The Moscow Agency of Innovations has launched a series of networking events titled Startup Cafe, designed to foster informal interaction among experts, entrepreneurs, investors, and government representatives.

The goal is to source solutions that can transform the city’s traditional development models in specific domains and advance technological leadership in them. Based on an analysis of Russian venture investments in 2018, the topics for future Startup Cafe meetings include FinTech, HealthTech, EdTech, MobilePropTech, Transport & Logistics, FoodTech, and Smart City.

The series premiered this summer at Moscow’s Digital Business Space (DBS), a unique business and technology hub that facilitates projects much needed by Moscow. It offers a comfortable workspace to startups, educational support, and helps test new projects.

Three Startup Cafe meetings have been held at the DBS to date. One of the major obstacles to successful collaboration between the city and business communities, according to meeting participants, is red-tape that entrepreneurs have to endure when working with any state organizations. Another problem comes from the time it takes to review proposals for applications such as government tenders or grants.

The participants have shown interest in services that could accelerate contact with the city’s state customers. As potential support options, the participants suggested joint pilot projects with the city and easier access to the state procurement system. In addition, large Russian banks have shown a growing interest in establishing partnerships with tech startups.