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Russia Business Report investigates Siberia’s ‘Silicon Forest’

By Victoria Thomas

London 28 July - BBC World News' latest edition of the monthly business programme, Russia Business Report, comes from Novosibirsk, the capital of Siberia.

Presented by Fiona Foster, the programme meets IT entrepreneurs, high-tech investors and flamenco dancers in Russia's third-largest city - a young and dynamic place whose origins date back to 1893 when workers set up camp here to build a bridge over the Ob river for the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The episode will air on Saturday 31July and Sunday 1 August*.

Features from the July episode include:


High tech in the “Silicon Forest”
Novosibirsk has become a cluster for IT companies, earning it the nickname “Silicon Forest”. Building on its long tradition as a centre for science and research, the Siberian capital has been quite successful at nurturing home-grown IT talent, as well as attracting foreign investors. The ambition is that a new “Technopark” will help Novosibirsk branch out into other high tech sectors too. Fiona Foster reports.

Searching for new fuel sources – 1,500 metres under the sea

Russia may have some of the largest oil and gas reserves in the world, but it's always searching for new deposits – even if that means going under water. In East Siberia, mini submarines are searching for gas hydrates - a potential alternative fuel source - on the bed of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake. The BBC's Katia Moskvitch watches them take a dive.

Taking off? How Russia's aircraft industry is trying to regain altitude

Russia's aircraft industry has been through turbulent times. Now the industry is undergoing major restructuring in an attempt to become more competitive. Most of Russia's manufacturing plants have been placed under the umbrella of a state-controlled holding company which oversees the development of new civil and military aircraft. Theo Leggett catches up with Alexey Fedorov, the man in charge of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation.

The pensions timebomb
A timebomb is ticking in Russia's pension system. Finance minister Alexei Kudrin recently caused a stir when he said that the pension age would have to go up from currently 60 years for men and 55 years for women to maintain pensions at “respectable” levels. Already the government is pumping billions of dollars into the system. But reforming it will be a struggle: Russia's population is shrinking, the introduction of private pensions insurance has failed to take off, and raising the pension age will be resisted by many in a country where male life expectancy is still only 61 years. Kristina Block reports.

Siberia's Musical Resources
Now Novosibirsk is well known as a centre for business and finance but not necessarily as a place to have fun. As Fiona Foster discovered, that's a bit unfair: There's something for everyone, from classical music to jazz and even flamenco - you just need to know where to look!

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