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Russian Venture Company sets up shop in Back Bay, seeking to create new entrepreneurial ties

Posted by Scott Kirsner  January 25, 2012 10:45 AM

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The launch party doesn't take place until early February, but the Russian Venture Company has had an office open in Boston for several months. And beyond just strengthening ties between the start-up and venture capital communities in the U.S. and Russia, the Back Bay outpost of the Russian government's investing arm could soon start putting money into Boston-area companies.

The three-person office is headed by Axel Tillmann, who'll also oversee a new Silicon Valley office of the Russian Venture Company. Here's what Tillmann said when I asked him via e-mail about his goals for RVC's first year in Boston:

RVC-USA plans to establish the necessary contacts in the U.S. business, academic, and political community to strengthen the economic relationship between the U.S. and Russia. Moving forward, RVC-USA aims to become a primary resource for U.S. companies that are interested in exploring opportunities in Russia. Our goal is two-fold. We?re trying to help U.S. start-ups and venture capital firms enter the Russian market, and at the same time showcase the value that Russian engineers can deliver to U.S. entrepreneurs.

RVC hasn't yet made any investments in local companies, but Rusnano, a nanotechnology-focused investment fund created by the Russian government, has. Last October, Rusnano put $50 million into two Massachusetts biotech companies, BIND and Selecta BioSciences. RVC, however, has been a sponsor of the MassChallenge start-up competition.

Tillmann says that RVC "fully intends to" make investments in Boston companies that will do business or establish a presence in Russia. RVC "was established in late 2011 and intends to start making direct investments later this year when our own fund is established," he says.

The official launch party for the Boston office happens next month at the Four Seasons.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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