13 Dec 2022 10:30

Ministry plans new mechanism to guarantee demand for Russian software - paper

MOSCOW. Dec 13 (Interfax) - Russia's Digital Development Ministry is developing a new system of support for Russian software developers that would guarantee demand for yet to be developed solutions from anchor customers, possibly major state companies, national daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday, citing sources.

The new support mechanism would be launched as part of two new roadmaps for the development of the software industry - New Systemic Software and New Industrial Software, the paper reported, citing IT market sources. Market participants received the tentative versions of the documents for review last week, the sources said. A source close to the office of Deputy Digital Development Minister Maxim Parshin told the paper that the ministry is discussing the idea of creating a mechanism of guaranteed demand for Russian software with developers.

The developer would have to find a potential customer for a solution that does not yet exist and then sign an agreement with the Digital Development Ministry to produce the software within a certain period, one of the paper's sources said. The ministry and the anchor customer would ensure guaranteed demand for this solution in a certain amount.

In order to launch the mechanism, the ministry will probably draft a separate government resolution, the source said, adding that, essentially, the ministry plans to launch something similar to the "cross-cutting projects" mechanism for electronics manufacturers, but for software.

The ministry only said that it is exploring "various mechanisms for attracting extra-budgetary investment in the creation and development of software products," the paper said.

The "cross-cutting projects" mechanism was technically launched in the fall of 2021 after government resolution No. 1619 went into effect. Under this mechanism, anchor customers guarantee electronics developers demand for equipment that does not yet exit. In exchange, the government compensates up to 50% of the cost of the ordered electronics. Projects are selected by the Industry and Trade Ministry.

However, not a single "cross-cutting project" has yet been approved by the government, the paper reported, citing a source at a major electronics manufacturer and a source close to the Industry Ministry. The ministry is not commenting officially on how the mechanism is working.

In November, there were reports about another attempt by the Digital Development Ministry to find a way to support market participants without direct government funding, by granting them priority on the government procurements market. Initially, the ministry planned to finance their projects through grants from the Russian IT Support Fund and Skolkovo Foundation, but the allocated funding is not enough for all the approved projects to replace foreign software, Kommersant reported.

In the absence of direct financial support for Russian software companies, providing guaranteed demand could become a way to develop the industry, a source at a major Russian technology company told the paper. "Any major state or private company interested in the import independence of its IT infrastructure could become an anchor customer," the source said.