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Murom will become “Russia’s Cupertino”?

Experts in the regional industry told the vice-governor about the pointlessness of competing with the West in technology

The Vladimir region administration decided on a strategic priority for regional development. It is the radio-electronic and instrument-making industry. The authorities also announce the possible creation of a microelectronic complex in Murom. Arkady Botsan-Kharchenko, deputy governor, told this information at the expert meeting held in the regional center.

“The task is multilevel and complicated, and in its correct solution, obviously, one cannot do without knowledgeable representatives of the relevant branches of science and production,” the state official told the assembled industrialists and representatives of specialized educational institutions.

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To form an industry where Russia’s lag is the most noticeable, and where our country has probably never had any major commercial successes in its history, we must solve three problems: ensure guaranteed demand for electronic products, establish modern production and find competent specialists somewhere. The latter, if found, will have to be somehow kept from moving to other countries. The situation here will be like with public transport in Vladimir. When the M-12 highway construction site was promised a wage of 80,000 rubles, bus drivers who used to get paid twice as much quit in droves. In the case of domestic electronics, the wage gap is much larger.

It should also be noted here that all more or less successful companies operating in this sphere grew out of private initiatives. Attempts at state boosting are often made, take the Skolkovo cluster for example, but so far, domestic, and even more so, state-supported chips and microchips have not found wide application in popular computers and gadgets. The Vladimir region administration, apparently, after weighing the pros and cons, has decided that Murom can still find a focal point for development and become the Russian Cupertino.

The Vladimir region administration press service also gives skeptical assessments of the high-profile project. So, Deputy General Director of SC “Systems and Technologies” Igor Kucherov said that in Russia the topological level of microcircuits at 45 nanometers is the limit of dreams, while Western and Asian partners are already experimenting with a range of five nanometers. In other words, so far, the “dream limit” of compactness of Russian microchips is nine times worse than that of their foreign counterparts.

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“In the current situation, the federal government’s goal of 90 percent import substitution of the electronic component base in Russian radioelectronics products is unrealistic,” Igor Kucherov concluded.

Sergey Arakelyan, Professor of Volzhsky State University, also told the audience that attempts to “catch up and surpass” technological leaders are meaningless, but it is possible to “overtake without catching up”: try to implement experimental developments with fundamentally new physical characteristics.
Dmitry Pomykalov, General Director of “Systems and Technologies”, said that such a large-scale project as mass production of electronic components would require an “organizing and guiding role of the state,” comparable to the implementation of the Soviet “atomic” project.

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The participants proposed to start small and create an experimental production of precision optoelectronic engineering, which is the missing link between the region’s science and industry.

“Murom County was unanimously chosen as the most suitable place to consider the prospect of creating a foundation for the future microelectronics cluster, it was decided to prepare a joint concept for the creation and development of the cluster in the medium and long term,” the Vladimir region administration press service said of the ambitious plans.

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