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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Science Meets Western Marketing

MTLeonard has established links between foreign investors and Russian scientists.
ST. PETERSBURG -- As you cross a gray courtyard just off Ulitsa Marata, a fin-de-siecle apartment building becomes visible. In typical St. Petersburg fashion, it is easy to work out which three buttons on the lock are the ones you need to press to get in. A rundown elevator takes you to the top-floor apartment of American Paul Leonard.

Leonard, one of the most colorful and unconventional expats in town, opens the door, and his fluffy white purebred Siberian cat Carlito runs to inspect you. Right at the entrance, a curious row of five pairs of cowboy boots, ranging from light-brown to shining black, leaves no doubt that Leonard was raised in Texas. "My home is wherever I decide to hang my hat," he says light-heartedly. And this hat has not moved from St. Petersburg for the past nine years.

Leonard is an independent project developer working in Russia; his job is to combine Russian scientific innovation with Western financing and marketing. He began his professional activities here after studying Russian for a year at St. Petersburg State University. He says that the timing was right for small-businessmen "to find an opportunity to facilitate the creation of new technologies that would be both profitable and beneficial."

His many projects deal with different technologies in spheres as diverse as medicine and energy. Douglas Boyce, general director of the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory and a close personal friend of Leonard's over the past 15 years, says: "Paul is a unique figure in the Russian scientific community. As an outsider, it has taken him over a decade to gain the trust of the Russian scientific clique, partaking in both their problems and breakthroughs. It has required tremendous patience, but he has been rewarded with inside information on some little-known but startling achievements of Russian science."

According to Leonard, Western and Russian approaches to scientific research and development differ radically. "Russian research and development has historically tended to be public and consequently subject to public and governmental interests, while Western research and development is mostly private and therefore strongly relies on such factors as profit and market potential," Leonard says.

Russian innovation in the hard sciences can partly be attributed to the lack of reliance of research and development on market factors and dollar profitability. As Russia has begun collaborating more with the West, Leonard has been instrumental in establishing several links between foreign investors and Russian scientists.

In particular, his involvement with two groups of private American investors, Kansas City-based GTAC Inc. International and Washington Synex Technologies Inc. has proven fruitful. Synex has invested in the development of an adaptive timing system for internal-combustion engines and various other energy projects. This invention, which is both inexpensive to manufacture and easy to install, could prove to be a technological breakthrough allowing developed countries to lower gas emissions and comply with the Kyoto protocol.

Last November, GTAC's CEO, Robert Hudspeth, came to St. Petersburg and signed a contract with a group of Russian scientists who were represented by Tatyana Zimina, head scientist of the project. This contract will lead to a new stage of research and development locally in new technologies for analytical instrumentation, and the possible creation of jobs for approximately 50 Russian scientists.

Leonard's favorite project is the promotion and distribution of the medical product Deltaran. This non-toxic substance is based on a fundamental discovery in cellular biology, which according to Leonard "identifies the concrete link between stress and disease." Leonard explains that stress of any kind, be it environmental, infectious or emotional, is nothing more than an outside stimulus causing increased energy production from a cell's mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell. Deltaran has been recommended for use in all 73 Russian regional clinics.

Leonard says, "Russia is a country full of MacGyvers with a world-class education in the hard sciences," referring to a do-it-all character from U.S. television. Many of these Russian scientists and inventors regularly gather for animated discussions at Leonard's kitchen table, among them Dr. Boris Voitenkov, general director of medical research and development at Komkon Corp; Vadim Ivanov, academic secretary of the Russian Academy of Sciences; and Inessa Mikhalova, a renowned researcher of peptides and proteins.

In Leonard's apartment, one even drinks vodka from 50-milliliter lab beakers. What's more, Leonard is an acclaimed chili cook and winner of Senor Pepe's annual Mexican cooking competition. And he is happy to cook up a bowl of his famous hot chili for all his guests.