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Russia's tech drive not yet in fast lane

Thursday, July 07, 2016 - 01:45

A Russian start-up has high hopes for its new holographic navigation system. But, as Sonia Legg reports, its struggles show Russia's aim to boost its tech sector and end its reliance on commodities is easier said than done.

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It's showing the way in the technology sector. Way Ray's holographic navigational display guides motorists without them needing to take their eyes off the road. It was invented by the Russian start-up's founder after he nearly rear-ended another car while using a traditional GPS system. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WAY RAY FOUNDER, VITALY PONOMAREV, SAYING: "The idea was to create the kind of digital infrastructure to make digital objects floating in the air, and to be visible through virtual augmented reality wearable or non-wearable devices." Way Ray's just what Russia needs right now as it tries to move the economy away from commodities. But Ponomarev says he didn't ask for any of the government assistance on offer because of the bureaucracy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) WAY RAY FOUNDER, VITALY PONOMAREV, SAYING: "The VC (venture capital) ecosystem here is mostly oriented on investments into IT companies and applications, some kind of copycats from the western startups, but not into hardware because the hardware demands much more investment and you have to wait for a much longer time before you get first results." Way Ray has already invested $10.6 million in development and signed deals for $15 million more. Backers include Russian conglomerate Sistema and some Chinese and U.S. investors. It plans to launch sales there later this year, followed by China and Europe. But while this firm's clearly in the fast lane - Russia's software exports are on the hard shoulder Last year they were worth $7 billion - that's double what they were five years earlier. But no where near the $216 billion made from energy exports.

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Russia's tech drive not yet in fast lane

Thursday, July 07, 2016 - 01:45