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Why partner with Russia?

Last month I attended the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Russia, along with our CEO John Chambers. Together we participated in the Skolkovo Foundation Council Meeting (held quarterly) where we discussed strategies for increased momentum for Skolkovo. During the forum, John reiterated Cisco’s long-term approach to the country and highlighted the growth and potential of Russia within the context of tough economic times elsewhere in the world – a tremendous opportunity both for Cisco and for Russia.

Two years ago we made a commitment to support the Russian Government’s modernization agenda. Since then we have achieved visible progress in promoting a close partnership with the Russian Government by:

  • Aligning our activities in Russia with the country’s government course
  • Supporting Russia’s intention to modernize its economy and infrastructure, building upon the legacy of innovation that is a part of Cisco’s DNA
  • Offering technology and knowledge to help Russia achieve its national goals
  • Putting our positive stance on public-private partnerships and collaboration into action

A global company like Cisco is involved in public-private partnerships in innovating and renewing communities in many countries of the world. In Paredes, Portugal, Cisco is collaborating with Living PlanIT to develop PlanIT Valley, a sustainable community built on technology that transforms the area into a connected community running on next generation technology. Another example is Cisco’s work with McCaffery Interests in redeveloping the Chicago waterfront to revitalize the area.

I often get asked though, why partner with Russia? I wanted to share some of our thinking with you.

At Cisco, we view Skolkovo as a platform for future growth and innovation of new and emerging technologies. Russia is home to world-class talent in basic and applied sciences, offers a great education system that creates a workforce that has the ability to think differently, and a tenacious and persistent work ethic. These qualities in addition to Russia’s rich history and tradition of discoveries in science and research that has extended for centuries, makes it a perfect choice for Cisco’s innovation incubation efforts.

Cisco is invested in the success of Skolkovo. Earlier this year we outlined our Research and Development plans with the Skolkovo Foundation and are already executing on them. We are now beginning to hire our first engineering team in Russia focused on developing new emerging technologies.

Our plans at Skolkovo don’t stop at software development. As a key partner of the Foundation, we are actively involved in many important areas. For innovation to thrive, the right creative environment is required for the free flow of ideas and capital. Later this year, Cisco will support startups with funding through the launch of our second Skolkovo Innovation Award, focused on discovering and rewarding new promising startups in the areas of Healthcare and Education. We will provide technology and tools to all participants and reward the best startups with seed funding. The support for entrepreneurs through venture capital funding is in line with Cisco’s strategy to nurture innovation from talented people all over the world, as our work with the Almaz/Cisco Venture Capital Fund shows. To date, the Almaz/Cisco Fund has invested in 12 companies, of which 2 have residency in Skolkovo, and another 3 are in the process of applying for residency.

In the area of education, we will launch Cisco’s Entrepreneur Institute at Skolkovo Technopark, which will train Skolkovo Residents on how to develop and grow successful IT businesses. Beyond Skolkovo, we plan to partner with Russian educational institutions on joint technology development and research projects for emerging technologies. This will allow graduate students and researchers to co-develop technologies with Cisco engineers and validate their research against the needs of the marketplace. This extends our education investment in Cisco. Another example is our Networking Academy program in Russia, which was refined a year ago when Cisco announced its intention to triple the number of academies in this country, from 217 to 650, enabling 16,000 Russians to be trained each year by 2015. We are well on our way to meeting this goal.

In closing, we believe there is tremendous opportunity in Russia and we applaud the country for investing in its future and its people by spurring innovation, job creation and economic growth.

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Cisco and Sistema JSFC provide “Lift to the Future” for Russian Youth

Guest post from Frantisek Jakab

Frantisek Jakab is the Program Manager of Cisco Networking Academy in Slovakia

Russia’s concerted efforts to grow indigenous talent received significant boost recently. Cisco, the global leader in networking, and Sistema JSFC, Russia’s largest public investment company, have announced collaboration to enhance the quality of ICT education in Russia.

Why is it important? Russia wants to foster innovation locally via projects like Skolkovo that aim to create an ecosystem for innovation. To run that ecosystem, Russia will need local talent: world class technologists and entrepreneurs. The “Lift to the Future” project, launched by Sistema late last year, intends to be a vehicle to groom such talent from schools and universities by offering tutoring on Russia’s first youth tutorage network.


Cisco and Sistema JSFC Signed MoU to Enhance Cooperation and Help Modernize ICT Education in Russia
Photo: Elena Shmeleva (Sistema) and Paul Betsis (Cisco)


At ‘Social Lifts for Talented Youth -- Best Russian Experience’, a pioneering conference held by Sistema in cooperation with Moscow State Lomonosov University and Vedomosti daily newspaper, Cisco and Sistema have signed an MoU. According to it, Cisco will donate network equipment and provide access to its education programs.  In addition, the company will carry out skills-upgrade courses for teachers of the educational establishments involved in the project.  From its own side, Sistema will help Cisco to expand the Cisco Networking Academy™ program in Russia. Moreover, both companies intend to collaborate in launching student competitions, forums and summer schools to support talented Russian youth.

Elena Shmeleva, vice president of Sistema Charity Foundation, gave Cisco credit for being the first company to support the “Lift to the Future” project, stressing that “Education content provided by Cisco, as well as its unique training methodology will become a basis for training skilled ICT professionals and supporting Russian IT education within this project.”

For more details, please visit


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Bulgarian President Visits Cisco Headquarters in Silicon Valley

During his first official visit to the U.S., recently elected Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev visited Cisco’s corporate headquarters yesterday and met with John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco. President Plevneliev and Mr. Chambers discussed the role technology and IT adoption can play in driving economic growth and competitiveness.

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers and Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev at Cisco HQ

Mr. Chambers informed the president about Cisco’s activities in Bulgaria and reconfirmed the company’s commitment to the country. Cisco has been present in Bulgaria since 1999 and has been actively contributing to building a knowledge-based economy by creating an ecosystem of more than 200 local partners.

The company also has a developer team based in the capital Sofia, who are focused on developing Cisco Quad, a highly-innovative enterprise collaboration platform. Cisco Quad helps connect people to information and expertise they need, when they need it. It helps facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas across geographic and organizational boundaries. Virgin Media, Nike, GE and Bank of America are some of Cisco’s global customers who already use the Quad platform. Collaboration is one of Cisco’s five strategic priorities.

Cisco’s largest corporate social responsibility initiative, Cisco Networking Academy, has been active in Bulgaria since 1999 and there are currently more than 50 academies operating across the country. Since its launch in Bulgaria, more than 17,000 local students have participated in the diverse IT and networking courses offered by the academy.

President Plevneliev was accompanied by Elena Poptodorova, the Bulgarian ambassador to the U.S., James B. Warlick, U.S. ambassador to Bulgaria, as well as a delegation of Bulgarian business leaders. Cisco Bulgaria general manager Borislav Dimitrov also joined the meeting, whilst Peter Hajdu, Cisco regional manager for South East Europe and a team of Cisco Bulgaria employees participated virtually using Cisco TelePresence technology.

We look forward to continuing the strategic partnership between Cisco and the Bulgarian government and working together to advance the president’s innovation agenda.

Singularity is approaching – and what does Central and Eastern Europe do about it?

What is singularity? The word has several interpretations in mathematics, geometry, natural sciences and technology. Increasingly, it is used to describe an exponential emergence of technological development with the potential of changing the world as we know it.

Singularity University (SU), located at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, was established in 2008 to create a global network of like-minded entrepreneurs, technologists and young leaders, dedicated to innovation and exploring the ways to singularity.

To make its efforts truly world-wide, SU launched a series of Global Impact Competitions, including one in Central and Eastern Europe, which is nearing its finals at the end of this week. Supported by Cisco, the competition reached thousands of university students, young entrepreneurs and business people in the region. Organizers were looking for innovative project ideas which could improve the lives of one million people in a 3-year period with the help of technology.

54 applications were submitted from eight countries, addressing issues of health, education or security. The minds behind the six most outstanding projects will get together on May 4th in Budapest, Hungary, to present their ideas and compete for the grand prize, an invitation to Singularity University’s summer course this year, worth 30 000 USD.  The jury will be chaired by noone less than Professor Erno Rubik, the inventor of the Rubik cube.

So cross fingers for the finalists and their exciting ideas and watch this space to find out who wins later this week:

  • Agnieszka Gaczkowska, Poland: Drug waste -- web-based service for used medicaments location and drug shortages alerts
  • Tamas Haidegger, Hungary: Hand Hygiene for a Healthier Planet- innovative education and objective control on personal hygiene
  • Vaclav Plevka, Czech Republic: Avoiding the Gridlock Incident in order to Keep the Conurbations in Operation
  • Bogdana Rakova, Bulgaria: LIVEstat- phone assisted healthy shopping
  • Daniel Ratai, Hungary: Leonar3Do the VR kit changing education, teaching and lifelong learning
  • Priszcilla Varnagy, Hungary: Be-novative: Conquering real-life challenges with creativity

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Cisco furthers investments in global socio-economic development

At this week’s opening ceremony of the Cisco Plus Brazil 2012 conference in Rio de Janeiro, we stood with local and national government officials and formally announced our strategic investment initiatives in Brazil. Through the use of information and communications technology, Cisco hopes to foster the level of innovation, transformation and socio-economic development necessary to sustain the country’s growth and competitiveness.

In Brazil, our R$1 billion investment will be distributed over the next four years around the pillars of innovation, venture capital funding, strategic local partnerships and expansion in local manufacturing. In the second half of 2012, Cisco will be inaugurating a center of innovation in Rio de Janeiro to develop customized technology solutions for the country. First round efforts will be focused on sports and entertainment technology, public safety and security, as well as improved access to education and healthcare. The center will also help support Cisco’s global Smart+Connected Communities initiatives through developing efficient urban infrastructures and fostering growth within new and existing cities in Brazil.

In an effort to capture the immense economic and innovation potential in the Brazilian ICT market, we are working with local partners and dedicating up to R$100 million of the investment to create the largest high-tech VC fund in the country. We are also continuing efforts in building local partnerships to properly address some key opportunities in Brazil. A recent intellectual property agreement with Intelbras – a leader in the Brazilian telephony market – is aimed at encouraging local SMBs to migrate towards IP telephony. In the area of R&D, Cisco will continue to support the Planetary Skin Institute (PSI), a global, independent nonprofit R&D organization. PSI has developed multiple agreements with leading R&D institutions in Brazil to co-develop high-priority platforms for the country, such as early warning systems.

Back in 2010, we officially began production of set top boxes in Brazil through a partnership with cable service provider NET Serviços. Since its inception in early 2011, the Manaus plant has already been through two expansion efforts. Local manufacturing initiatives continue to reinforce our commitment to technological development, entrepreneurship and job creation around the globe. Cisco will continue fostering local manufacturing efforts in Brazil to include production of our best-selling core routing and switching products.

We are continuing these efforts in other areas of the globe as well, with notable recent developments in Russia.

Marthin De Beer and Viktor Vekselberg sign R&D roadmap

Coming off last week’s signing of an R&D strategy roadmap with the Skolkovo Foundation, we’re excited to announce the availability of our 2911R/K9 router, the third Cisco product made in Russia. These developments represent further commitment to Brazil and Russia as key global priorities and countries with immense growth potential.

Assembly of our one of our most popular Integrated Services Routers, the ISR 2911 / K9 bundle has been launched in the city of Tver in Russia, following a pilot project in early march. The 2911R/K9 Integrated Services Router will be available to the Russian market through a network of authorized Cisco partners. To date, this marks the third Cisco product made in Russia. In 2011, we announced the availability of both a VPN hardware solution and Cisco set top boxes, made possible through collaborative local partnerships.

The first Cisco ISR 2911 assembled in Russia

Cisco 2911R/K9 Integrated Services Routers (ISR) are designed to power the next phase of branch-office evolution, providing rich media collaboration and virtualization to the branch while reducing operating costs. The Cisco 2911R/K9 reduces initial capital outlays by decoupling the delivery of software from hardware on optional service modules. In addition, customers receive a Universal IOS image capable of enabling all of Cisco’s rich IOS features and allowing quicker deployment of new services. Integrated anti-malware tools as well as voice, data and mobile access security features helps to support a high level of data security. The router also opens great opportunities for remote operations by flexibly supporting VPN, to provide remote employees with secure access to corporate resources via secure channels.

Through the expansion of local manufacturing efforts in Russia, Cisco is delivering on its vision to stimulate local entrepreneurship and sustainable innovation, bolster job creation in the region and introduce the most advanced technologies to the area. Coupled with the activities in Brazil, we are proud and excited of our further involvement in the growth and development of these key economies