11 Jun '15
Earlier this week the State Duma, the lower house of Russian Parliament, passed a draft bill on the development of an “International Medical Cluster” in Russia. The stated goals of the new effort include further medical development, transfer of advanced technologies into Russia, and the providing of high-quality medical assistance for populations. The project is welcoming not only Russian individual entrepreneurs and innovative companies, but also international ones. The latter, however, must come from member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Surprisingly, unlike other big real estate projects of that sort, such as Russia’s special economic zones, the Cluster project doesn’t seem to offer tax benefits. Initially, the draft bill didn’t exclude any Russian region from the Cluster project; by this week Russian lawmakers must have decided the endeavor should be exclusively piloted in the Skolkovo innovation hub just outside Moscow. They don’t rule out the possibility for spreading the experience across regions in a foreseeable future. There’s no timeframe set in the bill for the implementation of this ambitious effort.
On June 9, the State Duma passed in the second and third readings a draft bill that allows the creation of this large-scale “International Medical Cluster” project within Moscow jurisdiction only—and not even in what the city administration refers to as “New Moscow” [part of former suburbs now included in Moscow—Editor’s note], but in the Skolkovo innovation hub, a territory belonging to the Moscow Region geographically but de jure and de facto controlled by the City of Moscow, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti .
According to lawmakers, the Cluster is being put together in order to promote further medical development, provide a fast track for the transfer of advanced technologies into Russia, and offer populations high-quality medical assistance. Requirements typical for advancing a large-scale project like this one are eased and many special conditions reportedly approved for the participants of the Cluster project.
The door is presumably open for any Russian individual entrepreneur and innovative company. Foreigners are also welcome—but only those that are headquartered in member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD, which currently unites countries such as Germany, Israel, Switzerland, the United States and some others alongside Russia—Editor’s note]. A Russian legal entity will be assigned by the City of Moscow to manage the Cluster. There will be no tax benefits for participants, however.
There’s no timeframe set in the bill for the implementation of this ambitious effort.
“We’re creating an International Medical Cluster with the primary goal of bringing cutting-edge medical technologies into Russia, upgrading healthcare procedures, developing new drugs, hosting and backing research, and enhancing medical education,” said Anatoly Aksakov who heads the State Duma committee for economic policy, innovation development and entrepreneurship.
The Cluster will cover a territory of about 185,000 square meters in Skolkovo. “A medical diagnostics and therapy center will be built there to include two separate hospitals for adults and children, an oncology center, perinatal center, as well as neurology, orthopedics and cardiology clinics,” the lawmaker explained.
In December 2014, his committee supported amendments to the bill which permitted the creation of similar clusters in any Russian region. The wording of the revised bill passed earlier this week is different: only within confines approved by the City of Moscow, and none other.
“Based on imperative advice, or opinion, from the national leadership, it was decided to make it a pilot project for Moscow without spreading it across other Russian regions,” said Elena Panina from the Duma committee for economic policy. She added, however, that given any success in the implementation of the effort in Skolkovo, the legislators might get back to the idea of making the project “a shared one for the entire country.”
She further said that already by the second reading the lawmakers had made registration procedures “crystal-clear” for future participants, put together a register of such participants, and outlined the scope of responsibility each of the participants would bear for any violation of laws, including the putting of people’s health and lives at risk.
The new bill also allows for the possibility for patients to get quality medical services in Skolkovo using their compulsory medical insurances [ones that have so far only enabled citizens to seek help at underfunded government clinics with little but entry-level equipment in their own regions—Editor’s note]. There’s one noticeable exception here, though: it’s exclusively participants which have Russian-issued permits that will be authorized to render services covered from Russia’s compulsory medical insurance system. “This is to make sure money doesn’t get pumped into foreign companies,” said Ms. Panina in an explanation of the exception.
The new Duma bill allows participants to bring into play in the Cluster technologies and drugs both registered in their countries of origin and actually used there for medical practice. The legislators have insisted on introducing project-specific legal regimes in healthcare, use of drugs, real estate development, licensing, technical regulation, energy supply, and education.