It's still pretty tiny but even giants like IBM and Intel are paying attention.
President Vladimir Putin has also taken note, backing the construction of a $650 million technology business district with $100 million in state funding for infrastructure. "We simply mustn't waste this chance," Putin declared in Akademgorodok following a 2005 trip to tech-savvy India, "especially as other countries have achieved success without such a strong starting position." High tech is the sort of thing that the Kremlin, realizing that Russia's natural resources can't last forever, would like to develop.
Tapping brain resources, then, becomes a priority. Every year, Russia graduates as many science and technology specialists as India - 200,000 - although Russia is 80 percent smaller by population. Russian science and technology hold a unique position in the world, with a tradition of critical thinking and developmental breakthrough, along with a professional hunger born of the proximity to actual hunger.
Russia's software exports total $1.8 billion annually; the country is the third-largest software-outsourcing destination in the world, after China and India. "Inside Intel we have an expression," says Steve Chase, president of Intel Russia. "If you have something tough, give it to the Americans. If you have something difficult, give it to the Indians. If you have something impossible, give it to the Russians."