Tatar-inform Interview


Dinar NASYROV 14 March 2011,13:03

“The IT Park’s successful experience will be used in constructing the IT village”

The IT Park in late 2010 won the “2010 Russian Creators” national prize in the “Best Information Technologies Investment Project" nomination. The prize is a special public award presented to the best manufacturers, Russian businessmen and entrepreneurs, chiefs of manufacturing plants and organisations of various ownership types who have substantially contributed to developing the national economy. The award in the nomination is evidence to the Kazan IT Park’s high ranking.

The park’s new director in January 2011 became Dinar Nasyrov, earlier employed as a Tatarstan deputy information minister. A new chief brings about new dreams and plans. Dinar Nasyrov has told Tatar-inform how the IT park is developing and what it plans to do.

Q: Dinar Nazylovich, how do you assess the IT Park’s level of development? Which novel ideas have you been able to implement?
A: The IT Park is known to have been built within the federal programme “Establishing high technologies technoparks in the Russian Federation”. The IT Park was Russia's first  technology park engaged in developing and promoting information technologies companies within the programme. Today it fulfils the main task of providing conditions for companies in the high-technology economy branches, information technologies in general, and to small and medium IT businesses. Its core feature is a state-of-the-art information infrastructure. The technopark today is a self-sufficient organisation that does not depend on state funding. We do not receive budget subsidies for building maintenance, all our costs are covered through providing services for the tenants and the data centre’s operation. Many say now that the IT Park is its tenants, but the IT Park is more than just the tenants. Importantly, we perform tasks set by President Rustam Minnikhanov, Prime Minister Ildar Khalikov and deputy Prime Minister and Informatisation and Communication Minister Nikolay Nikiforov.

One of the main tasks is in 5-7 years to double the IT share in the gross regional product. To do that, we try to resolve issues pertaining to the IT branch’s progress in the republic. For instance, there is the problem of a lack of practically oriented IT specialists at the moment. That is why, we, in conjunction with Kazan Federal University and Tatarstan Ministry of Informatisation and Communication, are working on a project of a Higher School of Information Technologies, and to develop new personnel training technologies, including with the help of foreign universities and their professors.

The IT Park’s has been increasingly popular, I should say. It has become an object of heightened interest from state bodies and business executives in not only Russia but abroad. Heads of Russian regions continue to use our infrastructure when studying the republic’s effective IT practices.

Q: The data centre is the IT Park’s crucial element. How is it developing?
A: We are proactively promoting the Data Centre’s services. The floors 1 to 4 house up-to-date offices. The ground floor houses, for the tenants convenience, a bank branch, a postal office, a cafe, a canteen, a printing centre, a phone service centre and a conference hall. Floors 2 to 4 house offices for resident firms. The data centre is located on floor 5. It includes a section housing state information systems and resources, and a commercial area with both equipment of commercial firms, not necessarily residents in the IT Park, and equipment owned by the IT Park itself that we use to provide cloud computing services and the possibility for Tatarstan companies to rent virtual servers.

In general, the IT park was designed as an interregional facility, considering that demand for a data centre was not only seen in the Volga region but in other Russian constituents as well. Information technologies are not confined to a certain space. This allows other regions use the data centre’s services. It houses all the republic’s local and federal core providers. The data centre could in general be called a single point of IT projects integration and a collective access resource for the entire federal technology park network.

The interest in the SaaS technologies in Russia has been increasing. SaaS stands for Software As A Service – providing software as a service. Customers within the SaaS model pay for renting software, as opposed to owning it. A customer therefore incurs relatively small costs and does not need to invest substantial funds in purchasing software and hardware, to deploy and maintain it. The federal centre considers the system advantageous. There is the data centre built with state money. Why not use it and spend funds to develop information systems?

Q: Importantly, the date centre is at the same time a reliable system...
A: Yes, the data centre is a powerful system that has a sophisticated design. It includes all safety and reliability features. The power supply system is built to be connected to the building from both sides. If the central supply is suddenly cut off, backup electricity supply systems, with UPS and powerful diesel generators, switch on in the IT Park.

I would like to say there are no more technoparks with a similar data centre in Russia, moreover, data centres of this level are just a few.

Q: The IT Park has a particular interest in resident companies’s development and promotion onto the market. What conditions are provided for the residents and what is being done, to attract them?
A: Twenty six companies are presently residents in the IT Park. Twenty one of them are IT companies immediately engaged in in-house projects. As of this day, Russian and Tatarstan companies have offices in here. They are both larger manufacturing firms and ones that have just begun to develop business in the information technologies branch. To become residents, they need to present their self-design business projects. We have an advisory board that makes decisions on who can be included on the list of residents and who cannot. All the resources required at the design, development and launch of a new high-tech product stages are provided for residents firms – advanced technologies, services and equipment, as well as a science and resource infrastructure.

You must have noticed the atmosphere in the IP park is most comfortable for IT specialists. Their work is creative. They can work on a project round the clock. We try to resolve all the welfare issues that residents come to us with. In May, we plan to launch a long-stay accommodation facility, similar to a three-star hotel.

The main purpose is to satisfy the IT specialists’s need for temporary accommodation (some projects require outsourced specialists engaged for a certain period, plus residents occasionally need to meet with their counterparts from other cities and countries). Our motto is “Live, study and work in one place”. All the technoparks abroad operate by this principle.

The IT Park fulfils its marketing function: it helps resident companies enter markets and develop through involving experts. The rental fees in the IT Park are low, as compared with Kazan and other Russian regions. The payment does not cover half of our costs. We therefore subsidise our resident firms’s development. We have succeeded in negotiating lower internet access rates with internet providers. This allows the companies unlimited use of the internet.

The companies located in the IT Park include the Tatarstan Centre for Information Technologies, Bars Group of Companies, Engineering Systems, ICL KME CS, Corporate Information Routines that designs unique software-hardware medicine units, Bars Medicina, Document Management Systems, New Technologies, AiTeko, and others. Of the foreign firms, Microsoft Rus won an auction and became our tenant. In general, the IT Park has built the complete basic infrastructure. We also plan to involve residents from other techoparks, so they could use the SaaS model in their development.

In particular, we have an agreement with the Saint-Petersburg and Novosibirsk technoparks. This allows companies to quickly roll out their products on the market. We therefore facilitate the development of information technologies without limiting them to just one location. We welcome IT companies evolving in other Russian constituents as well. It will be easier for Tatarstan companies to enter these markets. There are companies that have already crossed the local market borders and are selling their projects in over 50 Russian regions. There are residents who sell their solutions abroad.

Q: Which innovative projects could you single out?
A: The key area of specialisation for the IT Park’s resident firms is developing domestic software, including in the field of Electronic Government and Electronic State Services. Among the Tatarstan companies’ innovative projects placed in the IT Park, the electronic document management system, infomat for electronic state services, Glonass +112 emergencies service coordination system, Electronic Education, Electronic Healthcare and others can be pinpointed.

The systemic work on the Electronic Tatarstan project (then named Electronic Government) began as early as in 2005. Owing to the implementing the project, the IT market in the republic “got into the swing”, some residents changing for developing state information systems. Now they feel confined and they move on to other regions.

Q: What other prospects for the IT Park could you talk about now?
A: From March 2011, we launch a business incubator on the IT Park’s third floor, with historically low-cost terms for those who have an IT project. An expert council is being assembled for this purpose. If 2-3 people enthusiastic about an idea wish to devote themselves to IT entrepreneurship, the business incubator is the venue for them to fulfil themselves. The business incubator’s main task is to render support to small innovative companies at their start-up stages. This is achieved through providing a requisite set of services on favourable terms. We have to within one year set up a company, stimulate it and its entrepreneurs for quick production of results and moving on to being self-sufficient. The companies could  choose to become tenants at the IT Park or they can walk. Most importantly, a company should know how to do business in an emerging market.

I would like to say that an IT Park will this year begin to be built within a federal programme in Naberezhnye Chelny. It will evolve within the same concept as the IT Park in Kazan. Our plans include participating in an IT village design project. The IT Park’s experience in this is going to be invaluable.

The developments around the technoparks in Russia, including IT technoparks, show the authorities are concerned with expanding the sector.

Tatarstan is one of the most advanced regions in terms of infocommunications. The IT Park’s development is graphic evidence to that. We hope that the IT Park will continue to be a centre of inception and promotion of new ideas and innovative technologies in the IT branch.


Prepared by Laisan Asadullina