Cisco, Nokia join Russian 'Silicon Valley'

Cisco and Nokia are talking to Russian authorities about a plan to build a technology hub near Moscow that will rival California's Silicon Valley, reports Russian newswire RIA Novosti.

Presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters that the US networking giant had agreed to build a manufacturing facility in the town of Skolkovo. A spokeswoman for Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia said the company was "in the final stages" of talks to build a research centre in the 'Silicon Steppe' town.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced in February his plan to build the "innovation city" from scratch in Skolkovo . Around 4.6 billion roubles ($158 million) has been allocated this year to begin construction.

Medvedev said the Skolkovo centre would focus on five sectors: energy, information technology, communications, biomedical research and nuclear research, in a bid to break away from Russia's "humiliating" dependence on fossil fuel revenues.

The inducements on offer are substantial. Back in April, the Moscow-appointed billionaire boss of the project, Viktor Vekselberg, told Russia 24 TV that he would be seeking "tax breaks for a period of five to seven years."

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin confirmed in a government meeting today that tax breaks would be offered to attract investors, along with a ten-year tax holiday for residents of the Skolkovo complex.