MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian state development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) is set to offer financial support for domestic companies to develop projects using the GLONASS navigation system in Russia and abroad pending government approval, Izvestia reports.
VEB’s sister fund –“VEB Innovations” will set up the “GLONASS Fund” within the fourth quarter of this year; funds will be made available by next February-March. The fund will include 5 billion rubles (about $122 million) from VEB itself, together with 3 billion rubles ($73.1 million) from private investors, whom the fund hopes to attract by the end of 2016.
A high-ranking VEB official told Izvestia that the basic parameters for the project have already been outlined, and that it has already received government endorsement. The project is set to expand the share of the global navigation market held by GLONASS, with a two-pronged approach focused on the acquisition of advanced technology and attracting new customers.
The fund’s main purpose is to support the development of new technology in the field of navigation, including support for small companies with new, innovative ideas in the field. Its goals will include the creation of an investment model that will ensure that the most promising and viable projects come to life, from conception to the production stage.
Additionally, the fund outlines European, North American and Asian technology companies whose assistance will be sought in developing new projects. Izvestia listed eight European companies as particularly important prospects for technology acquisition, including Norway’s Q-free, Switzerland’s Saphyrion, Slovakia’s Sygic, the Netherlands’ AND, France’s Benomad, and the Germany companies Peiker, Init and IVU. Each company is involved in various aspects of navigation hardware, software, GIS and mapping software, telematics and dispatching. The GLONASS Fund concept notes that by using these technologies for the development of new domestic products and services, GLONASS can achieve technical superiority in all the major segments of the global navigation and information market.
As for customers, the fund’s support will include a network of contacts with Russian trade representatives abroad, using local points of presence via commercial agents to promote the country’s products in markets including India, Latin America and the Middle East.
The GLONASS network, which was formally put into operation in 1993, is Russia's answer to the US-based GPS (Global Positioning System). Originally set to be made operational in the early 1990s, the system laid partially dormant until Russian President Vladimir Putin made it a state priority to restore the system to full operability. Since 2007, the system has been made completely open for civilian use.