Why is there almost no civil / commercial high-tech production in Russia?

    I finished the article with a review of the situation with microelectronics in Russia by asserting that now in Russia there are technical possibilities for creating any military microcircuits (if you do not take into account the price). However, in the comments to that article, and in many others, everyone was more worried about the absence (at the level of measurement error) of the production of purely commercial (civilian) high-tech products. This question also worried me, because I was constantly tormented by the questions of everyone who was somehow connected with high technology and business in Russia.

    The answer is important if you yourself want to create a competitive high-tech product - so as not to spend the best years of life in initially unequal conditions.

    Under the cut, we’ll try to understand how “high-tech” companies differ from “low-tech” companies, what is needed for high-tech companies to be born and survive, why is it better with software than hard, how did the silicon valley in the USA begin and can it be “copied” ”, Why China is vomiting everyone, and also - let us look at everything that happens in Skolkovo, Rusnano, the promising research fund, and whether they will lead to the flourishing of Russian innovations. Of course, I could be mistaken somewhere - I will be glad to additions in the comments.

    It should be noted right away that due to the multifaceted nature of the problem, the volume of the article turned out to be quite large, so you can start reading with a summary at the end, and then read only those sections that will cause interest. I want to warn you right away - the narrative is “non-linear”, adjacent headings can describe different aspects of the problem and be practically unconnected with each other.

    The situation with high-tech production from a height

    1. The economy . Under capitalism, a business tries to earn a maximum of money using a minimum of capital and with minimal risk. A high-tech business - despite its attractiveness - is a shitty business: it takes a lot of capital, payback periods are big, big risks, you have to hire capricious engineers for all the big and big money. In theory, this should be offset by superprofits, but this does not always happen. As a result, they engage in high-tech business when there is no place in simple business or when the state makes such a business attractive (subsidies, double use of the results of state contracts - both in the civilian and military spheres).

      In the case of Russia, for a number of reasons, a low-tech business (construction, trade, natural resources) can have too high a profit - and this makes a high-tech business a completely pointless business from an economic point of view. On the other hand, the scheme of work on government contracts excludes large profits (usually it is required to show a net profit of about 5%), it requires security, double use can be difficult due to the secrecy and state ownership of the obtained intellectual property - i.e. again, completely unattractive to the commercial artist.
    2. Cost and availability of capital . A high-tech business requires a lot of money, from the very beginning. Despite the fact that there is enough money in Russia, for natural reasons they are concentrated in people engaged in simple business and it may not be interesting for them to understand the intricacies of a high-tech business. Also, in view of the aforementioned higher profitability of a simple business, it draws most of the investment capital onto itself, and accordingly makes it more expensive for everyone.
    3. People . The idea of ​​a high-tech business is born and implemented by people with a good technical education and (optional) work experience. In recent decades, the quality of technical education has been falling, as well as the number of graduates in technical specialties. Further, the problem is exacerbated by the "export of raw brain": emigration and outsourcing .

      It is believed that fundamental and applied science should generate innovation - but this does not happen in practice - again due to bureaucracy, the inability to quickly raise money to test ideas, brainwashing (leaving people to "low-tech", but high-paying jobs).
    4. Bureaucracy and logistics : Since the goods need to be produced in reality, the speed and cost of delivery services becomes extremely important - both at the reception (many components from around the world) and shipping (including Russian mail), speed and cost of customs, and other bureaucratic restrictions (such as restrictions on state control of the circulation of chemicals of industrial importance and the FSB with cryptography, certification of goods). Naturally, even now all obstacles can be overcome - but it takes time and money, and competitors in other countries get an advantage.
    5. The state policy of other countries and patents : It is difficult to expect from foreign countries that have achieved success in high technology (for example, microelectronics) a voluntary abandonment of leadership positions - there are export licenses and patents for this. Russia naturally acts in exactly the same way and does not sell, for example, the production technology of the most modern aircraft engines to China, preferring to sell the engines themselves. "Closing" patents will not allow you to do what has already been done - but the license to use the patent may not be sold to you, and if you sell it, then at a price that does not allow you to release a competitive product. This all makes it extremely difficult to enter already occupied markets with a similar product - you must definitely come up with something new.

    Biggest misconception

    It is worth emphasizing once again - the biggest widespread misconception about high-tech production is that there are very high profits, work is not dusty, but dirty and labor-intensive industries (energy, mining and processing of minerals, food industry) are not very important, the physical production of developed high-tech devices is better left to the 3rd world countries and the only thing that supposedly hinders the heyday of Russia’s heyday is theft / corruption / do not sell the necessary equipment / lack of Vie their Jobs.

    In reality, everything turns out to be wrong: a high-tech business has high capital requirements, payback periods are long, there are always risks, profit drops slowly and doesn’t amaze the imagination (only sometimes there are outstanding results when you received a “closing” patent for a very tasty technology, and there are resources to defend it in court - however, such technologies cannot be developed cheaply). In the West, they went to high technologies only because there was nothing left to do in ordinary, simple business + the state paid for work under military contracts - it allowed intellectual property to be left with the contractor and used for commercial purposes.

    In addition, those who listen to American political programs for “domestic consumption” - probably heard the phrase “Bringing the Jobs Back Home”: this is actually a recognition that the post-industrial economy (“we design, and the monkeys collect overseas”) did not justify itself and leads to the extinction of entire sectors of the economy. Therefore, blindly copying the American "post-industrial" path is clearly not worth it.

    Here is a quote from vasiaa , which slipped through the microelectronics forum and successfully emphasized the current situation:
    Angstrom is very poor, exporting 132 million rubles, and it sells all products for 700-800 million rubles, or 25-30 million dollars ... my friend just in Zelenograd has a company for the construction and repair of about the same turnover per year.
    Link on the topic with numbers.

    More on the difference between a high-tech business and a low-tech

    Low-tech business - creates surplus value by moving goods created by others, and creates goods for the production of which one technological operation is needed without a large amount of intellectual property. Often geographically tied to a source of resources (hydroelectric power station, coal mine, oil field, field engineers for outsourcing).

    • Bought goods in bulk - sold at retail.
    • Bought goods abroad, dragged through customs, sold wholesale / retail.
    • Bought an apartment - sold an apartment a year later.
    • They built the building - they sold the apartments / rented out for offices.
    • We bought alumina, received aluminum ingots at Soviet plants by electrolysis, and sold in bulk.
    • We drilled holes in the ground, laid a pipeline, pumped oil and sold in bulk.
    • They bought oil, divided it into fractions (+ catalytically refined), and sold oil products in bulk.
    • Hired engineers, fulfill development orders on an hourly basis (= offshore programming)

    High-tech business - creates products with a high share of development costs, requiring a large number of operations. Accordingly, commercial success requires a lot of cheap capital, minimal additional costs for logistics and bureaucracy, maximum sales volumes around the world in order to “spread the cost of development” on the maximum number of copies of the final product.
    • Developed iPhone and software for it - organized production - sold products
    • Developed a processor - implemented support in operating systems and third-party software - ordered production - sold products
    • Developed a technology for the production of microcircuits using 10nm technology - developed a library - licensed to manufacturers
    • Developed a general-purpose chip - ordered production - advertised - sold through distributors
    • We developed a nuclear reactor — built at the customer’s site — helped with the operation.

    Let's look at an example - CD / DVD-RW

    Let's look at an example - CD / DVD-RW

    The task is to put a batch of CD / DVD writers.

    Low tech business:
    • Wholesalers phoned, found cheaper
    • Bought a batch (often with the option of paying later)
    • Passed customs 1 time.
    • They sold it.
    • Put your 5-10-50% in your pocket.
    Risks are minimal for an experienced trading organization (and there is only one border crossing), own funds are practically not required. Of the people, only a sales manager and accountant are required. Naturally, in an ideal market economy, such a business would bring inflation + 1-5% per annum. It is possible to get more profits in Russia due to price collusion (including unofficial), corruption (including in relations between commercial companies) and other non-market features.

    High-tech business:
    It would seem that making a device for reading / writing such concentric “grooves” should not be difficult:

    • Bought access to specifications on CD and DVD.
    • They hired engineers, developed electronics (controller, power part of engine control, control of laser diodes and photodiodes).
    • Developed a controller chip (for maximum cost reduction in a series)
    • We ordered the manufacture of masks for serial production of the controller chip (we are cool and do it right away without errors)
    • We ordered the manufacture of a batch of plates, their cutting, packaging and testing
    • Hired firmware developers (support for all formats, error correction codes, etc.)
    • We hired opticians who will develop a read / write system from 2 different laser diodes (red for DVD and IR for CD) without losing power using tricky dichroic filters.
    • We ordered the manufacture of a prototype of dichroic filters, mirrors, 4 lenses (probably at least 1 of them aspherical), molds for casting plastic lenses for mass production.
    • Because the helical transmission of the carriage engine has a step of the order of 5 mm and the step motor has at best 200 steps per revolution, we obtain the minimum step of the carriage of the order of 25 microns, and the interval of tracks on the DVD is 0.74 microns. We develop an electromagnetic lens shift system with 4 coils both horizontally and vertically (focus + support for multi-layer disks)
    • We hired developers of mechanics, developed and ordered the manufacture of molds for plastic parts and molds for molding carriages.
    • We collected all the details for the first prototype - it worked almost the first time

    Naturally, all this volume of work can be performed by various companies within their areas of competence, something can already be done - and it’s cheaper to just buy, and something will be patented - and you will have to buy licenses (if the patent holder is good enough).

    At the time of receipt of the pre-production prototype, we had already spent about $ 5-15 million. Further, although the cost of large-scale production of the finished device can be quite low (10-50% of the sale price), in order to “recapture” these $ 15 million spent on development, to return interest on loans, to compensate for the risks that investors took on, it’s necessary produce a product in a series of 1-10 million copies and above.

    Those. the risks are quite high, there are a lot of customs and logistics, the capital requirements are high, you need to find and hire a large number of developers in different areas, and the expected profit is quite modest and completely inadequate to the required titanic efforts by Russian standards (compared to banal trading or construction). And most importantly, the success of the whole event depends on the volume of the series. No power on earth will allow you to make 1000 DVDs with a near-market price from scratch - you need to look for someone to sell exactly 10 million letters to. On the other hand, competitors have recaptured their development costs for a long time, and have the opportunity to sell the product close to cost.

    Accordingly, if one enters an already occupied market with the same product (“catching up and overtaking”), it is practically impossible to achieve commercial success, absolutely something that improves consumer properties (the notorious “innovations”) is absolutely necessary.

    Why is business in Russia so reluctant to go to high technology?

    This is the most important question, it was even repeatedly raised, but the chief nanotechnology in Russia left unanswered .

    The answer is simple - a serious business always goes where there is more profit margin and less risk.

    In conditions of idealized competition, the profit margin of the “simple” business tends to zero, and in countries where capitalism has been around for hundreds of years, this forces us to constantly invent something for the sake of an extra percentage of profit and, in extreme cases, go into an “unpleasant”, high-tech business where the demands are high to capital, long payback periods and high risks. You cannot open yet another store - everything is already open in all “tasty” places, you cannot drill a well for “light” oil — all convenient fields have already ended, you can go to construction, of course — but because of the wildest competition you have to be content units of interest per annum.

    In Russia, in the early 90s, it was just a simple business that survived and was privatized, and the first generation of liberal businessmen lobbied for such legislative changes that would allow them to maintain high revenues without going into high technology. Since there was virtually no civilian high-tech business, there was no one to protect its interests.

    If there was an iron curtain - the existence of high-tech production in such conditions would still be possible, just those who are engaged in it - sold manufactured goods with lower performance at significantly higher prices (in high technology - less series = higher price). However, with open borders, a domestic producer in such circumstances will inevitably lose the competitive struggle with imports, and no reasonable level of duties will change anything here.

    The current situation, even without manual intervention in the long run, is unstable and as capitalism grows up over 2-4 generations (50-100 years), the rate of return for a simple business will naturally decrease (due to the natural change of generations of owners of large businesses).

    Where did the high-tech production in the West historically originate from?

    Radio tubes owe their aggressive development not to a warm tube sound, but to radar and military communications. The first computers were invented not for playing tic-tac-toe - but for ballistic calculations: whoever more quickly and accurately calculated the elevation angle of the guns won. Then - the lighter and smaller the computers in ballistic missiles - the more plutonium with lithium-6 deuteride and false targets could be placed in a ballistic missile warhead and the accuracy would be higher. Thermal imagers were invented not for assessing heat leaks on civilian objects, but so that tanks and infantry could conduct targeted fire on a moonless night without unmasking IR illumination.

    Only after the basic technology in the West was brought to serial military production and all development costs were paid, the executors received “closing” patents — commercial companies came in and found applications in the civilian sphere — with production volumes increasing by orders of magnitude with a corresponding reduction in costs. .

    And when serial civilian products began to satisfy all the requirements of the military - they began to directly use them in military equipment - using its monstrously low cost. This is called by the bourgeoisie COTS - Commercial Off-The-Shelf, cheap and cheerful.

    How was Silicon Valley born in the USA?

    In the Silicon Valley - in the 1950s, companies carried out military orders for the development of various electronics (radars, Apollo, on-board computers for ballistic missiles, etc.), and the state was the largest buyer during the 60s. The state left intellectual property to performers, but demanded that licenses be granted to other domestic companies.

    You can assess the ratio of private investment to government orders: it took 20 years to pour money through public contracts so that the column of private investment became at least visible. The chart from the report at link # 3 below.

    Having eaten fat over 20 years, gaining experience, making money for private investments, new companies were able to make complex microcircuits with commercial value, and due to the lack of competition, they were able to have fantastic profits: for example, the i8080 processor cost $ 360 (and this is civil version), from a 76mm plate they came out about 50 fit (my estimate for the area when the yield was ~ 50%), the cost of building the plant paid off literally in a week of work - by today's standards, unthinkable profits. For comparison, now the microelectronic plant according to new technological standards (10-14nm) has a payback period of about 5 years and above with capital requirements ~ 500 times higher (~ 10bn $), according to old standards - it is generally difficult to pay off.

    Hence the conclusion: Silicon Valley is not a beautiful office complex (it is not there at all), not the “atmosphere of innovation” - these are huge profits based on technologies developed for military money in the first 20 years. Then - the business simply continued to concentrate there by inertia. Blind repetition of this is now impossible anywhere - simply because those conditions are no longer there (the opening of a new industry with huge commercial potential) and once again no one wants to pour so much money over the course of 20 years.

    1. Institutions and the growth of Silicon valley
    2. How the West Was Won
    3. Hidden in Plain Sight: The Secret History of Silicon Valley and also a report on YouTube .

    Problems of high-tech "import substitution", the strategy of "catching up and overtaking"

    “Catch up and overtake” and “import substitution” are 2 very popular topics for public statements by government officials at all times. It would seem that Intel is making processors (it owns both the production technology for the most delicate technical processes and the development of processors themselves), that we should cut corners, independently develop production technology, a circuit and make our processors with blackjack and courtesans (in an idealized case) ?

    As we recall, Intel spends $ 10.6 billion per year on research and development (R&D). Naturally, putting 10 billion in a clean field and Intel will not be able to get the result in a year. At least the first 5 years, the new “catching up” company will grow from 0.1 billion $ R&D of expenses per year to $ 10 billion per year - staff will grow, equipment will be bought, and so on. After 5 years - she will be able to spend money just as quickly as Intel. Now we need another 5 years to go through the development cycle of 1 product. It has been 10 years since the start of the project - we have already spent ~ $ 70 billion and were able to get a product comparable in performance with an Intel processor and manufactured in a domestic factory. However, we can sell it with reservations only in the local market - as Intel holds back patents for key technologies that they will not sell under any circumstances. In the local market, we earn real pennies, because these are only ~ 150mln of buyers against 7bn of the world market. Since most of the cost of a high-tech product is the total cost of development, it depends little on production volumes. Consequently, a processor for the local market is doomed to be 7000/150 = 45 times more expensive. But if we do not yet set a goal to return investments in the local market, then this is not the end.

    We continue to work for another 20 years at $ 10.6 billion a year - and 30 years after the start of the project, when all the old patents have already expired, and we have about the same new patents as our competitors - we were finally able to compete with Intel. The difference, however, is that Intel paid for its R&D expenses from profit, and we had to pay for everything from the money of a state investor. Well, capital expenditures are still needed - $ 7 billion every 3 years for the construction of factories at the forefront of technology, + $ 70 billion. Catching and overtaking Intel cost us ... $ 352 billion and 30 years of work.

    If we lived in the world of the market economy of the elves, we could just buy Intel. The current market capitalization is only $ 127 billion, it would be possible to buy back with a premium of 50% - in total, you need only $ 190 billion, which looks better than $ 352 billion and 30 years of hard labor. However, no one in their right mind sells strategic technology companies for any money. For money without limits, you can only buy luxury goods - yachts and watches with diamonds.

    Finally, the last problem - the volume of the global processor market from the appearance of another player will no longer double. Those. if you just reach the Intel level in 30 years - then the profit in the first approximation will be half that of Intel alone - the market will be divided in half. In fact, it turns out that "whoever got up first got that slipper": if it was possible to get involved in the processor race in the 80s with millions of expenses, now hundreds of billions will not be enough to overtake Intel with their business model, and without any guarantees return on investment. Naturally, you can catch up with a “fabless” company (ARM or AMD) - it will cost 5-10 times cheaper, but the result is worse as well. the company will not independently own all the necessary technologies (guaranteed lag in the technical process + "political" risksassociated with the use of a third-party factory).

    Based on all this, it is completely pointless to expect Intel's results from Elbrus ICST: ICST has an annual development budget of ~ 0.05% of Intel. When Babayan (with all the ambiguity of his personality) asked for a pitiful (by industry standards) $ 100 million for the development and production of a processor in silicon - they just twisted his finger at his temple , although in reality, as we see now, tens and hundreds of billions are needed. Due to the “power of intelligence” and hard labor, it is possible to “pull out” a 2-fold budget difference, a 5-fold difference - but no power on earth would allow the MCST to achieve Intel results with a 2,000-fold budget difference.

    A completely similar situation with cars: AvtoVAZ spent 1.7 billion rubles on development in 2012, and Volkswagen - $ 12.8 billion, 263 times more. If AvtoVAZ could start to effectively spend $ 12.8bn a year on development, then in 10-30 years, results could be expected at the Volkswagen level. Naturally, in the early 90s, the costs would have been several times less - but then new private owners then needed short-term profit, rather than investments with a return in 10 or more years. And just like with Intel, buying a car manufacturer to get access to its technologies right away will not work, as the history of the attempt to purchase Opel showed.

    If you start breakthrough projects with "hatred" - you get an E-mobile. The project budget estimate was 150 million euros - a mere penny compared to competitors. How can you try to create a competitive product, counting on the entire long-term development and production spend 2% of what competitors spend on development for 1 year?

    About buying technology

    And what if you buy ready-made technology, build a candle factory on imported equipment (on credit) for the production of processors and cut coupons?

    High-tech companies - can earn income from:

    1) Intellectual property - when they come up with something that others do not have
    2) Capital
    3) Effective operating activities (0-5% per year, depending on luck)

    If our intellectual property is not there, and we all bought / licensed, then the one who licensed this technology will get profit. Yes, if you bargain for a discount, then some profit can be recaptured during 5-10 years of hard labor. Again - if all the equipment is purchased - then we pay the intellectual property used in the development and creation of this equipment in the first place.

    If there is no capital, then the bank naturally receives a return on capital.

    All that remains is the profit for “efficient operating activities” - but these miserable interest by Russian standards are mere pennies.

    Now it should become clear why the future of the Angstrom-T project, about which I wrote earlier- covered in darkness. They also paid a lot for the equipment, and the equipment lay in the warehouse for 5 years without profit - in general, this is a canonical example of how you can arrange an epic failure out of the blue.

    With an ideal implementation, if negotiations on equipment prices and licenses came to blows (figuratively speaking), the loan was obtained at the rate of market leaders (~ 4-5% and not double-digit), everything would be built and put into operation as soon as possible in 2008 - then Angstrom-T could work at 0. And now - it remains to observe who will take charge of 50-66% of the debt.

    Why is IT business in Russia alive, but high-tech production is not?

    Due to the fact that the product of the labor of pure IT companies “magically” passes through customs borders and bureaucratic barriers, most of the negative factors do not work here: there is only the cost of money (= competition for capital with a simple highly profitable business) and a shortage of engineers. Even these 2 remaining problems can be circumvented by implementing the project up to the prototype / beta test stage with the help of friends on long winter evenings (i.e., without investments and without the painful hiring of developers).

    We also need to remember that we have a lot of IT businesses that cannot be called high-tech: selling the time of employees paying them a portion of the funds received is not high technology, it is a trivial operation of a local field of engineers - exporting their raw brains.

    Skolkovo, Rusnano and others from above

    Skolkovo decided that since the business itself does not want to invest in high technology - the pill needs to be sweetened: and they have made tax benefits for residents, and for small rounds of investments (if you get the approval of the grant committee), part of the money can be received free of charge (or rather, they require returns by the bureaucracy).

    Understanding that something is not right with Customs, they also (in theory) compensate for customs duties on imported goods for the construction of Skolkovo itself and used by residents for research. In practice, using this benefit is difficult.

    After reading the list of residents and visiting sites - I got the impression that most resident companies become participants in the hope of finding money to implement their ideas, do not receive money (~ 85% of residents) - and die without being born, leaving behind only “ one ”in the statistics of the number of residents.

    Also in Skolkovo there are several centers for collective use (CCP) of various really useful scientific equipment - they are separate commercial companies, they buy equipment for their money + Skolkovo co-investment, obviously using customs privileges (it was not possible to find out the distribution of co-investment shares of Skolkovo-CCP). The services on the use of the PCC cost substantial money, and accordingly, for 85% of residents are not available.

    The most living Skolkovo residents are daughters of existing domestic and foreign companies who simply save taxes in Skolkovo. For example, Sberbank in its development center writes a banal Internet banking, Mobixchip - outsourcing chip designs for an Israeli company, Intel Software - outsourcing for Intel, and so on. As we recall, outsourcing is a low-tech business, the exploitation of a local field of engineers - in Russia there is no intellectual property, only salary and salary taxes.

    In general, Skolkovo is certainly 1 step in the right direction (~ 0.5% of the way), 1 step in the opposite direction (support of development centers - hello Bangalore, they themselves live normally), but the amount of PR does not correspond to the microscopic volume of grants and investments funds (by world standards). Skolkovo solves the problems that it is pleasant to solve: to build beautiful offices, give out grants to a small number of companies, is in the press, and not those that need to be addressed: the availability of cheap capital for tens of thousands (and not 136 in 4 years) of small startups at various stages, speed and cost of logistics, customs, unusually high profitability of a simple large business, which makes a high-tech business a meaningless task without constant subsidies.

    Also, the idea that high-tech companies need to be dragged into one place - tracing paper from a silicon valley of the 60s of the last century, when there was no Internet. Now, on the contrary, it is necessary to encourage the maximum filling of high-tech companies throughout the country, so that it is easier for them to find engineers (who do not always want / can go to Moscow).

    Rusnano- At first glance, it acts on the basis of the hypotheses “Business simply does not want to invest in high technology”, “Business has too little money” and “Nanotechnology is a breakthrough direction, just invest a little on market conditions and become a leader”. Unlike Skolkovo - it is required to create something physically in Russia, financing on market conditions (people say, interest rates on loans are double-digit), there are no tax benefits. It is not at all surprising that under such market conditions, competitive high-tech projects did not line up for money.

    Projects in the investment stage are difficult to evaluate - until real sales have begun, you can always do a good face with a bad game. Just to produce high-tech products, and to produce products competitive on the world market are tasks that differ in complexity by orders of magnitude.

    From what I heard about:

    SITRONICS-Nano - purchase of equipment and licenses for 90nm technology for Mikron. Small-scale production, for the civilian commercial market is doomed to be too expensive.
    Mapper Lithography about which I wrote earlier. In Russia, the production of an insignificant and non-critical part of the equipment is localized (part of electronic optics, actually a “plate with holes”: lithography with micron norms and ion etching), however, the share of Rusnano’s investments in the project is small - it would be difficult to require more.
    Optogan - production of LEDs and finished devices based on crystals produced abroad. As Tiberius unearthed at the time, the crystals at Optogan and SvetaLED were very similar.
    Nitol- They built a plant for the production of polycrystalline silicon, but it turned out that during the construction cost of polysilicon fell several times, due to the shock growth of production in China. I had to close. It remains to understand why it is not possible to produce products with a "Chinese" price.
    Plastic Logic - received money from Rusnano with the condition of building a plant in Zelenograd, but then changed their minds about building the plant. They are now planning to sell technology. Production and research remained in the UK / Germany.
    Havel- They were going to make thin-film solar panels of increased efficiency. Judging by open information, the efficiency turned out to be 8%, despite the fact that the cheapest Chinese polycrystalline batteries now have an efficiency of 16-17% (at about the same price per watt, about $ 0.5 per watt or less). Accordingly, in the open market, commercial prospects are limited. The company, the technology provider (Oerlikon) - the solar business managed to sell Tokyo Electron Ltd., and that one is physically eliminating it right now - lost the competition to China.
    Unikom - fragmented car tires as a filler for asphalt. The founder of the project is a noble swindler . The company filed for bankruptcy last year, but still something is stirring.
    Liotech - production of LiFePO 4 batteries. It was not possible to get a sample of the battery from them; what product prices are there is unknown.
    ELVIS-NeoTech - fabless development of microcircuits for video surveillance and video surveillance systems based on them.
    Crocus Nanoelectronics - production of MRAM-memory on 300mm plates. On the finished plates with CMOS logic, several additional layers for MRAM memory are applied at the Moscow production . I hope from such logistics (to transport plates across the whole world at least 2 times per production cycle), the cost price does not suffer significantly.

    As you can see, competitive high-tech production somehow does not want to completely go to Russia on market conditions - it does everything in every possible way to ensure that critical components remain abroad. However, this also can and should be built into the global division of labor for civilian purposes - it is not necessary to drag the whole chain into one country, but at least somewhere critical components should be here.

    Then Rusnano began to finance “development centers” (again “hi Bangalore”) - outsourcing that leaves nothing in Russia except salary taxes: Aquantia, Quantenna, SiTime.

    If you look at the numbers of Rusnano’s investments, you might get the impression that Rusnano is in many cases a major investor. However, Rusnano seems to publish figures for a specific investment project, and not general for the company: for SiTime, the project budget is 541 million rubles, while in 2007 SiTime received investments totaling $ 40+ million.

    By the way, the SiTime SiT8008 chip was able to be picked : it is a generator based on MEMS, not quartz. The micromechanical resonator is sealed in a vacuum inside the crystal. This is really hi-tech - it is a pity that both production and intellectual property remain abroad.

    Ultimately, Rusnano is doing what it can, forcing state-owned companies to use their products (where possible), 0.5% of the way forward, 1 step back (support of “development centers” for the prototype of India) are fundamental difficulties with the emergence and survival of commercial high-tech companies in Russia are not resolved. Investing in companies on commercial terms is just the last and most enjoyable step in high technology.

    FPI (Foundation for Advanced Studies)- created as a domestic analogue of DARPA, which can solve the problems with the availability of capital and bureaucracy (to be optimistic). However, there is a significant difference: in DARPA, the state only has a non-exclusive license to use the obtained intellectual property, and in our case, the contractor does not have any property rights to IP. In the USA, the contractor can commercialize the development without restrictions, including on the civilian market, and in our country the state can remain with this intellectual property like a dog in the manger + the contractor is motivated only by salary and short-term modest profit for “putting the topic back”.

    Those. in its current form, a new silicon valley will not be able to be born from a funded FPI project, it can only turn out something like an F14A processor - which significantly surpassed the first Intel processors, but remained secret for a long time.
    The right to intellectual property belongs to the Russian Federation represented by the Fund. This is determined by law.
    From an interview with the Director General of the FPI Andrey Grigoryev.

    Why is China so tearing ahead?

    A popular explanation is "low salaries." But low salaries are also in Africa - and the heyday of high-tech production is not observed there.

    For starters - in China there was no privatization on the model of Russia - and large companies engaged in simple highly profitable business (extraction and primary processing of natural resources, energy, etc.) remained state-owned. Privatized on the contrary, smaller companies, where you need to dig in after the purchase, not cut coupons. As a result, entrepreneurs were forced to engage in the development of a real, complex business, and not in the division and operation of the “simple”. Confirmation is easy to see by looking at the list of Chinese billionaires . Although now you can already see the rising problem of a bubble in the construction market in China.

    Where everyone gets their money for starting a business is not clear to me personally. Existing business is actively credited to state banks, and the debt load there is monstrous. Thanks to huge public investments (“reverse build-operate-transfer” - financed by the state, managed by a private company, debts are minimal), China managed to jump on the step of the outgoing train of microelectronics. In the early 90s, China was still trying to import microelectronic technologies with us, but now it is far ahead (the blue graph shows the lag of microelectronic technology input from the United States, red from China).

    The largest Chinese microelectronic factory - SMIC - plays white-colored, fulfilling all the requirements of US export control, for which it received the status of “Validated end user”, which removes many restrictions on this particular company, at the cost of strictly excluding military orders.

    Next - the number of engineers is huge. Logistics costs are minimal - production is compactly located along the coast by specialization. The most striking example is Shenzhen, where without leaving the city limits you can go through all the steps of electronic production from the development to loading onto the ship as soon as possible on earth.

    It is the availability of skilled labor and capital, the speed and cost of logistics, a minimum of bureaucracy with import / export - are the necessary prerequisites for successful high-tech production, and not low wages. And in China, with these factors, everything is more or less excellent. Naturally, this does not mean that there are no other problems in China.

    On the impossibility of spending oil revenues

    One often hears that income from the extraction and refining of oil (and other resources) cannot be spent, because they will inevitably cause inflation (" Dutch disease ").

    In fact, of course, they can be spent without inflation within the country - for this they need to be spent abroad immediately, buying imported equipment for production (if they are sold), paying for the working time of foreign engineers that we lack (“insourcing”), buying foreign high-tech companies (if sold). Naturally, the state itself does not particularly need the equipment and man-hours of engineers - and therefore there should be a mechanism by which private companies could, on a competitive basis, receive part of the state’s foreign exchange earnings directly in the form of currency for expenses strictly _ outside the country_. However, to be realistic, one does not have to expect the appearance of such a mechanism in the foreseeable future.

    Naturally, inflation in this case will not go anywhere - it will simply be abroad, and accordingly will be a headache for other countries with a deficit in the balance of foreign trade.

    Returning to the list of popular and incorrect reasons:

    1) There are no smart people. - There are many. But they prefer to work where their work is rated as highly as possible - outsourcing, abroad, in a simple but highly profitable business.
    2) A lot of smart people and innovative ideas, but they do not know how to commercialize them. “Innovative ideas” are trivial in the economy to lose to simple business - so no one is after them. In order for one idea to fire, a test of 99 ideas must be paid and failed.
    3) No money. There is money, but it is mainly earned on a “simple” business by people who are not very interested in high technology (both because of the economy and because of complexity).
    4) Too much oil money / we can only pump oil. This is a good business. Under capitalism, without limitation, the business is obliged to do just that.
    5) VAT (including customs). VAT is available in many countries with developed high-tech production. If the work is carried out legally, then in the event of competition in the foreign market, VAT will be refunded (including customs VAT for imported equipment), but this certainly increases the capital requirements somewhat.
    6) Corruption. Corruption is certainly part of the problem - because allows a simple business to have unreasonably high profits. And so there is corruption everywhere - kickbacks were invented not in Russia, and it is not from good living in China that officials have to be shot - in Asia corruption without control is especially fierce.
    7) The climate is bad (Parshev). In high-tech production, usually controlled temperature and humidity are required - and taking into account the energy consumption for air drying (when it is first cooled and then heated) with the Russian continental climate, energy costs are actually less.
    8) Too few office space built for innovative startups. I think everything is obvious here - as practice has shown, companies of a global scale and in garages / apartments without glamor are normally born.


    In order for commercial high-tech production to emerge and survive - it must be profitable, there must be many people who have money to test and patent protection for a bunch of ideas (1 out of 100 shoots), cheap capital must be available for implementation, it must there will be many engineers who will implement the idea in practice, the implementation process should not be aggravated by logistics (speed and cost of delivery services, prices of local implementing companies) and bureaucratic difficulties (certification, cre tography and the Federal Security Service, Customs, Federal Drug Control Service, even with its limitations on commercial chemicals) that may give an advantage to competitors in other countries.

    How did we get to such a life: In Russia, there is almost no civil / commercial high-tech production, because in the privatization process, private business received “simple”, highly profitable assets. In the future, this business lobbied for laws that preserve “above market” revenues for a simple, low-tech business. The heyday of bureaucracy and all kinds of artificial restrictions (customs, numerous certificates, permits ...) - again, they allow you to have easy profits by overcoming difficulties in special ways.

    Business did not do this because it was kind of bad or stupid: it was the most profitable strategy, and therefore there was no choice .

    In such conditions, a high-tech business (which is obliged to compete in the world market to maximize the series and consequently reduce production costs) is completely unprofitable: it requires a lot of money, skilled engineers, has greater risks, and long payback periods.

    As a result, now a simple business (construction, retail and wholesale, extraction and processing of resources, outsourcing) wins the struggle for investment capital. Naturally, it is possible to attract investments also abroad - but then the investor wants the parent company that owns the main assets to be in a foreign jurisdiction (that is, everything degenerates into the classic “Russian development center” scheme + everything else abroad).

    The state, for its part, is closing the possibility of "initial capital accumulation" for companies performing government contracts (as happened in the Silicon Valley in the USA) - retaining intellectual property and demanding to show modest net profit when executing government contracts on securities, which is not even in the long run makes it possible to earn enough money to launch their risky high-tech projects.

    Want to break Intel?: If you want to create your own high-tech business related to real production - first of all you need a really new idea (with old ideas - usually you need too much money for a commercial result in a busy market), you need to immediately think about how to level existing Russian problems as much as possible: to abandon super-large-budget projects (such as its own processor, plugging in the Intel belt), to make a working prototype on its own, first of all to find engineers - in conditions of extreme shortage skilled labor is a fatal problem, to use a minimum of too expensive capital (and not like Displair), to minimize the number of physical things crossing our customs border (if possible, to 0).

    Want to break Facebook? : Well, everything is much easier here. Bureaucracy, customs and logistics practically do not create problems. It remains only to find a new idea, the availability of capital and skilled engineers - and many more detailed articles are devoted to solving these last 2 problems.

    When to wait for competitive domestic processors and video cards?: x86 processors in the USA are not developed because there are any other people there - after all, our compatriots at Intel, nVidia and many other high-tech companies work. Here the principle of "who first got up - that and slippers." In the Silicon Valley in the 50-70s, a huge pile of American taxpayers' money was poured (about $ 50 billion, taking into account inflation) through military research contracts - and rightly use the result so far.

    In addition, Intel has been reinvesting the proceeds from the sale of processors for more than 40 years in complicating technology, owning a bunch of patents - and in order to reach their level under equal conditions (taxes, bureaucracy, capital availability), I would have roughly estimated $ 352 billion and 30 years of work - which of course no one can do. Everyone needs their Intel for 0.1, or better $ 0.01bn :-)

    However, for the same reasons it is also difficult for the United States to create its own technology for the separation of uranium by centrifuges and build nuclear power reactors with fast neutrons. So somewhere they win, somewhere we, somewhere China - it is necessary to develop where there is an advantage and not to exert oneself where in order to achieve parity all the country's resources would have to be spent on 1 company.

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