SPIEF 2021 was the first business event of such magnitude to be held offline since the unavoidable break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forum closely resembled previous editions of the event, with a range of cutting-edge digital technologies employed. Among those to attend were President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin; a host of global leaders; senior executives from major Russian and international companies and banks; and prominent scientists, journalists, and members of the business community.
The event was organized by the Roscongress Foundation.
The Forum was held under the theme A Collective Reckoning of the New Global Economic Reality, and addressed the clear need to return to face-to-face discussions in an attempt to turn innovative ideas into tangible breakthroughs across the globe. The very fact that it had been possible to hold such a high-profile event was significant in itself, indicating as it did a return to normality in terms of partnerships and engagement between entrepreneurs, investors, and experts. Businesspeople appreciate better than anyone the importance of being able to meet in person and work together in an atmosphere of mutual trust. Indeed, this factor is often key to pushing business projects and initiatives forward.
“We have succeeded in holding a Forum which has been engaging, far-reaching, and above all, safe. The safety measures which were put in place enabled the thousands of participants, speakers, experts, and journalists in attendance to get the very most from the event, just as they had done in years past. It has once again been possible to hold face-to-face discussions, network, meet colleagues, and make new contacts. SPIEF has yet again upheld its status as a unique international event and the world’s biggest and most progressive business platform to discuss key issues facing the regional and global economy,” said Advisor to the President of the Russian Federation and Executive Secretary of the SPIEF Organizing Committee Anton Kobyakov.
The four-day event brought together more than 13,500 participants from 141 countries, including 5,000 representatives of Russian and international companies, and 1,500 senior executives.
More than 1,000 media outlets from 46 countries operated at the Forum’s various venues.
With its rich business programme and large number of events, SPIEF 2021 more than emulated the previous edition of the Forum. Indeed, the business programme alone included more than 190 events, with more than 80 events organized at special thematic areas.
The official opening ceremony took place on 3 June. Among those to take part were Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation; His Excellency Ali bin Ahmed Al Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry and Acting Minister of Finance of the State of Qatar; and Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda.
Joining the opening ceremony online were Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chairperson of the African Union; David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group; and Trần Tuấn Anh, Member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Vietnam and Chairman of the Economic Commission of the Vietnam Communist Party. The welcome address was given by Governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov.
The Forum’s main event was the plenary session, which took place on 4 June and featured President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. Joining the session via video link were specially invited guests Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, and Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria. Also welcoming participants were Alberto Fernández, President of Argentina, and Jair Messias Bolsonaro, President of Brazil.
Vladimir Putin used his address to share his assessment of the global economy and highlight issues on the domestic business agenda. He also drew attention to issues surrounding social assistance to people in need, new forms of support to small and medium-sized enterprises, and overarching changes in the environmental sphere.
“Clearly, as we enter the stage of post-crisis recovery, it is not only essential to maintain a stable trajectory of qualitative growth, but also to capitalize on emerging opportunities, effectively develop our competitive advantages, and boost our potential in the fields of science and technology. Given this, it is crucial to both preserve and further strengthen business and investment ties between countries,” said Putin.
The Forum also hosted video conferences between the Russian President and senior figures from major international companies and leading global news agencies. The meeting with international companies focused on priority areas of collaboration and plans to implement specific joint ventures in the Russian regions.
The Forum featured talks and appearances by more than 1,300 Russian and international speakers, moderators, and politicians over the course of the four days. Together, they were able to share their knowledge, experience, and best practices with participants.
Discussions at the Forum centred around four thematic pillars, with each one dedicated to particular aspects concerning the Russian and global economy, the social sphere, and the tech agenda. These were entitled “Joining Forces to Advance Development”, “Delivering on National Development Targets”, “The Human Factor in Responding to Global Challenges”, and “New Technology Frontiers”.
The numerous discussions to take place focused on priorities for putting Russia on a successful development path and raising the country’s competitiveness on the global stage. These encompassed the energy sector, the environment, the development of the Arctic, drug security, the creative industries, support for SMEs, and education.
Sessions dedicated to the energy agenda highlighted the fact that by 2050, the global energy mix is forecast to be based heavily around hydrocarbons, which are expected to account for at least 71% of the total. The era of oil and gas is not about to end, and traditional energy resources will continue to play a role. Nevertheless, Russia has set out a clear energy strategy which envisages the development of clean energy alongside traditional forms.
The development and global transformation of the healthcare sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the key themes of the Forum. Specific topics included the stability of the sector when confronted by crises, measures which need to be taken to increase Russia’s national life expectancy target, the potential of innovative treatment methods (including targeted therapy), breakthroughs in genetic technologies, and the digitalization of healthcare. The threat of future epidemics (along with the ability of the healthcare sector to counter them) came under the spotlight, as did issues surrounding the development of safe and effective next‑generation vaccines as the best way of preventing life-threatening illnesses. More than 300 senior government officials, leading figures in healthcare and science, and representatives of the commercial and non-commercial sectors were invited as speakers, experts, and moderators for discussions of key issues facing the healthcare sector. The Forum brought together experts from Italy, the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Israel, Serbia, India, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and other countries.
The climate agenda was similarly prominent at the Forum, and encompassed issues such as reducing the energy sector’s carbon emissions, introducing green certificates, implementing ESG principles, developing new energy sources (such as hydrogen) and related technologies, and applying digital solutions in the fuel and energy sector. It was noted that efforts had begun in Russia to systemically address issues concerning environmental safety. The Ecology national project has set the ambitious goal of ensuring that 100% of waste is sent for sorting, and the amount of household waste sent to landfill sites is halved by 2030. This represents a fundamentally new approach.
The Forum also hosted a number of sessions dedicated to the Arctic. These were the first events of their kind to take place under Russia’s chairmanship of the Arctic Council, which began this year, and is set to run to 2023. It provided a fitting opportunity to present Russia’s aims, objectives, and priorities during its incumbency. Issues which came under discussion included shipping operations, funding for investment projects, developing the telecommunications infrastructure, and making businesses more socially and environmentally responsible. In addition, the Corporation for the Development of the Far East and Arctic established a secretariat for the council’s Russian committee.
Elsewhere, several sessions at the Forum focused on the accelerated development of the Russian Far East. Measures that had been put in place to support investment projects in the region were assessed, and subsequent steps to achieve economic growth in the Far East were determined. Participants also discussed what steps should be taken by the government and business sector to enact qualitative structural shifts and make a substantial leap forward in terms of technology, while maintaining current levels of growth.
Another event to take place at SPIEF was the 6th Russian Small and Medium‑sized Enterprises Forum, which focused on measures to support businesses. Indeed, support for SMEs was a major talking point, with Vladimir Putin raising the issue at the plenary session. Putin proposed launching a new initiative to support small and medium entrepreneurship as early as this year, consisting of an umbrella guarantee by the SME Corporation for loans issued by partner banks. He also spoke of plans to maintain insurance contribution incentives introduced in 2020 for small companies, and to make SMEs exempt from anti-monopoly control measures which are clearly superfluous.
The modernization of the education system was another widely discussed topic at the Forum. A new national project was unveiled entitled ProShkola – an initiative by Prosveshcheniye Group, VEB RF Group, and Sber, and overseen by the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation. It forms a cornerstone of the Education national project, and will help the regions build new schools under government programmes to develop the education sector. Particular attention was given to the work of the Znanie Society and the New Knowledge national education marathon.
This was the first edition of SPIEF to feature an interactive studio run by the Russian Znanie Society. The studio welcomed more than 50 key speakers from the Forum, who had been invited by the society to elucidate complex subjects, speak about events at the venue, and to share their perspectives on key global trends affecting the economy, society, and education. There was an element of interactivity as well, with viewers able to submit questions to the guests via the studio website. The most interesting of these were posed to key speakers during live interviews and at sessions held as part of the Forum’s business programme. The Russian Znanie Society also used SPIEF as an opportunity to interact with children and young people, with the organization putting on 16 specially designed tours for school pupils taking part in the Big Change national competition. The children were given the chance to learn more about historic locations and key events to have taken place in St. Petersburg.
A range of business dialogues between Russia and other countries/regions were also held, and as in previous years garnered particular interest. Eleven such events took place at SPIEF 2021, including Russia–Qatar, Russia–France, Russia–Africa, Russia–Italy, Russia–Latin America, Russia–Germany, Russia–North America, Russia–Finland, Russia–Sweden, Russia–Japan, and Russia–ASEAN.
This year’s Forum marked the sixth time that the results of the Russian Regional Investment Climate Index were announced at the event. The top five regions were revealed to be Moscow, the Republic of Tatarstan, Tyumen Region, Tula Region, and the Republic of Bashkortostan.
The Youth International Economic Forum was one of the highlights of the closing day of SPIEF. Young entrepreneurs, students, and leaders from non-profit organizations gathered to talk to renowned international experts about today’s biggest economic and political issues. As in previous editions of the event, the Forum began with a networking session, which over the years has enjoyed great popularity. participants had the opportunity to meet professionals from various industries, and make useful contacts with potential partners and other likeminded people. Many of the sessions at the Forum focused on mentorship practices and ways to encourage youth entrepreneurship.
SPIEF 2021 welcomed more than 100 representatives of Friends for Leadership (a network of thought leaders and entrepreneurs) from 32 countries. Their participation was facilitated by Rossotrudnichestvo and the New Generation programme. They were able to hold a range of sessions at the Roscongress Foundation’s venues, sign agreements, brainstorm ways to promote their projects, and arrange a series of high-level meetings with Russian business figures and government representatives. SPIEF first provided a platform for Friends for Leadership in 2018. Since that time, the community has grown, and today spans 102 countries. It has also forged contacts and official links with the UN, major international organizations, and various global movements. Members of the community have committed to work towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals through rolling out projects and best practices, and also through sharing experiences in implementing their own projects.
Eight hundred and eighty volunteers from 80 colleges and universities across Russia also played a key role in making the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum a success, providing assistance at the Forum venue, accreditation points, hotels, Pulkovo International Airport, and Moskovsky Rail Terminal. This year saw volunteers fulfilling an even greater number of roles. In addition to providing their usual help to Forum guests and participants, they also advised people on PCR testing, checked that Rospotrebnadzor requirements were being followed at the venue, and distributed personal protective equipment.
In addition to traditional fixtures, the Forum included a number of new events and features. This year’s SPIEF hosted the inaugural edition of the Drug Security Forum, which provided a space for stakeholders in healthcare to work together in the interests of further development in the sector. The 12 panel sessions covered a range of topics, including improving the medication procurement system, employing digital technology in medicine, and making medication more accessible to the population. The event resulted in a number of practical proposals being drawn up to facilitate development and innovation in the pharmaceutical industry.
The Creative Business Forum was another event to take place at SPIEF for the first time. The development of the creative industries is a key topic affecting the entire globe, given the current demand for products which provide experiences. The Forum hosted more than 30 plenary sessions, and concluded at the World Café. Innosocium LAB welcomed more than 270 speakers for the event, which focused on various aspects affecting the development of the creative industries. These included global competition, Russia’s potential in the field, risks and barriers hindering rapid growth in the creative sector, global trends in the industry, education, technological development, and legal regulation. A great many subjects were covered at 28 creative-lab sessions; however, the main event was a discussion entitled “The Creative Industries: A Breakthrough Pathway” at the World Cafe.
Another first at this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum was the SPIEF Junior Forum, which was attended by 200 school pupils from across Russia, together with their peers from Qatar – the guest country of the Forum. The event encompassed 25 business sessions, which provided a platform for the school pupils to share their views and ideas on socioeconomic topics (usually considered to be the domain of adults) at the very highest level. More than 100 distinguished speakers from Russia and around the world took part in the Forum, including representatives from the US, Germany, and Argentina. The business section of the event included a plenary discussion between school pupils from Russia and Qatar.
No fewer than 14 sessions on healthcare took place at the Healthy Life Area, which provided the opportunity to discuss a large range of issues. These included the fight against infectious and non-infectious diseases, high-tech developments for the medical sector, building medical ecosystems, and the development of medical science in Russia. The Healthy Life Area also hosted presentations of innovative healthcare projects, a VR simulation of a biotech laboratory and chemistry experiments, and health food products.
Participants were also able to visit the Building Trust Area at SPIEF, which highlighted innovation, the social agenda, and education as a means to secure a sustainable future. The area also hosted a meeting of the Supervisory Board of the Con-nection Deafblind Support Foundation.
The Innovation Space provided a platform for representatives of innovative and high-tech companies to meet and talk. Discussions took place on implementing IT innovations at major organizations, developing new production methods for customized consumer goods, developing the electric vehicle sector, protecting the environment, and responsible consumption. Over the four days it was open, the Innovation Space at SPIEF 2021 hosted 19 events which were visited by around 2,000 people. The total number of speakers and participants exceeded 150.
The following topics proved to be of particular interest at the Innovation Space:
· Electric Transport: How Innovations are Transforming Big Cities
· Smart Money: New Technologies in the Financial Sector
· The Battle for Offline: What Innovations Can Help Traditional Retail Combat the Advance of Online Stores?
· Digital Security in Cities of the Future
· Innovative Educational Technologies in the Service of Business
· The Strategy of Innovations: How Ecosystems Help Technologies to Grow
A project to build a bottle collection system in Russia though a network of reverse vending machines was also presented. It is hoped that this will increase recycling and sales of recycled products.
Those taking part in discussions noted that 2020 was a breakthrough year in terms of innovations. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, IT projects in the medical sector which were supported by key, life-saving business processes took on immense importance.
Another venue to operate over the four days of SPIEF was Business Priority, which hosted 16 events which were visited by a total of more than 1,200 people. One such event was a pitch session highlighting the top investment projects on investinregions.ru, which was run by the RC Investment Foundation – the Roscongress Foundation’s investment platform. Elsewhere, a panel discussion entitled “Education of the Future: How Can We Capitalize on the Implementation of New Formats?” examined the results of a competition to identify the top 10 innovation companies in education.
The Forum also showcased a number of exciting innovations. These included a driverless taxi with a long electric-battery-powered driving range; a unique development enabling people who have lost their sight to recover it again; a robot dog prototype for an intelligent machine; the innovative low-floor Corsair tram, which offers increased comfort and accessibility for people with limited mobility, and which fully complies with the requirements set out in the government’s Accessible Environment programme.
Elsewhere, visitors were able to explore an exhibition showcasing Russia’s bid to host Expo 2030 in Moscow. The theme of Russia’s bid is “Human Progress. A Shared Vision of a World of Harmony!”, and envisages a world where nature, technology, and humankind coexist in perfect harmony. It is a vision in which concepts of progress and harmonious development are inextricably linked in all human endeavours, and that global environmental challenges and sustainable development remain key factors when considering what steps to take. A sense of responsibility for the future of the planet is a key component of any global achievement in technology, science, and culture.
The Governors’ Club hosted 226 meetings attended by 43 regional leaders from across Russia, senior figures from national ministries and government bodies, foreign officials, and entrepreneurs. Forty-four agreements were signed in total.
The Business Networking Platform was another popular feature at the Forum, with 679 meetings held over the four days of the Forum. The venue saw talks take place between representatives of businesses and organizations, figures from major Russian and international banks, and members of international delegations.
RC Fashion & Style was another new feature at SPIEF 2021, and provided a space for participants to hold discussions on beauty, fashion, and lifestyle. Female speakers were able to take advantage of an express salon and a private “no heels zone”.
FORUM GUESTS AND PARTICIPANTS
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum welcomed officials, leading figures in politics and society, and business representatives from 141 countries across the globe.
Among the high-profile international figures to attend were H.E. Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar; Gennady Bekoyev, Prime Minister of South Ossetia; Serdar Berdimuhamedow, deputy chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan; Anatoly Bibilov, President of South Ossetia; Mahdi Gulaid, Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia; Petros Mavimbela, Speaker of the House of Assembly of the Kingdom of Eswatini; Shahin Mustafayev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan; Nuno Gomes Nabiam, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau, Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda; Firmin Ngrebada, Prime Minister of the Central African Republic; Ljupco Nikolovski, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of fight against corruption and crime, sustainable development and human resources of the Republic of North Macedonia; Kristina Ozgan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of Abkhazia; Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia; Richard Sulík, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy of the Slovak Republic; Dzambolat Tadtaev, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development of South Ossetia; and Félix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Forty-three foreign ministers and 84 heads of diplomatic corps from 93 countries also took part in the Forum.
In addition, a large number of international organizations were represented by senior figures. Among them were Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum; Gilles Carbonnier, Vice President of the International Committee of the Red Cross; Dmitry Kobitsky, Secretary General and Head of the Secretariat of the Council of the Interparliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States; Joseph McMonigle, Secretary General of the International Energy Forum; Michelle Manook, Chief Executive of the World Coal Association; Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission; Dmitry Pankin, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank; Sergei Pospelov, Executive Secretary of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Collective Security Treaty Organization; Yury Sentyurin, Secretary General of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum; Angela Wilkinson, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the World Energy Council; Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); and Mads Frederiksen, Director of the Arctic Economic Council. Also joining the Forum via video link was Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Thirty-two African nations were represented at the Forum, with many sending high-level delegations, including Burundi, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Egypt, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Libya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, and the Central African Republic.
Heads of state to visit the Forum for the first time included Nuno Gomes Nabiam, Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau; Edouard Ngirente, Prime Minister of the Republic of Rwanda; and Firmin Ngrebada, Prime Minister of the Central African Republic. There were also a number of high-profile speakers and parliamentarians, including Petros Mavimbela, Speaker of the House of Assembly of the Kingdom of Eswatini; Patrick Matibini, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Zambia; and Catherine Gotani Hara, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Malawi.
The Forum was visited by 9 deputy prime ministers and 16 ministers from Russia. Participants included Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council; Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma; Alexey Kudrin, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber; Elvira Nabiullina, Governor of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation; and Igor Krasnov, Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. In total, 32 heads of national government bodies attended the event, together with 77 regional leaders from across Russia.
Participants joining online included Olga Algayerova, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE); Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization; Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund; Elena Dovgan, UN Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of the Unilateral Coercive Measures on the Enjoyment of Human Rights; Emma Marcegaglia, Chair of the Business 20 (B20); John Murton, Envoy of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26); Marcos Troyjo, President of the New Development Bank; Renaud Seligmann, Country Director for the Russian Federation, Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank Group; and Helga Schmid, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
As guest country at SPIEF, Qatar sent the largest foreign delegation to the Forum, with around 400 members.
Other countries to send large numbers of business representatives included the US (more than 200 people), Germany (more than 140 people), the UK (more than 110 people), and France (more than 100 people). This was in keeping with patterns from previous editions of the Forum.
A large number of leading companies from the Forbes list were also represented at the Forum, with many sending top-level executives, including TotalEnergies SE, Siemens AG, SAP SE, Linde Plc, Qatar National Bank QPSC, Schneider Electric SE, Societe Generale SA, Engie SA, ABB Ltd, BP Plc, OMV AG, Glencore plc, Schlumberger Ltd, Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson AB, Fortum Corporation, Baker Hughes Company, Knorr-Bremse AG, RMB Advisory Group LLC, and Pirelli & C SpA.
SPIEF 2021 welcomed Qatar as guest country, which in turn sent one of the largest delegations to the Forum.
The 2,000-m2 Qatar Pavilion resembled an entire city in its own right. Qatar provided an incredibly rich business programme, consisting of more than 20 sessions. These focused on collaboration in investment, innovation, security in the Middle East, and a host of other topics. In the Doha Hall, the Qatar Development Bank showcased nine high-tech Qatari startups together with their innovative solutions for various industries. In total, more than 250 meetings took place between Qatari and Russian business representatives, and around 60 agreements were signed.
In his address to participants at SPIEF 2021, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said, “This edition of SPIEF is taking place in the midst of unprecedented challenges facing the economy... This only serves to increase the importance of the Forum, which has become a key international economic event. It also serves as an example for the international community with regard to advancing initiatives capable of fostering an environment conducive to regional and global economic growth, increased investment, and developing effecting solutions to shared economic issues. The truly international nature of this Forum in St. Petersburg clearly reflects the special role Russia plays in global and regional processes.
COVID-19 SAFETY MEASURES
An unprecedented set of sanitary and epidemiological requirements were in place for this year’s Forum. All participants were required to provide a negative PCR test for COVID-19 in order for their accreditation badge to be activated. Only then were they able to access the venue. In total, more than 50,000 coronavirus tests were taken in the period leading up to and during SPIEF. A full range of safety measures were in force throughout. To enter the Forum venue, participants had to pass through checkpoints where they had their temperature measured with thermographic cameras and hand thermometers. Strict checks were also in place to ensure that people used personal protective equipment.
Indeed, one of the main outcomes of the Forum was that a set of safety standards had been drawn up for holding major events all over the world during the pandemic. These standards were developed by the Roscongress Foundation in cooperation with Rospotrebnadzor and the World Health Organization.
SPIEF 2021 saw an unprecedented 890 agreements signed, eclipsing 2019’s 745 agreements worth a total of RUB 3.271 trillion. In addition, more than 150 international agreements were signed.
This year, the total value of signed agreements not classed as confidential exceeded RUB 4.2666 trillion.
These agreements covered infrastructure and transport projects, the development of major production fields, and the construction of recreation facilities. They include, for example, agreements outlining the construction of a resort complex in Crimea and the creation of the region’s first theme park, a new Tolyatti bypass road, and the construction of a meat-processing cluster in Tula Region.
More than 160 agreements (the highest single proportion) covered socioeconomic and interregional cooperation. Elsewhere, more than 110 agreements were signed covering the high-tech sector, 80 covering the banking sector, and no fewer than 50 covering education and science.
The following regions led the way in terms of agreements signed:
· Leningrad Region (29 agreements worth a total of RUB 1.32036 trillion)
· St. Petersburg (more than RUB 600 billion)
· Moscow Region (47 agreements signed worth a total of RUB 250 billion)
· Republic of Karelia (15 agreements signed worth more than RUB 236 billion)
· Krasnodar Territory (22 agreements signed worth a total of RUB 160 billion)
· Tula Region (26 agreements signed worth more than RUB 150 billion)
· Republic of Bashkortostan (25 agreements signed worth more than RUB 122 billion)
· Tver Region (more than RUB 91 billion)
More than 165 organizations participated in SPIEF 2021 as partners, with 48 exhibitors.
The Forum organizing committee introduced a new form of partnership for this year’s event – that of Title Partner. The status was conferred on Sberbank – one of the biggest banks in Russia and a leading global financial institution.
Mercedes-Benz Russia was the official car of the Forum.
The official taxi of the Forum (or rather, the official private chauffeur service of SPIEF) was Wheely, which offered guests and participants the chance to book journeys in premium cars. All cars in first, luxe, and XL service categories benefited from exclusive access to special pick-up and drop-off zones at event venues. This enabled guests to be confident of arriving at any pavilion both quickly and in comfort. Wheely also applied stringent safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. All drivers had to take PCR tests in advance, and wear masks during the entire journey. In addition, all contact surfaces in the car were disinfected after each journey, and passengers were offered hygiene kits.
A centralized dispatch centre was set up by RC Service, which from 15 May offered efficient 24-hour transport support for Forum participants, and also comprehensively monitored transport provision.
Rosseti was the Forum’s Strategic Partner, and ensured that the venue was equipped with special high-reliability electric power supply.
As in previous years, Russia’s leading air carrier Aeroflot was the Official Airline of the Forum.
VTB Bank was the general sponsor of the Forum, which also had several General Partners, including VEB.RF, Gazprom, the MIR Payment System, NOVATEK, Tinkoff Ecosystem, Yandex (for the first time), and 1C.
MegaFon was Telecommunication Partner, Russian Post was Logistics Partner, MAER Media Holding was Communications Partner, Baring Vostok was Innovation Partner, VSK was Official Insurer, the Russian Ecological Operator was Ecological Partner, and PwC was Knowledge Partner.
A large number of major companies also continued their long-running partnerships with the Forum, including Gazprom Neft, Gazprombank, DOM.RF, the Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), Lukoil, Otkritie Bank, Russian Railways, Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, Rosneft, the Russian Agricultural Bank, Rostec Corporation, Transoil, Trust Non-Core Assets Bank, Uralkali, Uralchem, and EY.
In addition, a host of major companies participated as partners. These included Bronka Group, Almaz-Antey, the International Agency for Sovereign Development (IASD), Credit Bank of Moscow, the National Transport Association, the Russian National Commercial Bank, Rostelecom, Sovcombank, PhosAgro, Accenture, Alfa Bank, the Deposit Insurance Agency, Sistema, Baker Hughes, GE Rus, En+ Group, the Eurasian Development Bank, Huawei, Inter RAO, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium-R, KPMG, McDonald’s, Metalloinvest Management Company, the Moscow Exchange, DUBAI EXPO, FORTESCUE, UMMC Port Assets, Severstal, Schneider Electric, Sibanthracite Group, SIBUR Holding, SOCAR, Transneft, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, BITRIVER, Stada (Nizhpharm), Takeda Pharmaceuticals, TGC-1, the Art, Science and Sport charity foundation, the Education Above All Foundation, RUTEK, Coca-Cola, Mars, PepsiCo, Orimi Group, and many more.
Thirty media outlets (including 23 Russian organizations and 7 international organizations) joined as media partners.
Russian media partners included Russia 24 news channel, RT television channel, RBC, Rambler&Co (Gazeta.ru, Lenta.ru, Sekret Firmy), Izvestia Multimedia Information Centre (Izvestia newspaper, RenTV television channel, Channel Five), TASS News Agency, Rossiya Segodnya International Media Group (RIA Novosti, Sputnik, Prime News Agency), Interfax News Agency, Business FM, Echo of Moscow radio station, NTV Broadcasting Company, the RUTUBE video hosting platform, 360° television channel, MIR International Television and Radio Company, Kommersant publishing house, Vedomosti Business Daily, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Komsomolskaya Pravda publishing house, Argumenty i Fakty publishing house, EXPERT business weekly, Forbes, Sovetsky Sport, and Mail.ru.
International media partners included CNBC, CCTV, Caixin, Euronews, Xinhua, Reuters, and Radio France International.
Many of the events on the SPIEF cultural programme took place as part of the St. Petersburg Seasons Festival, which hosted more than 30 events across a range of themes. Forum guests had the opportunity to visit numerous exhibitions held at museums both in and around St. Petersburg. There were also sightseeing tours, a charity auction entitled Russia’s Modern Heritage, a guest performance of The Forest by the Gorky Moscow Art Theatre, and an edition of the Igroki intellectual show.
The festival began with the opening of an exhibition of Nikolai Tsvetkov’s work at Outlet Village Pulkovo, entitled Tunes of the White Nights. The exhibition will run until 31 July.
The central event of the St. Petersburg Seasons Festival was a tribute concert for medics and volunteers, which took place on 3 June on Palace Square, and which was enjoyed by locals, visitors, and participants alike. The concert featured performances by Diana Arbenina of Russian pop group Night Snipers and the Teatro Petruzzelli Symphony Orchestra (Bari, Italy). Around 20,000 spectators enjoyed the concert, which was held in adherence to Rospotrebnadzor requirements.
The festival also saw the opening of an exhibition at the Line of Masters Gallery – the first such gallery of folk crafts, which aims to preserve priceless and world‑renowned traditions of creating and painting objects.
Elsewhere, the StandArt Foundation for Contemporary Arts held a fair showcasing affordable contemporary Russian art. The event, which was entitled StandArt Pocket Fair, was held at the Berthold Centre from 4 to 6 June. It was the first fair to be held in Russia in which NFT art was presented together with traditional artwor ks.
A cooperation agreement was signed between the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation and the Roscongress Foundation. Minister of Sport Oleg Matytsin took part in two sessions held as part of the SPIEF business programme: “Sports against COVID-19: New Mission and Development Strategy” and “The Role of Sport in Shaping the Youth Policy of the Future”. He also attended a brunch entitled “Sports Tourism as a Driver of Regional Development”, which took place at Peterhof Golf Club during the Roscongress Golf Cup. In addition, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Roscongress Foundation and the Russian Triathlon Federation.
A range of events across 12 sporting disciplines were held under the sporting programme. Among the events to be held for the first time as part of SPIEF were an evening of professional boxing, the Yawara Challenge team judo tournament, and the Rakhlin Cup Russian national judo competition. Elsewhere, 15,000 people turned out for the start of the St. Petersburg edition of ZaBeg.RF – a half-marathon event held in 84 towns and cities across Russia simultaneously. The initiative was organized in cooperation with the League of Heroes. Many events offered a particularly exciting spectacle, such as a historic yacht parade at the Sails of Kronstadt Festival and the Roscongress Cup Gala ice-hockey match. An equestrian show jumping tournament opened a series of children’s competitions held as part of the Roscongress JUMP Cup. And SPIEF participants competed in basketball and football gala matches, as well as golf, chess, tennis, squash, and skeet shooting.
Partners of the sporting programme included Liga Stavok, Telesport Media, and Forward.
SPIEF INVESTMENT & BUSINESS EXPO
The SPIEF Investment & Business Expo was another feature of this year’s Forum. In total, 48 organizations and Russian regions took part as exhibitors, including Almaz-Antey, the National Transport Association, the Russian National Commercial Bank, Sber Tram, the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation, RANEPA, the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, Moscow City Government, VEB RF, VTell, VSK, the office of the Prosecutor General, Montis Mountain Resort by Splendid, RC Investment, the Association of Innovative Regions of Russia, the Siberian Federal District, Altai Territory, Vladimir Region, Irkutsk Region, Kaluga Region, Kemerovo Region, Krasnoyarsk Territory, Leningrad Region, Lipetsk Region, Moscow Region, Murmansk Region, Nizhny Novgorod Region, Novgorod Region, Novosibirsk Region, Omsk Region, Penza Region, Perm Territory, the Altai Republic, the Republic of Bashkortostan, the Republic of Crimea, the Republic of Mordovia, the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), the Republic of Tatarstan, the Republic of Tyva, the Republic of Khakassia, Samara Region, Tver Region, Tomsk Region, Tula Region, Tyumen Region, Ulyanovsk Region, and Yaroslavl Region.
The exhibitors showcased their investment potential, current projects, latest technologies, products, and solutions.
The Moscow stand demonstrated an anti-COVID innovation with its interactive screens. Using a QR code, guests were able to control the screens via their phones, meaning they did not have to touch any other surfaces.
Meanwhile, the Krasnodar Territory stand hosted a panel session entitled “Film Clusters and Film Production: A Source of Growth. Tactics and Strategic Changes”. In 2020, more than 20 films were shot on location in the region, and a further 16 are currently being shot this year.
One and a half thousand souvenir coins were produced at the Novgorod Region stand for visitors, who also sent 500 postcards containing illustrations by artists from Novgorod.
The Kaluga Region stand proved to be the most popular among international guests, with it being visited by the German, French, Belgian, Finnish, US, Dutch, and Austrian delegations. The guests represented a large number of world-renowned companies, including Volkswagen, Nestlé, L’Oréal, La Lorraine, Kronospan, and others. Several investment agreements were signed worth a total of more than USD 40 billion, and more than 200 talks and meetings were held between investors, business representatives, and political leaders.
EXPERT AND ANALYTICAL SUPPORT AT THE FORUM
The Roscongress Foundation’s Information and Analytical System continued to expand its Summary service, which provides analytical summaries of discussions. These include overviews of conclusions, problems, and solutions covered at the event. More than 100 analytical summaries were published following SPIEF 2021.
A report detailing the outcomes of SPIEF 2021 will also be prepared, and will be made available in electronic form on the official event website (forumspb.com) and on the Roscongress Foundation’s Information and Analytical System (roscongress.org).
A collection of quotes by key speakers at SPIEF 2021 have been collated, covering international cooperation, economic trends, monetary policy, journalism and freedom of speech, green finance, decarbonization, transport, education, and more. A series of infographics have also been created, detailing key Forum facts and figures both by day, and overall.
The expert and analytical support provided at the Forum was made possible through the involvement of more than 70 experts from a range of institutions. These included St. Petersburg State University of Economics, the Higher School of Economics National Research University, Moscow State University, the Far Eastern Federal University, the Northwest Institute of Management of RANEPA, the Regional Economic Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Leontief Centre, and others. Their work led to a set of conclusions being drawn up on matters discussed at key Forum events. In total, more than 860 figures from 138 Russian and international higher education organizations took part in the Forum.
In the run-up to the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, experts at the ROSCONGRESS.ORG Information and Analytical System put together a digest of analytical resources covering the most important comprehensive analyses of topics on the Forum agenda.
The Roscongress Foundation also worked together with the Russian Public Opinion Research Centre to hold a survey of SPIEF 2021 participants, with the aim of assessing perceptions and expectations of the event.
An overwhelming majority of respondents (89%) considered the Forum to be a high-profile event, while 81% expressed their approval regarding the range of features and subjects covered at the Forum. The most commonly expressed expectations concerned forging business ties and having opportunities to speak with others. Forty-three per cent of respondents said their aim was to establish relations with specific Forum participants, while almost a third (31%) expressed a desire to speak to Forum participants about the current situation in Russia and across the globe. Ninety-one per cent of respondents said that face-to-face meetings were essential in order to build business ties.
Video recordings of key discussions at SPIEF 2021 can be viewed on the event’s official website: forumspb.com