BESSEMER VENTURE PARTNERS & SKOLKOVO FOUNDATION COMMIT $20 MILLION FOR RUSSIAN INNOVATION

A foundation in Russia with ties to MIT, which was formed with $5 billion from Russia’s government to spur innovation and boost the high-tech economy, will get a financial boost from Bessemer Venture Partners, an investment firm with offices in Cambridge and Silicon Valley.

Bessemer and the Skolkovo Foundation, a non-profit agency formed in May 2010 to provide funding to high tech companies after seed rounds and A rounds, announced late Wednesday that it would infuse $20 million in investment into the foundation’s resident companies coming from Russia.

The deal with Bessemer, signed at the Global Technology Symposium in Silicon Valley on March 28-30, is the most recent partnership formed between Skolkovo and 29 Russian and international venture firms.

With the agreement, Bessemer will receive priority access to the Skolkovo Foundation’s most promising projects, and have the opportunity to refer its existing companies to register in Skolkovo and receive the Foundation’s support.

An example of projects between high-tech businesses in the U.S. and the foundation is Agenus Inc. of Lexington, which entered into a license, development, and manufacturing technology agreement for its Oncophage vaccine with Russian partner NewVac LLC., a company located in Skolkovo’s Innovation Centre.

Bessemer is no stranger to Russia. The company has been active in the country since 2005 with its investments in Enfort, KupiVIP and Parallels.

“We are thrilled to be working with the Skolkovo Foundation, which has been instrumental in the creation of a vibrant entrepreneurial community in the heart of Russia that is fostering global innovation,” Bessemer Vice President Ed Colloton said in a written statement.

“This company will at last join our list of investors, which has more than 30 Russian and foreign venture capital companies and funds,” said Viktor Vekselberg, president of the Skolkovo Foundation. “Our cooperation contributes to the development of intellectual capital and scientific research, directly leading to the creation of high-tech industries.”

The Foundation is also creating the Skolkovo Innovation Centre comprised of five research and development clusters, a Technopark and the Skolkovo Institute of Technology (a graduate research school established in collaboration with the MIT).

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