.
Grants will help players cover up to 80 percent of the project’s cost. The amount can be used for salaries of employees, the purchase of software, equipment and other expenses. In addition, according to individual programs, the project can be fully implemented at the expense of the grant.
Two thirds of the total amount of grant support will be used to create new competitive domestic IT products, and the remaining third is planned for projects for their implementation.
“The programs are designed so that a variety of projects could apply for grant support. At the same time, the grant can be received by both IT product developers and companies implementing digital solutions, ”Parshin explains.
First of all, grants will be issued to those companies whose decisions correspond to priority areas of support. The Ministry of Digital Science has developed a whole list of such areas: from database management systems to platforms for online education or online health care, content management systems, and engineering software.
Officials promise that the grant can be obtained much easier, without unnecessary bureaucracy. Now applications for participation in the competition are submitted electronically through the websites of development institutions, and they can be signed electronically – without any paperwork. Soon it will be possible to complete the application on the State Services portal. The term for its consideration was also reduced.
If IT start-ups need more funds than the grants provide, they can get a soft loan from 13 banks. According to Parshin, the volume of such loans in 2020 will amount to 30 billion rubles.
“These are targeted loans, repayable funds, and they are aimed at the implementation of domestic solutions, at the digital transformation of companies. The rate for the borrower will be from 1 to 5 percent, ”the department explained.
The state plans to double the share of the IT sector in the country’s gross domestic product. Therefore, until 2024, measures were introduced to stimulate the development of the industry. In particular, the income tax for companies in the field of information technology has been reduced. The corresponding decree was signed by the President of Russia in July 2020 and will enter into force in January 2021.
Under the new rules, income tax for IT companies will be reduced indefinitely from 20 to 3 percent. At the same time, the rates of insurance premiums will also noticeably decrease – from 14 to 7.6 percent. Commenting on the initiative, Vladimir Putin called the new rates more attractive than in Ireland: there the income tax rate is 12.5 percent for trading income and 25 percent for non-trading income.
Companies employing at least seven people will be able to take advantage of the preferences and which for the reporting period have a share of income from the development of radio-electronic products of at least 90 percent.
Director of the Russian Association for Electronic Communications (RAEC) Sergei Plugotarenko in a conversation with “Lenta.ru” explained that this measure contributes to increasing the investment attractiveness of the industry and the growth of Russian software exports.
At the same time, Plugotarenko noted that state support does not fully affect the companies of the so-called “digital circuit”: search technologies and user services, cloud services, social networks and gaming platforms, marketplaces, online cinemas, the development of “digital solutions” including the author’s order. In addition, most of the companies in the domestic Internet industry do not meet the criteria of the law, and therefore cannot apply for assistance from the state. A significant portion of their income comes from advertising and service subscriptions, the sale of virtual goods, and the transfer of intellectual property rights.
“The law will be absolutely useless for IT companies that develop software, but make money on other services: SkyEng, Avito, Yandex.Taxi, BlaBlaCar, Citymobil, Netologiya. Although they are in need of state support no less than others, ”explained the head of RAEC.
To rectify the situation, the association and other RIF 2020 participants proposed to the government to extend the tax maneuver to IT companies of the digital circuit. The document has already been sent to a number of Russian deputies and specialized experts.
Another law is intended to support the IT sector – on “regulatory sandboxes”, which will also come into force in early 2021. Sandboxes are a special legal regime for innovative projects, they allow players to abandon some regulatory requirements that impede the development of innovation. For example, to test a product, you now need to obtain a license. The sandbox helps to avoid this bureaucratic procedure.
Startups and government officials will be able to test new products and services without the risk of breaking the law. If the pilot is successful, companies will be able to enter the market with their products, and officials will be able to spread the new regulation throughout the country.
“The sandbox is seen primarily as a prototype of the new regulation. After the end of the experiment, an analysis will be carried out as far as possible to extend it to the whole country, “- this is how Deputy Minister of Economic Development Savva Shilov presented the bill.
Renat Lashin, executive director of the National Software Association of Software Developers, believes that both financial and regulatory measures to support domestic IT companies are useful for the industry. However, the expert calls the decision to indefinitely reduce the income tax rate and insurance premiums as the most significant for the segment.
“They will allow to shorten the time frame for overcoming the crisis and, in general, ensure the high rates of development that the industry has reached in recent years,” Lashin explained in a conversation with Lenta.ru. The head of the non-profit organization is confident that the new tax regime will make the Russian jurisdiction more attractive and competitive: startups will be able to hire highly qualified specialists and raise the salary of the development team. Comprehensive support for the industry will allow it to reach a new level of quality and profitability, Lashin predicts.
Lashin proposes to measure the effectiveness of fresh government measures based on the results of last year. In 2019, the Russian authorities launched several areas of financial support for companies working in IT. One of the programs was launched by the Russian Information Technologies Development Fund. Thanks to this, regional projects for the implementation and replication of end-to-end digital technologies could receive grants ranging from 15 million to one billion rubles.
In addition, companies that implement digital transformation projects and implement IT solutions have begun to provide loans at a preferential rate since last year – from 1 to 5 percent. One project can get from 5 billion rubles, and for a complex – at least 10 billion.
The so-called “tax on Google”, designed to restrain foreign monopolists, also had a positive effect on the industry. Since January 2019, foreign IT giants have to pay VAT in the amount of 15.2 percent of the funds received for the provision of electronic services to individuals in Russia. Prior to that, domestic legal entities and individual entrepreneurs independently paid VAT as tax agents.
The number of grants provided to IT companies has not significantly increased since last year, but the state has proposed new measures to support the industry. Experts believe that this assistance will increase the attractiveness of the Russian market for resident companies.

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