Commercialization of Russian Technology in Cooperation with American Companies

The Soviet Union placed a high priority on science and technology and built a huge assembly of research institutes, educational programs, design bureaus, and production enterprises embodying some measure of science and/or technology. This assembly concentrated overwhelmingly on military applications. Approximately three-quarters of this complex was located in Russia, but essential elements of many programs were located in other republics.

Starting in the Gorbachev regime there was a recognition that the economy was deteriorating and that it was necessary to reduce military expenditures and increase the civilian economy. A major element of this has been the attempt to direct a much greater effort toward the development of commercial products and services based upon technologies and skills developed in the military-industrial complex (MIC). This commercialization of Soviet and Russian military technology has been attempted by the Russians both independently, through conversion programs, and in cooperation with foreign partners. The conversion programs have had very limited success. The success of attempts at cooperative commercialization by U.S. companies and Russian enterprises have also been modest, but they illustrate workable models that could be utilized by other cooperative ventures. These cooperative commercialization ventures are the primary subject of this report.

This research is based primarily on the study of several cases of cooperative attempts by U.S. companies and Russian enterprises to commercialize Russian technology. Additional information has been gathered through participation in workshops and conferences including sessions or presentations on technology commercialization. There is no attempt to determine the total amount of such activity, but foreign investment of all types in Russia has been very small. These cases may not be representative of what is going on at many defense enterprises, especially those that do not have foreign partners. They do, however, show models of what can be achieved, as well as some of the problems encountered in technology commercialization.