ImpactAim startup accelerator launches in Armenia


PanARMENIAN.Net - A startup accelerator supporting social enterprises called ImpactAim has launched in Armenia on Monday, December 11, with prime minister Karen Karapetyan attending the event and delivering remarks.
ImpactAim is part of the National Innovative Center, created as a result of cooperation between the government and the United Nations Development Program.
According to Karapetyan, the accelerator aims to provide maximum support to startups and enterprises.
"ImpactAim will help understand the amount of investments needed, pave the way for investments and accelerate the productivity of companies so that they can have an effective participation in the implementation of the UN Development Goals," the prime minister said.
"Accelerators are new to Armenia, and we are extremely interested in integrated them into our reality."

Fitch affirms Yerevan at ‘B+’


Fitch Ratings has affirmed Yerevan’s Long-Term Foreign- and Local-Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at B+ with stable outlooks.
The rating for the city’s Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR has been affirmed at ‘B’.
According to Fitch Ratings, Yerevan’s ratings are constrained by those of Armenia (B+/Stable), in particular “the country’s weak institutional framework for local and regional governments”. The ratings also factor in the city’s capital status, satisfactory budgetary performance, supported by steady transfers from the central government, and zero debt.
Fitch expects the city to continue posting satisfactory fiscal performance with a lower single-digit operating margin in 2017-2019 (2016: 1.6%).
“The city’s operating margin decrease is due to negative shocks resulting from the protracted slowdown of Armenia’s economy in 2014-2015. We project a likely margin consolidation at this level. We also expect Yerevan to run close to balanced budget in 2017-2019 in line with historical result (2012-2016: average deficit 0.15%),” the agency informed.
According to Fitch’s base case scenario, the city will continue receiving financial support from the central government in line with its historical track record, as current transfers averaged 74% of the city’s operating revenue in 2012-2016.
The city’s interim capex by end-3Q17 was at 7% of total expenditure. Fitch expects Yerevan to continue low capex trend (about 7%-9% of total spending), to be funded by asset sales and capital transfers from the central government.
The agency noted that Yerevan has maintained its debt-free status since forming a community in 2008, as “statutory provisions of the national legal framework guiding debt or guarantees issuance restrict the city from incurring significant debt”.
“Yerevan is likely to benefit from economic recovery in Armenia. Fitch expects full-year growth of the national economy at about 3.4% yoy in 2017 and 3.6% in 2018. As the country’s capital and most populated city, Yerevan is Armenia’s largest market with a developed services sector. At the same time, Yerevan’s wealth metrics remain relatively modest in the international context as we estimate Armenia’s 2016 GDP per capita at USD3,490,” emphasized Fitch Ratings.

Karen Karapetyan: “We will be consistent in bringing high technologies, innovations to our country’s distant regions”


Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan attended the opening of the Regional Growth through High Technologies Conference in Gyumri. Addressing the forum, the Prime Minister noted that the motto of the conference reflects the right goal. The objective is to develop the high tech industry as one of Armenia’s economic priorities, which has great potential for attracting investments and promoting exports. At the same time, regional and community development is central in Armenia’s economic development vision.
“Combining the above two goals can provide the desired result. The Gyumri Technology Center is a good example of how to establish and develop a structure that can help develop technical and business skills, promote innovative research and development in the field of high technologies, commercialize the product of mind and talent, and transform it into successful business,” the Head of Government said, adding that as a result of nearly three years of extensive activity, the Technology Center has already created about 200 jobs. The Center has about 100 beneficiary companies, with over 500 professionals trained annually. There are 25 local and foreign organizations operational in the Center, many of which are exporting their solutions.
The Prime Minister believes it benefits the citizen, the city and the province since this process positively affects the development of our country’s economy. Karen Karapetyan stressed that the development of high technologies is directly related to the strategy enshrined in the Digital Agenda, which was formulated and is being implemented by the Digital Armenia Fund and the Center for Strategic Initiatives.
“The development and advancement of our country and our economy would have been impossible without the Digital Agenda. It will give an opportunity to ensure the competitiveness of our country, increase efficiency and the level of transparency in public administration, improve the business environment. Our technological centers can play a great role in developing and implementing the Digital Agenda. The State is extremely interested, welcomes and encourages our technology centers’ participation in this process,” Karen Karapetyan emphasized. The Premier underscored that we can witness the creation and dissemination of modern knowledge-based centers in our country.
The Prime Minister said it is gratifying to see such centers being established outside Yerevan. “The Gyumri Technology Center, the network of Tumo centers and the Smart Center operational in Lori are all success stories that make us believe in our ability to bring high technologies and innovation to our country’s distant regions. They are now accessible to our citizens regardless of how far they live from the capital. We will pursue this process with greater momentum, and stand ready to support any reasonable initiative," the Head of Government said. Addressing the youth in attendance of the conference, Karen Karapetyan said they are the greatest potential of our country.
“We have a good opportunity to get everyone involved in this process of transformations that we have initiated both in urban and rural areas. We speak a lot about the Digital Agenda as it is extremely urgent - just a matter of the day. After describing and digitalizing our management subjects we can formulate our shortcomings, advantages and the motive powers,” the Prime Minister emphasized, wishing the forum successful proceedings.
The Conference is organized by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation and the Gyumri Technology Center in collaboration with the Government of Armenia, Shirak Marz administration, Gyumri Town Hall, Armenian Relief Fund, the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The two-day conference is attended by 150 young people from all regions of Armenia who are interested in technological education, engineering, programming and innovations. The purpose of the conference is to promote large-scale decentralization of information and high technologies based on the successful experience of Shirak Marz, train specialists in the field of information and high technologies, develop and expand the labor market in the provinces, offer attractive conditions for international and local investments, develop opportunities for the formation of electronic society by fostering people’s interest in the use of modern technologies, as well as shaping a relevant culture and mindset on the way to implementing the ideas of digital Armenia and electronic society.

The Government of Armenia and the UN set up the world’s first National SDG Innovation Lab


Yerevan, 14 November 2017 – The Government of Armenia and the United Nations have set up the world’s first National SDG Innovation Lab to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Armenia. For the first time, the state, in cooperation with the United Nations, is creating an innovation platform to support the UN SDGs implementation at country level. To do so, the Lab will draw upon innovative methodologies and expertise available from across the world, including the UN’s own innovation facilities and tools.
Today, Karen Karapetyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Bradley Busetto, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, Ministers, Ambassadors, representatives of government agencies as well as international organizations, diplomatic corps and media attended the official inauguration ceremony of the National SDG Innovation Lab.
Welcoming the initiative, the Prime Minister said: “The Lab is a joint initiative of the Government of Armenia and the UN and will operate within the domain of CSI. This is a very conscious choice as the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is very important for Armenia, as part of essential reforms being implemented in our country.
This is the first time you will have seen such a mechanism anywhere in the world,” said Bradley Busetto, UN Resident Coordinator, UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia. “We’re keen to support the Prime Minister’s vision for a smarter, leaner system for tackling development issues and are excited to collaborate with our partners in Armenia and across the world in that regard”. The Lab has already partnered with organizations such as the Stanford Change LabsUN Global Pulse, the Behavioral Insights Team and AGBU, and many new partnerships are now in the making.
The 17 SDGs are being comprehensively tied to the National Reforms Agenda of the Republic of Armenia, including the Armenia National Development Strategy 2030 currently being developed. The goals are extremely ambitious, the challenges are complex and intertwined, and therefore necessitate new approaches, new methodologies and possibly new types of institutions to provide ‘out of the box’ solutions that bring about transformative impact. This is the role of the National SDG Innovation Lab.
Supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and hosted in the Center for Strategic Initiatives, the Lab will serve as space for experimentation, collaboration, analytics and world-class human resource development to unlock Armenia’s development potential and accelerate the implementation of the Agenda 2030.
Initiated by the Government of Armenia, the Center for Strategic Initiatives  works to advance the reform agenda in Armenia through facilitation of dialogue between policy-makers, private and public stakeholders and international partners.
UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations UNDP in Armenia was established in March 1993, and supports the Government in meeting its development priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Business Innovation Forum 2017 to focus on creation of digital economy


The 5th Business Innovation Forum this year will gather Armenian and foreign specialists over digitization of Armenia’s economy, innovation strategy approaches, development of scientific-research infrastructure.
The event will be held in Dilijan on November 10-11 under the high patronage of the Armenian Prime Minister.
Karen Vardanayan – executive director of the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE), told Armenpress that the main goal of the Forum is to create a platform of professional discussions on strategic issues.
“The Union has set a task before it to restore Armenia’s image as a country of high technologies, thus, a platform is needed where the ways of achieving this are being discussed. High technological country without an agreed policy in different areas and clear innovative approach is impossible”, the UITE executive director said.
Foreign specialists are also invited to attend the event, the international experience is examined and discussed. This year the Forum will be attended by specialists from Germany, Belgium and Romania. We hope it will become an Armenian Davos. If Davos mostly discusses economic, financial topics, this Forum will become a platform for those interested in innovation, as well as will receive an international and more thorough nature”, he said.
As for the topics to be discussed at the Forum, Vardanyan said the participants will first of all discuss issues relating to creating a local industry necessary for the digitization of the economy, developing scientific-research infrastructure, innovative strategy approaches, digital security. They will also touch upon issues on improving the intellectual property system since it, according to Vardanyan, doesn’t fully meet the requirements.
“The innovate strategy must show the ways how to create a competitive and innovative brain since its growing is a cultural issue. But no matter how much we discuss other elements and infrastructures, the number one issue today is the education”, he said, adding that in order to capture the first place, it is necessary to have a serious scientific-research potential, and this must be ensured by universities.
The Forum is organised in partnership with “Support to SME development in Armenia” (SMEDA) is co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ’s Private Sector Development in South Caucasus Programme.


Armenia goes down by 9 ranks in Doing Business 2018


Armenia went down by 9 ranks in World Bank Group’s annual Doing Business report, ranking at 47 instead of last year’s 38.
The WB office in Armenia noted that the main reasons behind this change with respect to the previously published ranking are the significant improvements in other economies’ business regulatory environments, methodology refinements and data revisions.
“On the distance to frontier metric - which assesses a country’s absolute level of regulatory performance on a scale from 0 to 100 where 0 represents the lowest performance and 100 represents the frontier - Armenia’s score went from 71.92 in Doing Business 2017 to 72.51 in Doing Business 2018,” said Sylvie Bossoutrot, WB Country Manager for Armenia. “This means that over the course of last year Armenia improved its business regulations as captured by the Doing Business indicators in absolute terms. The country is indeed continuing to narrow the gap with the global regulatory frontier which is a positive development.”
More specifically, Doing Business finds that Armenia implemented substantive changes in the local regulatory framework in the following areas in 2016/17:
- Armenia made getting electricity easier by imposing new deadlines for connection procedures and introducing anew geographic information system at the utility;
-  Armenia made registering property easier by improving the land administration system’s dispute resolution mechanisms.
The leaders of this year’s Doing Business are New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark.
Other countries of the region have the following ranking: Georgia is in the 9th place, Azerbaijan in the 57th, Turkey in the 60th, and Iran in the 124th.
Russia ranks at 35 in the report, rising from last year’s 40.

Armenian finance minister presents economic priorities for 2018


The main capital expenditures directed for the economic bloc under the 2018 state budget will be made at three directions – road constructiontransport, water economy and energy, finance minister Vardan Aramyan said during the discussion of the 2018 state budget draft at the joint session of the parliamentary standing committees, Armenpress reports.
“In fact, if we aim to reach high economic growth, the infrastructures should provide that opportunity. For instance, if we take no actions in terms of our irrigation systems and they remain in such poor condition, the water losses will be high, no matter how the government wants to subsidize the agriculture with other measures, its result will not increase. In order for the outcome to be maximum, investment for infrastructures is needed”, the minister said.
He said regardless of the fact that the government wants for Gyumri to become a tourism center, only words or renovation of the Rustaveli street are not enough. “The reconstruction of the Rustaveli street is the most important project, however, in order to maximize the outcome, there must be the road linking Yerevan with Gyumri, and the movement of people must increase. The same relates to other communities where the roads of vital importance should be in good condition. Thus, we need to make an investment for infrastructures”, he said.
As for the importance and priority of the energy field, the finance minister said there is no country which has energy problems and that country’s government announces that it targets competitiveness and economic potential in the medium and long-term.

FAST creates Angels Network to support Armenian startups


The Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) announced creation of an Angels Network.
The official announcement took place on October 19, at the gala dinner dedicated to the “Machine Learning for Discovery Sciences” workshop, which was organized by FAST and the US National Science Foundation (US NSF).
Angels Network members Ruben Harutyunyan and Igor Khalatian informed that the initiative unites 15 Armenian entrepreneurs, who will provide financial and consulting assistance to Armenian startups.
FAST NextGen Council was also presented during the gala dinner. The council is comprised of 15 young Armenian scientists and engineers working in Armenia and abroad.
The gala was rich with events, as FAST signed three memorandums of understanding with:
- Ministry of Education and Science of Armenia (cooperation in educational programs and joint research);
- University of South California (cooperation in joint research, exchange of scientific works and joint events);
- Hamburg University of Technology (cooperation data science, robotics, biotechnologies and education).

“Machine Learning for  Discovery Sciences” workshop kickes off in Yerevan


The “Machine Learning for Discovery Sciences” workshop kicked off today in Yerevan. It is organized by the US National Science Foundation (US NSF) and Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST).
Prime Minister of Armenia Karen Karapetyan welcomed the participants and noted that science and economy are strongly intertwined phenomena that should push each other forward.
“In the 21st century, globalization of processes and use of communication technologies are the mandatory conditions of progress. I believe that FAST and partners can take upon the role of integrator, maintaining connection between the best scientific and technological centers of the world,” said Armenia’s Prime Minister.
According to him, the world is living the fourth industrial revolution.
“Life-changing technologies, artificial intelligence, cloud solutions and the newest methods of obtaining renewable energy play a crucial part in global progress. I’m certain success will be on the side of those countries that adapt quickly to the new reality and become creators of innovation,” said the head of Armenian government.
Karen Karapetyan believes that Armenia has a good chance at enhancing its development.
“It’s important to build the necessary ecosystem and innovation campuses nationwide to ensure technological and knowledge-based advance. The state is ready to support that process with its entire potential,” said the Prime Minister.
“We want to have a competitive, progressive nation to establish a place for Armenia at a global level. We are united by the belief that it’s a possibility and a very concrete job that we should do together consistently,” he added.
FAST co-founder Noubar Afeyan noted that their main objectives include not only establishing ties and cooperation, but also forming a mentality that Armenia should rely on its uniqueness.
“We need to step out of that idea of being sensible and start doing thing that might not be considered such, because what seems unreasonable today can actually become smart tomorrow. We need to take big leaps in science instead of moving by a strict plan,” said Afeyan.
The workshop is a major event in the region in terms of geographical scale and the high profile of participants. It gathered more than two hundred researchers in Data Science and related disciplines.

The press conference of the Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Suren Karayan took place


On October 18, the press conference of the Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Suren Karayan dedicated to one year activity took place at the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of the Republic of Armenia.
Suren Karayan represented to the journalists the activity implemented during one year activity.

The innovation strategy is being developed


With the support of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), within the framework of the project “Assistance to SME Development in Armenia” implemented under the co-financing of the European Union, the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of RA initiated mapping of the innovation ecosystem and the development of innovation system strategy.
On October 13, the Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Suren Karayan received international experts of the project Daniel Kosnitani and Michael Guf.
The Minister stressed the importance of the modern innovation strategy and the measures developed on its basis in terms of predicting the competitiveness of the Armenian economy and the ways to achieve it.
The goals and objectives of the project implementation, the results of discussions with representatives of public and private sectors, scientific and technological community and international donor organizations have been briefly represented during the meeting of Suren Karayan and Emil Tarasyan with international experts of GIZ project Daniel Kosnitani and Michael Guf.
The Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Suren Karayan wished success to the project.

Suren Karayan signed a Memorandum of cooperation in science and technology sectors


On October 9, within the framework of the official visit of the Prime Minister of RA Karen Karapetyan to Iran, several agreements have been signed.
A memorandum of cooperation between the Republic of Armenia and the Islamic Republic of Iran has been signed by the Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Suren Karayan and Vice-President of Science and Technology of Iran Sorena Sattari with the participation of the Prime Minister of RA Karen Karapetyan and First Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Es’haq Jahangiri.
It is stated in the Memorandum that the Vice-Presidency of Science and Technology of Iran and the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of RA, within the framework of their competence, will promote bilateral cooperation in the field of science and technology and exchange of experience in areas of mutual interest in different areas of nanotechnology.
The parties will cooperate to facilitate technology sharing between universities and organizations of both countries.
It is intended to support the education of nanotechnology at the university and high school levels, including training and infrastructure necessary for educational and research laboratories. The parties will also collaborate in the field of joint trainings, conferences, seminars and exchange of scientists in the sector of nanotechnology.
According to the Memorandum, the parties will establish a joint working commission, which will develop annual programs of cooperation. Meetings of the working committee will be regular and will be followed by future actions, exchange of experience and progress registered in the Memorandum implementation process.

Pre-acceleration programme “Armenia Startup Academy” will soon launch


On October 3, press conference on a cutting-edge pre-acceleration programme of the “Armenia Startup Academy” took place at Novosti-Armenia press center.
The speakers of the press conference were the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Emil Tarasyan, Country Director of Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH for Armenia Anne Kempa, the Head of Cooperation Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia Hoa-Binh Adjemian, International Aid/Cooperation Officer of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia Stanislav Toshkov, “Supoport to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) Project (EU/GIZ) Team Leader Eva Naeher, Expert of the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) Project Peer Priewich, the Co-Founder of Catalyst Foundation, Partner of SmartGateVC Hambardzum Kaghketsyan and Co-Founder of Catalyst Foundation, Partner of SmartGateVC Ashot Arzumanyan.
“Armenia Startup Academy” acceleration programme is launching today, which includes not only the IT acceleration program but also is a High-Tech Industry Start-up. The best methodology of world experience in acceleration programs has been selected. It will allow to reduce the number of failures in the startup market and increase the percentage of success that will have a significant impact on the use of startups in the economy. The startups will be given the opportunity to gain considerable skills in the area of investment, which will enable the investor to invest in a start-up that has not been previously used. I want to express gratitude to the EU Delegation in Armenia and GIZ which agreed to fund this pilot program. The Government of Armenia supports the implementation of the program and the idea of creating the Aacademy is in the agenda of the Government,” said the Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Emil Tarasyan.
“Armenia Startup Academy”, a cutting-edge pre-acceleration programme will be launched on October 16, 2017. The programme aims to build a game-changing entrepreneurship and startup education and evangelise the startup culture in Armenia. The programme is intended to boost Armenian tech companies and teams to sharpen their skills for creating products that customers love.
Armenia Startup Academy is a Catalyst Foundation project implemented in the framework of the Support to SME Development (SMEDA) Project, which is co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by GIZ’s Private Sector Development in South Caucasus Programme.
The Academy will be launched on October 16, 2017 following the selection and interviewing process of applicants. Up to 15 startups will be selected for the first cycle and trained for duration of 12 weeks. The academy offers a high quality programme incorporating innovative instruments, methods and topics as well as access to a pool of high-profile mentors to facilitate the business success of participating startups.
Apart from an advanced training curriculum the current state and basic needs of each team will be reviewed by the instructors and a fully tailored programme for them developed. Local and international mentors and guest-speakers will deliver talks and lectures as well as consult the teams during the programme keeping the utmost focus on the business development of the projects. Thereby, the teams have the opportunity to acquire hands-on experience in all knowledge areas that are crucial for the startups’ future growth, customer and product development.
Furthermore, the programme includes weekly review meetings, evaluations and regular demo-pitching sessions to analyze the progress and review plans. The programme is highly demanding and teams that demonstrated the most progress in the dynamic trainings and performed well on the demo-sessions will have access to a pool of potential investors and will be prepared to apply to global and regional acceleration programmes.

IT young specialists develop ‘Smart House’ housing security program


The Yerevan Telecommunication Research Institute developed ‘Smart House’ project through which it will be possible to ensure the safety of the house, control the lights and curtains. The representatives of the Institute present their innovation during the DigiTec 2017 Expo in Yerevan. Azat Smbatyan - one of the representatives of the Institute, told Armenpress that they have developed a housing security system which is more affordable and effective compared to the remaining systems in the market. “We propose a device which fixes and recognizes the face of the person before entering the house. If that person is not the owner of the house, the alarming system is working. In other words, in case of using our services, only the owners will freely enter the house since the device will recognize their faces”, he said, adding that their product is much more affordable than the remaining products in the market. “If other companies propose such devices for 5.000 USD, we offer our services at 500-1000 USD depending on the size of the house, how far the devices must be installed and how many devices will be required. In addition, our system is safer, and it is easy to control it”. The system can also be controlled via mobile phone by downloading the respective project.

Armenia chemists use new method to create coating that protects from overheating in space


YEREVAN. – With a new method, Armenian chemists have created a thermoregulation coating for spacecrafts; and the basis for this coating is willemite, which is a zinc silicate mineral.
Volodya Baghramyan, a researcher at the Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry of National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, told Armenian that having discovered their designs with such materials, NASA specialists had contacted the institute.
Willemite coating is in high demand, since it reflects about 95 percent of the solar rays. And the Institute of General and Inorganic Chemistry of Armenia has managed to significantly reduce its synthesis temperature, and therefore save energy when creating this coating.
The connecting elements for this coating were selected from the mountain minerals that are common in Armenia.
This project was carried out through the International Science and Technology Center.

Armenian government develops new strategy for innovation policy


The Armenian government began the development of a new strategy for innovative policy, which will clearly describe current issues and challenges, and the goals which the government must achieve.
The strategy will include an action plan, what resources are available and how they must be used in order to resist existing challenges.
Deputy minister of economic development and investments Emil Tarasyan told ARMENPRESS rapid developments are happening globally in terms of technology, which imply changes of solution methods for systems and problems, which is the reason for developing the new strategy.
Several forecasts of the Davos international forum were also considered, such as, that by 2025 people will wear clothing connected to the internet – with over one trillion devices connected to the internet. By 2025, the first robot pharmaceutical device will be created, according to forecasts.
“We must make our society be not only the user of these technologies, but also be part of its creation”, he said.
Tarasyan said the strategy will be ready by March-April, 2018.
Armenia is ranked 59th from 127 in the Global Innovation Index.

New Joint Laboratory To Be Established


On August 1, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the National Polytechnic University of Armenia and the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant on “Creating a Joint Laboratory for Technical and Criminal Expertise of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials”.
The joint laboratory for nuclear and radioactive materials will be created by the joint efforts of the Regional Center of Studies on Nuclear Safety of the National Polytechnic University of Armenia and the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant's External Radiation Control Laboratory, combining scientific and educational activities in the field of technical and criminological expertise of nuclear radioactive materials, aimed at the coordination, increasing the effectiveness and the level of the international recognition of the research in the mentioned spheres, implemented in Armenia.
The main types of activities to be carried out by the laboratory are the technical and criminological expertise of nuclear and radioactive materials, detection and neutralization of uncontrolled or unused radioactive sources, scientific and technical analysis of prospective development of nuclear energy in Armenia etc.
One of the main goals of the laboratory is the development and implementation of scientific, technical and scientific-educational programs in the field of technical and criminological expertise of nuclear radioactive materials, development and implementation of educational programs, preparation and implementation of scientific and scientific-educational grants projects, organization of conferences, youth schools and other scientific events.
The laboratory will operate in the city of Metsamor, Armavir, but the material and technical base of the laboratory will be available for scientific organizations and universities, including scientific organizations operating in the RA National Academy of Sciences, Yerevan State University, A. Alikhanyan National Research Laboratory (Yerevan Physics Institute) and Armenian Scientific-Research Institute for Nuclear Power Plant Operation.
The premises underlying the signature of the Memorandum was the meeting between Armenian and American nuclear experts on February 22-23, 2017, in the United States of America.

 Armenia ranked 79th in Global Competitiveness Index


This year Armenia is ranked 79th in the Global Competitiveness Index, EV Consulting CJSC Director Manuk Hergnyan told reporters on July 14, reports Armenpress.
“Armenia has been included in the Global Competitiveness Index in 2005: during that period our country was ranked 81st. 10 years later Armenia is ranked 79th. During this period the figure somehow declined and than rose. In other words, actually, within 10 years we appeared in the same place after fluctuations. Competitiveness is race, of course, other countries as well record progress. Armenia has improved its positions at some directions, however, at the same time, these improvements were not enough for us to have a positive progress in our position. In 2017 as well Armenia is ranked 79th”, Hergnyan said.
He said 110 indicators are considered for assessing the competitiveness index.
“Positive developments were recorded in improvement of institutions, market productivity, innovation and business. The main shortcomings are linked with some macroeconomic indicators – debt burden, education quality, as well as commercialization related issues”, he said.
EV Consulting has published the National Competitiveness Report of Armenia 2017 entitled ‘Our Role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

Armenia seeks to improve position in Global Competitiveness Index: Action plan approved


The Government approved the 2017- 2018 action plan on improving Armenia’s position in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), reports Armenpress. Minister of Economic Development and Investments Suren Karayan said Armenia is ranked 79 in the list of 138 countries with 4.1 points in the 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Index. Compared to last year it improved its position by 3 points. Among the list of the CIS countries (including Georgia) Armenia is ranked 6th. “The GCI assesses the overall level of competitiveness of the countries and ranks them in comparable dimensions including the macroeconomic and microeconomic basis of the country’s development, the institutional and regulatory environments”, the Minister said. He said in order to form an action plan for improving the country’s position in the Index, the weakest sides of the state were revealed based on the last report. Directions having negative dynamics have also been identified regardless of the position at the moment. Based on the mentioned steps, 78 indicators have been received in terms of which Armenia is either ranked lower from half of the assessed countries or has not recorded progress in terms of position compared to the previous year. These indicators are grouped in 10 directions (institutions, infrastructures, healthcare, high education and training, effectiveness of commodity market, labor market, development of financial market, technological preparedness, business improvement, innovations). “As for the weak sides revealed, respective measures and actions have been developed with the concerned agencies which aim at ensuring progress in the abovementioned directions. At the same time, already the ongoing and the systematic long-term reforms reflected in the Government’s action plan over macroeconomic stability, expansion of export markets, increase of effectiveness in the public administration system will contribute to improving Armenia’s position in the Index”, the Minister said. The action plan includes 36 measures which will be implemented during 2017-2018. Based on the implementation results of this action plan and the assessments of the new Global Competitiveness Report, a new action plan will be formed.

Light industry training center will be established in Armenia: Suren Karayan met the UNIDO representatives


On July 4, the Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Suren Karayan received the head of the working group of UNIDO “Improving competitiveness of export-oriented industries in Armenia through modernization and market access” Anita Travaini and international shoe-making and quality expert Giorgio Gadina to discuss the program implementation process and cooperation with the organization.
“We thank you for your support provided to our Armenian team. We see the Government’s willingness to develop this sector,” mentioned Anita Travaini adding that it’s obvious that the investments in light industry field are increasing. She noted that it is necessary to promote preparation of qualified specialists through joint efforts aimed at developing the field.
The participants of the meeting discussed the activities of establishing of a training center under the project “Improving competitiveness of export-oriented industries in Armenia through modernization and market access” which will be established based on public-private sector cooperation. The center will also provide promotion services for planning and export of shoe-making, as well as services for development of financial management skills.
The Minister informed the guests that the Government of Armenia currently discusses the opportunities to expand the state support tools for light industry sector and offered them to take part in the discussions.
Minister Suren Karayan discussed with the international experts the development prospects of separate branches of light industry in Armenia, particularly carpet weaving, textile, leather production, shoe manufacture.

Philip Morris Armenia innovation center to open in Engineering City


The Philip Morris innovation center, soon to open in Armenia, will be a novelty that’s one of a kind, while its model might find further application for foundation of scientific centers in other countries.
Manager of Corporate Affairs at Philip Morris Armenia Vahe Danielyan told about this fact to at the engineering forum-expo in Vanadzor Technology Center on June 24.
According to him, the center will be built in the Engineering City in Bagrevand, Jrvezh, which is to start operating fully this September.
“Currently, Philip Morris centers in Switzerland and Singapore conduct all researches for the company. The center in Armenia will be our third worldwide. In March, we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of Armenia, which provides for foundation of innovation centers by Philip Morris along with creation of Armenian scientific centers. They will conduct deep research in various fields such as chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, engineering, thermodynamics, etc. We selected the fields where Armenia will do critical research,” Vahe Danielyan said.
Philip Morris representative informed that R&D (Research and Development) center would be founded based on the mentioned scientific directions.
“The center will elaborate solutions, ordered by Philip Morris’s R&D centers and not only. The Armenian center will implement some of Swiss research center’s projects, as well as start working on directions, which have not yet been covered. This will take from several months to a year. Currently we have both the agreement and established cooperation between Philip Morris, Armenian public and the Armenian government, according to which Enterprise Incubator Foundation will lead the opening works of the center,” commented Manager of Corporate Affairs at Philip Morris Armenia.
Vahe Danielyan emphasized that the project budget was not yet precise, since it depended on several circumstances: number and volume of implemented projects and solved issues.

Armenia ahead of neighboring countries in Global Innovation Index 2017


The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) released its Global Innovation Index 2017, where Armenia is ranked 59th among 127 countries. In the low and middle income group of countries, Armenia is ranked among top 20 most productive countries. In addition, Armenia is among the top 5 countries with agricultural labor productivity growth with Slovenia, Bahrain, Luxembourg and Belgium. Armenia’s neighbors Georgia is ranked 68th, Iran 75th, Azerbaijan 82nd and Turkey 43rd. The index is led by Switzerland, Sweden and Netherlands.

Ucom and PicsArt highlight strong need for artificial intelligence development in Armenia during DigiTech


On June 9-10, during the 10th jubilee “DigiTech” Business Forum, Armenian Ucom and PicsArt companies initiated a round table entitled “The Development of Artificial Intelligence in Armenia and the Use Thereof in Business”, Ucom told Armenpress.
During the discussion the participants spoke of the top trending topic worldwide, stating that the development of artificial intelligence in Armenia is still in its embryonic stage. Ideas were expressed that along with machine learning, provided by higher education institutions preparing specialists of the sector, it is also necessary to invite professionals, who are capable of not only providing theoretical knowledge, but also boosting the development of practical skills among students.
“PicsArt together with Ucom shared its experience. PicsArt has acquired great experience in the artificial intelligence field and machine learning. Within the framework of this meeting we’ve discussed the ways of developing Armenia and making it competitive in this area, the staffing, the delivery of trainings and educational events”, Michael Vardanyan, the Technical and General Director at PicsArt Armenian headquarters, said.
Presently this education gap is filled by each company individually. Ucom and PicsArt together have initiated courses with total duration of 5 months. Thirty participants selected from 600 applicants are mainly winners of international Olympiads, doctors of science, who happened to be taught by specialists having studied abroad. Among such specialists are alumni of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), those having worked at Google, engineers working at leading IT companies in Russia, etc. Three months are left for completion of the mentioned intensive courses.
“Still many years ago we understood that for advancement of modern technologies and development of innovative products, we need to have specialists, who still in their school years have been taught to think and analyze, develop and create and not just consume. Having this in mind, we greatly support the education process of students in “Armath” engineering laboratories starting from 5th grade. It’s the children with engineering mindset, who will be capable of understanding the challenges of digital era, and as a result of persistent learning will become specialists that Armenian companies like Ucom and PicsArt are strongly in need of these days,” Hayk Yesayan, Director General at Ucom, said.
At the end of discussion, the participants were still exchanging ideas about potential business projects aimed at developing the sector.

Armenia tends to improve positions in "Doing Business'' report


Today, the Government of RA approved the business environment improvement action plan 2017 developed by the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of RA.

The Doing Business project of the World Bank provides objective measures of business regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies and selected cities at the subnational and regional level on the following sectors: starting a business, dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, registering property, getting credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, trading across borders, enforcing contracts and resolving insolvency.
According to the report ‘Doing Business 2017 Equal Opportunity for all’, Armenia improved its positions by 5 points and is ranked 38 within the list of 190 countries, compared to previous year where the country was ranked the 43rd. A progress has been achieved in the indicators "Getting Credit" (22 points), "Enforcing Contracts " (7 points) and "Getting Electricity " (9 points).
The content of doing business ranking is wide providing reforms in all assessed areas. The Ministry of Economic Development and Investments aims to ensure continuity of reforms taking into consideration the best international practices and to ensure further progress of the Republic of Armenia.

Tales of Neto: Armenia’s Tumo Center kids develop innovative anti-corruption game


Armenian children have created an educational 3D game on anti-corruption, which, in a unique way shows the consequences of corruption and proposed solutions.
The game, which is called The Tales of Neto, enables the player to travel in a magical world, which is full of corruption occurrences – like embezzlement, bribery, abuse, and the player’s task is to help the citizen’s in finding correct solutions.
The game was developed in more than a year. It will be available for iOS and Android in August of 2017.
The project is being developed by students of Tumo center for creative technologies, led by Harmik Azaryan – dead of the programming department, and in assistance of the European Union.
According to senior monitor of EU’s Results Oriented Monitoring Mr. Rolf Reichert, this kind of a game is an innovation not only in Armenia, but across the world.
“This is an innovations and this kind of a game didn’t exist till now. If this game achieves its goal in Armenia, it can be used in other countries as well. This will be a very easily-perceived game and will teach children in a non-standard way to combat corruption”, he said.
This is a new project for the EU, since this type of projects, especially games against corruption, haven’t existed.
“This is a new path for the EU and it is interesting to see this project’s success”, he said.

Volterman wallet is always with the owner


Armenian-based Volterman startup has developed a smart wallet, which gives the opportunity to secure your wallet and easily find it in case of losing.
The founder of Volterman Azat Tovmasyan told in an interview to that the team involved 4 members and total 30 volunteers working on the project.
“The smart wallet has 5 key functions. Power Bank allows charging your mobile phone up to 100%. Whenever your wallet and mobile phone are apart, Bluetooth Alarm function signals the information from one device to the other. That is to say, your mobile phone will notify you once forget your wallet somewhere and vice versa. If your wallet has been stolen and you missed the notification, Global GPS Tracker allows you to see through online map (throughout the globe) where the wallet is at certain period of time, while identifying where the thief is running,” Azat Tovamsyan introduced the functions of the wallet.
According to him, the wallet has WiFi Hotspot, which provides Internet roaming service anywhere in the world at prices 10 times less than that of standard roaming.
“If someone dares to open your wallet without your knowledge, the little camera will take a picture and send it to your mobile phone. We have developed a wallet, which does not get lost. Once your wallet is stolen, you will find it easily by receiving the picture of the thief,” Volterman founder explains.
Touching upon the differences of Volterman from other similar smart wallets, Azat Tovmasyan said that those available on the market had only Bluetooth Alarm and Power Bank functions, while they offer wallets with photo camera, WiFi and GPS.
Speaking about the business model of the product, Azat Tovmasyan remarked that they cooperated with GlobalAm NGO, which helped the company start campaigns on design, marketing and crowdfunding platforms.
“The production will start after the crowdfunding. The electronics will be developed in China, as it is impossible to do in Armenia. The leather production and assembly process will be accomplished in Armenia. Volterman will launch the first sales on crowdfunding platforms in June, yet you need to visit and leave your email address in advance to get the product at lower rates. Volternman will start sales on international online shops after completing Crowdfunding,” he said.
Volterman Smart Wallet was among the winners of Innovation Matching Grants (IMG) scheme, held in the beginning of May, Yerevan.
Azat Tovmasyan also informed about the investment offers both from Armenia and abroad.

Armenia’s tourism yeld applies technological solutions to greater extent


Armenia’s tourism yeld started to apply technological solutions to a greater extent, Karen Vardanyan, Executive Director at the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE) told a press conference in Armenpress. “There is a progress in use of IT solutions in tourism yeld. During these years signiycant solutions were proposed. We will discuss these solutions at the DigiTech forum and will try to understand how the IT sector can help to develop tourism, mainly in rural communities”, he said. Karen Vardanyan said it is necessary to more actively use the opportunities of online marketing for attracting tourists to Armenia. “Works need to be carried out over two key tools: tourist before and after entering Armenia. It is necessary to understand how to provide comprehensive information to tourist before visiting Armenia which will encourage him/her. Moreover, it is very important to collect reactions of tourists after they leave Armenia and present them to the other visitors”, Vardanyan said. The technological solutions of tourism yeld will be presented at the DigiTech forum which will be held in Yerevan on June 9-10. The annual DigiTech forum is being held since 2008 by UITE under the auspices of the Prime Minister of Armenia. The 2016 forum was attended by 900-1000 participants. This year more active participation is expected.

Prime Minister Reviews Armenia’s Digital Development Strategy Prospects


Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan held a consultative meeting to discuss the prospects for Armenia’s digital development. A top-level task force was said to have been established based on the statement issued by the heads of EEU-member States. On May 26, 2017, the task force will report back progress in its activities to the heads of EEU-member States’ governments.
In this context, reference was made to the definition of priorities in different areas of digitalization, the formation of structures and institutions responsible for implementation of the digital development strategy, the EEU digital agenda goals, the key targets for expected performance until 2025 and so on. The meeting noted that the global economy is proceeding along the lines of digitization, and Armenia needs to have its own “digital visiting card.”
Highlighting the digitization of the management subject in all areas, Prime Minister Karapetyan said it might be a strong incentive to improve management efficiency.
“This is extremely important. We had to take this step regardless of the Eurasian Economic Union’s program. For example, by digitizing budget, garbage collection and many other services, we can enhance the efficiency of the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development. Will digitalization result in more businesses, increased capacity? Yes of course. Digitization implies additional savings. We will understand why municipal budgets fall short of receipts due to incorrect planning and the reasons behind imbalances. The same is true for other sectors,” the Prime Minister said, adding that each department should know its digitalization agenda.
Based on Armenia’s digital development vision, a Prime Minister-headed national governing council shall be established for support of digital development in Armenia. Karen Karapetyan instructed those responsible to set up a working group within the Council that will develop and submit the structure of digitization and the planned activities.

FAST Foundation announces Advisory Board and CEO


FAST (The Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology) announced the formation of the Advisory Board and the appointment of the Chief Executive Director.
Impact investor and social entepreneur, co-founder of the IDeA Foundation Ruben Vardanyan made his first statement on the intention to create the FAST Foundation in July 2016, noting that the Foundation would focus on "the development of environment for technological innovations in Armenia and mobilization of scientific, technological and financial resources of the Armenian and international community".
Ruben Vardanyan and Noubar Afeyan on behalf of the IDeA Foundation, Fr. Mesrop Aramyan on behalf of the Ayb and Luys Foundations, the high tech and innovations entrepreneur Artur Alaverdyan became the co-founders of the FAST Foundation. Board of Trustees of five people was established, including the co-founders; Artur Alaverdyan was appointed Chairman of the Board.
At the present moment the following persons have agreed to become members of the FAST Advisory Board:

Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Flagship Pioneering, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, MIT, Senior Lecturer 2000-2016, current Corporation Board member (USA),
Naira Hovakimyan, Ph.D., W. Grafton and Lillian B. Wilkins Professor of Mechanical Science and Engineering (USA)
David Yang, Ph.D., ABBYY, Founder and Director of the Board (USA/Russia)
Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham OM KBE PC FRS, Institute of Global Health Innovation, Director (UK)
Serge Tchuruk, Alcatel, former CEO and Chairman, Total S.A. former CEO (France)
Garaped Antranikyan, Hamburg University of Technology, President (Germany)
Mikhail Pogosyan, Moscow Aviation Institute, Rector (Russia)
Yuri Oganessian, Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Scientific Director (Russia)
Andre Andonyan, McKinsey and Company, Managing Partner (Japan)
Armen Gevorgyan, Armenian Government Executive Office, Head (Armenia)
Hovhannes Avoyan, PicsArt, CEO and Founder (USA/Armenia)
Vardan Sahakian, PhD in Physics, State Committee for Science, Deputy Head, the scientist with the highest scientometrical indices (h index) in Armenia (Armenia).

New members can join the Board.
As the Head of the Advisory Board Noubar Afeyan stated The future of Armenia will depend greatly on its capacity to innovate and to provide competitive products and services within the global markets. The Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology is a timely catalyst in making this potential a near-term reality”.

In my opinion the main mission of the FAST Foundation is that it will consolidate the intellectual power in Armenia and abroad, focusing it on solving the actual tasks which determine the scientific and technological progress of the country,” Yuri Oganessian mentioned.

“Back in Soviet times Armenia held absolute leadership in scientific and technological innovations of the big country. In 1956 the USSR government launched the Yerevan Computer Research and Development Institute after Mergelyan, and since then we were well known for leading IT and software developments in USSR. The collapse of former Soviet Union, the major earthquake, the long-lasting economic and energy crisis destroyed the economy of the country leading to mass immigration. I am hopeful that FAST will give the opportunity to re-establish ourselves again as leaders in a number of major industries, in education and academic fronts as well, and this time we will come across as leaders on a global scale outside the borders of former Soviet Union,” Naira Hovakimyan commented.

This is an immensely exciting time for Armenia with the launch of The FAST Foundation. As a society we are facing increasing challenges in every industry and through the development of a platform for bringing about the technological revolution in Armenia, we can remain at the forefront of the development of innovative technologies,” Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham said.

The businessman, architect of innovative ecosystems Armen Orujyan was appointed Chief Executive Director of FAST. Athgo, a non-profit organization created by him in 1999 in Los Angeles, is one of the leading business platforms in the world and has the status of consultant of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Under his leadership, Athgo promoted the development of innovative ecosystems in Europe and Africa, nearly 10,000 young innovators, entrepreneurs and students from 80 counties of the world obtained the support for implementation of their projects and initiatives, including a financial one.

“The world is experiencing an exciting and unprecedented technological transformation. Exponential advances are taking place in all verticals empowering people and economies. FAST propelled by its Founders’ vision, historical scientific accomplishments of Armenia and Armenians around the world, and access to global resources can thrust Armenia into becoming one of the leading if not the leading scientific and open innovation hubs. I envision a world where Armenia is a trendsetter of disruptive and cutting edge innovation in the region and beyond. I find it inspiring and a privilege to be involved with the Founders and all other stakeholders in helming this initiative forward,” Armen Orujyan stated.

During the 9 months from the first announcement of FAST, its co-founders have conducted a series of efficient discussions in different cities in the world with the participation of scientists, investors and entrepreneurs. The team in Yerevan has created a database of almost 5,000 scientists and engineers from Armenia and the Diaspora. More than 120 people from that database contributed to the discussions of the FAST initiative. A significant contribution into this preparatory work was made by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), American University of Armenia, Synopsis, NSF, National Instruments and more than a hundred people who made important and valuable suggestions. 

Our main goal is to unite the state and the private sector, the general public and the elite, the citizens of Armenia, the diaspora and our partners in other countries, the donors and the international organizations, - in order to turn Armenia into one of the leading R&D hubs of the world together,” Ruben Vardanyan stated.

We want to accelerate the creation of an innovate ecosystem in Armenia for science-intensive startups, to promote the commercialization of science by using the potential of the local and global scientific, engineering and entrepreneurial community. The main task of FAST is to build a road with a two-way traffic between Armenian science and the global business,” Artur Alaverdyan said.

FAST intends to become a platform for bringing the technological breakthrough in Armenia in the areas of IT and computer science, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, advanced engineering and manufacturing technologies. The Foundation will be based on 4 pillars: education, research, start-ups and production. Expert council will be formed for every direction.

FAST is planned to pursue three main goals: to serve as a catalyst for technological development, concentrate the efforts and last, but not least, to coordinate the progress in the field. At the same time, FAST will operate according to the principle of an open platform that is ready for the development of partnership relations with private, state, public and scientific organizations in Armenia and in foreign countries. Organizationally FAST will operate as a FOF, without pursuing a commercial objective by itself. The initiative will create commercial venture funds and other business structures.

The scope of the initial financing for the development of the Foundation will be up to USD 15 million. The co-founders will launch a global fundraising campaign to attract up to USD 250 million within five years.

Armenian scientists’ new technology of magnesium production waits for investors


Armenian scientists have developed “New technology for magnesium production” program which offers one of the effective methods of magnesium production that is unique worldwide.
Vahagn Lalayan – Head of Investment Policy Department at the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments, told Armenpress the investment program was developed by Ekatom company.
“The company wants to establish a plant that will produce 1000 tons of magnesium annually. I think 1000 tons is a lot. There are few places in the world that produce magnesium. The technology presented by Armenian scientists also proposes new solutions in the yeld. There are a number of various methods for producing magnesium, however, the method proposed by our scientists is the most effective. According to their calculations, this program can be quite proytable. The total cost of investment program is 6 million USD, and the proytability is 18% annually, which, I think, is a good ygure”, Vahagn Lalayan said.
The program is presented in the investment platform of the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments and waits for investors. He said many are interested in the program. Even previously many were interested in the program, however, it hasn’t been implemented for some reasons. Lalayan said problems are mainly technical that emerged between the private companies. But the circle of interested bodies is wide, although they are mainly foreign companies or individuals. Lalayan said the companies, that understand the yeld, perceive that this is a unique yeld. “Not all investors will be interested in the program, one needs to understand it a little”, he said.

Armenia’s investment attractiveness presented in “Armenia: Great country, smart opportunities” guide


On March 23, the presentation of a guide entitled “Armenia: Great country, smart opportunities” was held in the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of RA. The guide was prepared by the joint efforts of KPMG JSC, which is one of the Big Four auditors and the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of RA.
Minister Suren Karayan said the guide provides comprehensive information on Armenia’s business and investment environment. He said the guide can serve as an effective tool for attracting investments, by providing the necessary information to potential investors. Karayan stated that the guide is a reliable and credible assessment for foreign investors over Armenia’s investment attractiveness. Minister Karayan also attached importance to the memorandum signed with KPMG earlier in the Government based on which the Ministry will cooperate with the company on preparing new information materials to present Armenia’s investment and business environment. In the frames of this cooperation the Minister proposed the company representatives to actively take part in various international investment forums.
KPMG Russia and CIS country partner member Victor Akulyan thanked Suren Karayan for the Ministry’s active involvement in the guide preparation works and productive cooperation.
“I want to state that the presentation of the guide during Armenia-UAE Investment Forum received positive reactions. We held discussions with various potential investors who were interested in the guide. I also want to note that our office in UAE expressed readiness to assist and cooperate in works of attracting investments in Armenia”, Victor Akulyan said.
“Armenia: Great country, smart opportunities” guide provides complete information on Armenia's business and investment environment, with descriptions of outlined priority sectors and existing investment projects, emphasizing Armenia's competitive advantages ,ongoing reforms.
“Armenia: Great country, smart opportunities” guide contains necessary information on legal regulations of economic sector, system of granting existing privileges, trade preferential regimes, macroeconomic and financial indicators, tax and customs legislation, free economic zones.

Armenia and EU initial Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement


On March 21, Armenia and the European Union have initialled the Agreement on Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership.
On behalf of the Republic of Armenia chief negotiator Garen Nazarian, Deputy Foreign Minister and Trade lead negotiator Garegin Melkonian, First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments and on behalf of the European Union (EU) Chief negotiator Luc Devigne, Deputy Managing Director in the European External Action Service and Trade lead negotiator Petros Sourmelis, Head of Unit in the European Commission, initialled the Armenia – EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA).
The Agreement will be an important step to broaden the scope of bilateral relations between Republic of Armenia and the European Union.

The Best Woman Entrepreneurs 2017” Award by the RA Prime Minister


 “The Best Female Entrepreneur 2017” Award by the RA Prime Minister and the opening of the Expo-Fair in support of women entrepreneurs took place on March 16, at the Armenia Marriott Hotel.
The annual award is carried out under the auspices of the RA Prime Minister, with support of the RA Ministry of Economic Development and Investments. The event has been organized and conducted by the “Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center” Foundation (SME DNC).  The Asian Development Bank (ADB), the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), and the USAID/PRP program funded by the US AID have provided financial support to the organization of the Award.
This year's award ceremony was accompanied by a two-day expo-fair that has been initiated by the Asian Development Bank, with support from the English Speaking Association.
The RA Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan welcomed the participants and awarded the prizes to women entrepreneurs.
In his opening remarks, the Country Director of the Asian Development Bank’s Armenia Resident Mission - Shane Rosenthal noted that this event is a good opportunity to celebrate women's entrepreneurship in Armenia, to acknowledge accomplishments, and create awareness of the important role that women-owned and managed business are playing in today’s economy. “This is a story of leadership, of partnership, and of the incredible potential that Armenia has to diversify its economy, help individual businesses to thrive, and create jobs”, - said Mr. Shane Rosenthal.
The main objectives of the Award are: encouraging the entrepreneurial activity and initiative of women in the sphere of economic development of the Republic of Armenia, properly valuing and supporting the achievements of women entrepreneurs in the different sectors of the economy," - noted Levon Mnatsakanyan,  Director of the SME DNC.
The following women entrepreneurs were awarded the RA Prime Minister's Award in 6 categories:

  1. “The Best Woman Employer” category 

Araksya Martirosyan – Yerevan city, IAB International Academy of Business

Irina Chibukhchyan – Yenoqavan village, Tavush Marz, “Apaga Tour” tourism activity 

  1. “The Best Woman Innovator” category

Marina Grigoryan – Yerevan city, “The Little Einstein” children’s home labs 

Narine Khojoyan – Idjevan town, Tavush Marz. “Berq” company: based on modern technologies - production of strawberry, strawberry seedling and blueberry using hydroponic methods, in membrane-covered greenhouses and in open ground. 

  1. "The Best Brand by Woman Entrepreneur" category

Zaruhi Muradyan -  Yerevan city, «Zara Wines» brand Wine production.

Margush Muradyan: Gavar town, Gegharkunik Marz, ANGRET brand, better known as Margush’s gata. Production of Gavar’s traditional gata and pakhlava.

      4.“The Best Young Woman Entrepreneur” category

Irina Saribekyan – Yerevan city, public catering, Japanese cuisine: "Sushi Toria" trademark

Nelly Poghosyan – Amasia village, Shirak Marz, lavash bread production, which was the first in her native village. 

  1. "The Best Start-Up Woman Entrepreneur " category

Hasmik Harutyunyan – Yerevan city, «YES! Republic» children's intellectual club.

Nelly Amirkhanyan – Koti village, Tavush Marz, bread/cereals production. 

  1. "The Best Exporter Woman Entrepreneur" category

Maria Soboleva – Yerevan city, Honey production. Exporting to Russia and the Benelux countries.

Nelly Nersisyan  - Mastara village, Aragatsotn Marz, "Mastarachedo" Company: cheese production. Exporting to Russia. 

 “I wish you would never get weary with your beauty, smile and drive so that you could instill a culture of tolerance all around you. We are well aware that business people are one of our society’s driving forces, and therefore most government functions and steps are aimed at making the business environment more understandable. As I offer you my heartfelt congratulations, I want you to be successful, energized so that your business could thrive year after year,” the Prime Minister said.
Apart from the Prime Minister's awards, the Armenia’s SME DNC has also established the prizes.
SME DNC Executive Director Levon Mnatsakanyan awarded 2 women entrepreneurs from Artsakh.
Encouragement certificates, gifts and prizes were established by the Armenia SME DNC partner organizations as well: the
"Partnership for Rural Community Prosperity» (USAID / PRP) project, implemented with funding from the USAID program,  the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the "Young Entrepreneurs Support" program implemented by UNIDO, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United
Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the “Advice to Small Businesses" office of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD ASB) and the Business Support Office (EBRD BSO), the «Association of Young Women of Armenia" NGO (AYWA), the American University of Armenia (AUA), the Armenian Caritas (CARITAS).

Armenia’s participation in 2nd round of Black Sea Basin CBC Programme to be more comprehensive


54 million Euro budget directed for the second round of the Black Sea Basin Cross-Border Cooperation program is not being divided separately among 8 countries participating in the program, Garegin Melkonyan - First Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments, told “Armenpress”. Like in the 1st round of the Black Sea Basin CBC Programme 2007-2013, in the second round as well 8 beneficiary countries are Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Moldova, Greece and Ukraine. Melkonyan said in the preparation stage Azerbaijan could also be a potential beneficiary, however, due to a developments, it dropped out of the program despite having Turkey’s assistance. “Since here the idea is the cooperation, and Azerbaijan was not inclined to that, we came to a conclusion as a result of discussions that country to be dropped out of this cooperation program”, Melkonyan said. The Deputy Minister stated this program, which is being carried out under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), is unique in a sense that the beneficiaries can be public and private authorities as a result of which there is a chance to form cooperation packages between them. Garegin Melkonyan said a number of events were held in Yerevan and various provinces of Armenia on raising awareness about the details of the program one of which will be held on March 14 in Yerevan, and the next one on March 16 outside of Yerevan. “We aim to inform the public about the program so that the structures and organizations can maximally use it. We over a year are actively speaking about it. There are no limits for the organizations to submit applications for the program, the field is open for every organization. 54 million Euro directed for the program has no separation in terms of any country. In other words, the country, which will be more active, informed, professionalized, ready, as well as capable of implementing competitive programs, will benefit more”, the Deputy Minister said. As a responsible body for this program, the respective division created under Romania’s Ministry of Economy has been selected. The applications will be submitted online to that respective body. Melkonyan informed that currently no applications were received. Recently the Armenian structures started to show interest and activeness on presenting ideas and programs. The Deputy Minister said the deadline for presenting programs is May 31. 3/13/2017 Armenia’s participation in 2nd round of BlackSea Basin CBC Programme to be more comprehensive | ARMENPRESS Armenian News Agency 2/2 As for the first round of the Black Sea Basin CBC Programme, the Deputy Minister said Armenia was presented in 22 programs. He stated that there are a number of successful programs, however this cooperation program was yet a new. Melkonyan expressed confidence that Armenia’s involvement will be more comprehensive in the second round of the program and they will be more competitive which will enable to win more programs and bring them to Armenia. The Deputy Minister added that the programs must be based on the cooperation idea and their proposals must offer involvement of 2-3 beneyciary countries. “In other words, the program must not be designed only for one country. The idea is that it must be based on cooperation”, Garegin Melkonyan said.

Armenia becomes EITI candidate country


The Council of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) approved the application of Armenia’s candidacy for the EITI on March 9 in Bogota, and the Republic of Armenia was granted the status of EITI candidate country, press service of Armenia’s Government told “Armenpress”. Thus, Armenia became 52nd country installing the EITI standard. “The installation of the EITI will lead to ensuring transparency in the mining yeld and increasing the accountability before the public. These factors play a key role for improvement of the business atmosphere in the country. Good management of extraction of natural resources can be beneficial for the citizens, and the EITI is a relevant tool to reach that goal. The significant information will be available for all stakeholders through the EITI. And the most valuable part of the process is that the sustainable involvement of interested parties will strengthen the mutual trust and cooperation between all involved sides”, Davit Harutyunyan – Minister-Chief of the Staff of the Government, said. The EITI creates a platform in Armenia for the mutual cooperation of the Government, extractive companies and civil society which aims at raising the financial accountability of the extractive sector. Armenia’s delegation took part in the EITI international council session in Colombia.

Framework memorandum of understanding between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and Philip Morris International Management S.A. was signed


Attended by Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, a framework memorandum of understanding was signed between the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of the Republic of Armenia and Philip Morris International Management SA.
The MOU was signed by Minister of Economic Development and Investments of the Republic of Armenia Suren Karayan and Philip Morris International Management SA Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa and Phillip Morris International Duty Free President Drago Azinovich.
The official website of the RA Government.

Armenia improves position in The Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom


Armenia has improved its ranking by 21 places in The Heritage Foundation’s 2017 Index of Economic Freedom, and is now ranked 33rd.
The country is now among countries with a mostly free economy.
In particular, Armenia has shown improvement in business freedom and labor freedom.
According to the Index, however, the country performs relatively well in many categories of economic freedom, but more reforms are needed to enhance judicial independence and government transparency.
And despite progress in tackling corruption, particularly in the tax and customs administrations, close relationships within political and business circles raise concerns about cronyism and undue influence.

The II Phase of UNIDO Project “Improving Competitiveness of Export-Oriented Industries in Armenia through Modernization and Market Access” has launched


On February 14, the presentation of the Second Phase of UNIDO Project “Improving Competitiveness of Export-Oriented Industries in Armenia through Modernization and Market Access” took place. The Minister of Economic Development and Investments of RA Suren Karayan attended the presentation and delivered welcoming speech.
“Light industry sector has been announced as a priority sector by the Government of Armenia since 2011 and is considered as a promising sector for export. Several days ago we represented the fields of investments carried out in 2017, where light industry covers a significant part. A number of the new enterprises will create new workplaces in different regions of Armenia.
The Ministry of Economic Development and Investments of the Republic of Armenia is continuously implementing a number of activities set out by the sector development strategy aimed at raising the competitiveness of the products, export promotion and attraction of new markets. In this regard, I want to stress the significant role of international organizations, particularly the role of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in the development process of the sector. Since 2014, UNIDO has been implementing a technical assistance program for productivity, competitiveness and export capacity development of the companies operating in priority sectors of light industry. To make the progress achieved during the first phase continuing, we pass to the second phase, which will officially launch after the signing ceremony,” said Suren Karayan in his speech.
The event will be attended by the representatives of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, Ambassadors of foreign states accredited to Armenia, representatives of international organizations, managers and specialists of garment and shoe production and design, representatives of business community and non-governmental organizations.
The pilot phase of the UNIDO Project “Improving Competitiveness of Export-Oriented Industries in Armenia through Modernization and Market Access” started in September 2014. It was implemented in close co-operation with the RA Ministry of Economic Development and Investments and Development Foundation of Armenia, and funded by the Government of the Russian Federation. Phase I of the Project was aimed at the revival and development of the apparel production traditions in Armenia and Armenia’s integration into regional and international markets. Eight garment producing companies were involved in the pilot phase. Each company underwent multi-dimensional diagnosis by the Project national and international experts on the product development and design, effective production planning and management, human resources, finances, marketing, networking, legal and gender-related matters and respective technical assistance was provided. Trainings and practical workshops were organized for the Project beneficiary companies and students of “Atex-Burgo” Fashion School, resulting in the creation of 5 joint collections of quality and fashion garments under the joint label “5900BC”, responding to the requirements and taste of the modern buyers. The collections were presented at international and national exhibitions and other events: “Collection Premiere Moscow”,” Textillegprom”, “BEE Together International Business Platform” (Moscow, Russia), “Creativity Show”, organized in the frame of UNIDO 50-th anniversary celebrations (Vienna, Austria), “Made in Armenia” (Yerevan, Armenia). The participation in international exhibitions yielded the desired results. The high quality Armenian products started stirring interest among the well-known Russian brands, who extended their appreciation for the exported goods and willingness for long-term sustainable co-operation. Another partnership was developed with one of the famous fashion houses in Russia “Valentin Yudashkin Fashion House”. The models designed by the Fashion House and made in Armenia were showcased during the Paris Fashion Week in November 2016.
The project expertise extend their multi-faceted continued support to the companies with the preparation of the samples and legal, marketing, financial and other matters related to the exports.
The Project facilitated the establishment of “Atex-Burgo Fashion School.” Specialists of the center were trained in “Instituto di Moda Burgo” in Milan, Italy, who launched professional courses in “Atex-Burgo Fashion School” in Yerevan with Burgo textbooks and methodology.
During Phase II the UNIDO Project will continue supporting the enterprises in Textile/Clothing sector and expand involving also shoe/leather sector. The project’s Phase II will seek to revive industrial linkages of the Armenian shoe and garment producers within the regional value chains (especially within the EAEU) by enhancing productivity and competitiveness of the sectors, promoting business networking and institutional partnerships between local shoe and garment producers and developers (design, modeling). It aims to address the challenges related to design, quality and market access, faced by the shoe/leather goods manufacturers in Armenia.

Armenian Prime Minister: New business programs are open for European investments


The Prime Minister of Armenia Karen Karapetyan meet with the representatives of the European Business Association and European companies operating in Armenia. The meeting was attended by the head of the European Commission Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Peter Switalski.
The Prime Minister payed importance to the cooperation between the government and the business sector. "Make sure, that we are resolute to improve the business environment. We consider the involvement of the European business in Armenia very important, in terms of culture, management, and investment. Therefore, we are ready to listen to any of your proposals, " said Karapetyan.
He noted, that the government collected and analyzed investment programs prepared on the results of visits to the region, by the private sector and industry ministries. As a result, 341 programs for a total cost of about $ 3.2 billion have been compiled. They were financed by a variety of sources, particularly from the state budget, municipal budgets, and from the private sector. "This program has funding and partners. In 2017, we intend to carry out the program that will cost $840 million. Currently, the Government is discussing more 779 programs for a total cost of $ 5.3 billion. We consider them logical, and we have made preliminary agreements. They are open for investments ", said Karapetyan.
Switalski thanked the Prime Minister and welcomed the readiness of the Government of Armenia to improve the business environment and willingness to support a variety of issues.
"In the nearest future, the State Revenue Committee will publish a list of law-abiding taxpayers. They will be able to take loans from banks at lower interest rates, thanks to their predictable work.  We will do everything so that the companies which a doing a decent job could get  benefits, " said the head of the government.
In conclusion, the representative of the pension fund Amundi Acba Asset Management said, that the fund management is ready to invest its assets (ie, retirement accounts of citizens) in the real sector, including the development program of the historical center of Gyumri.

Yerevan joined Startup Grind world's largest startup community, which involves more than 200 cities, 98 countries and 1 million entrepreneurs. 


Founders of local companies, innovators and investors will deliver speeches within the frames of the events to be organized in Yerevan each month, by the example of other cities. They will introduce the lessons, which they have learned while creating large companies.
Startup Grind Yerevan was founded by Narine Kotikyan, Georgi Kamoyan and Mari Barseghyan. Teamable  (Armenian) co-founder Vazgen Hakobjanyan attended the first event, which took place on February 4th at Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center (ISTC).
In a conversation with Narine Kotikyan compared Startup Grind with Ted events, only for entrepreneurs this time.
According to her, incorporation of Startup Grind in Yerevan coincided with the fast development of IT ecosystem in Armenia.
“Yes, everyone knows the success stories of PicsArt (the sponsor of the event), Joomag, Teamable and Renderforest, but people do not often have the opportunity to meet with the founders of these companies and listen to their stories, their advice. Such meetings are sometimes organized in Yerevan, though the events are not systemized. Startup Grind will organize events on regular basis. The meetings will be videotaped and shared on the global network,” Narine Kotikyan said.
She remarked that being involved in Startup Grind community, Armenia will have the opportunity to provide wider representation on global IT map.
“This will help beginner entrepreneurs to enter large markets and meet potential investors more easily,” Narine Kotikyan remarked.
Startup Grind was created in 2010, at Silicon Valley. It was represented in more than 50 cities in only a few months.  Google for Entrepreneurs project supports Startup Grind.

World Bank chooses Armenian stratup to implement its project


At the beginning of this year, a business cooperation between the World Bank and Fambox, a startup operating in Gyumri Technology Center, has been established. For the first time in Armenia, the project will be implemented based on Marklogic database technologies. The cooperation was an occasion for the World Bank representatives to pay a visit to GTC in August 2016. After having been presented the technological descriptions of the required solutions, the Washington office of the World Bank assigned the accomplishment of the task to the startup.“The choice of Fambox was not coincidental. The technological skills of the company completely met the requirements presented. The implementation of Marklogic technologies was a totally new challenge in Armenia. The trial project for the Bank was executed at a high level followed by the registration of the company as a partner of the World Bank. As a result, the startup received a contract with a duration of six months at an absolutely competitive price”, GTC manager AmalyaYeghoyan noted.During the implementation of the program, besides the main specialists, an addition of five developers at a beginner’s level in Gyumri will become more experienced in implementing the newest technologies. It’s a good opportunity to gain international recognition for Fambox and GTC in the sphere of Marklogic as well as new business opportunities and famous clients like the World Bank.As AmalyaYeghoyan added, GTC is rapidly becoming more experienced and is grasping the attention of the clients more and more. Especially during the recent years they’re in constant negotiations with both Armenian and foreign clients.

USD 2.4 Billion-Worth Investment Projects Submitted to Government


Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan traveled today to Kotayk Marz of Armenia to discuss problems and development prospects with community leaders and businessmen.To begin with, the Premier advised that during this week the ministries and government agencies will submit summary investment programs, which will be made public next week.
“The Government Staff has examined USD2.4 billion-worth 471 investment projects, of which 345 are deemed to be feasible in 2017 to a total cost of USD 830-850 million,” the Prime Minister stated, adding that this does not mean at all that all of the proposed programs may be implemented this year, because it depends on how the stakeholders will work in this direction.
“This is just the potential we can see at the moment. We have identified both the funding sources and the developers for the aforementioned 345 projects. Moreover, this is a summary program covering grants, community contributions, private investments, State budget allocations and borrowed funds,” Karen Karapetyan stressed, noting that at this point of time the Government is considering 55 investment programs in addition to what was stated above.

Introduction of a Revolutionary Innovative Platform will be the Foundation for Further Progress in the Development of Whistleblowers’ Institute 


Yesterday, the Minister-Chief of Government Staff David Harutyunyan received the representatives of the organizations implementing the “Commitment to Constructive Dialogue” project. The project is implemented by the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (UITE), Armenian Lawyers’ Association (ALA) and European Business Association (EBA) with financial support of the German International Cooperation (GIZ). Mr. Karen Zadoyan, the President of the Armenian Lawyers’ Association NGO presented the main components of the program: improvement of business programs through the protection of SME rights by application of the modern technologies to identify the problems in the business sphere and provide their solutions through the dialogue with the government. But the most important objective of the project is the creation of the institute for the whistleblowers’ protection, who report about corruption crimes in business sphere. This, in future, will serve as an important platform not only in case of identification of corruption crimes in the business sector, but in identification of all types of the corruption crimes in common. Karen Zadoyan noted that negotiations are already underway with an Italian organization for the creation of the platform. Its successful experience should be used when introducing technologies to ensure the confidentiality of information of the reporting persons. David Harutyunyan, highlighted the introduction of the institute for the whistleblowers’ protection and said that the idea in essence is acceptable. There are already steps taken by the government in this direction. In particular, at the meeting of the Anti-Corruption Council which took plce last week, Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan instructed the Minister-Chief of Government Staff and the RA Minister of Justice to undertake steps aimed at introduction of the mechanisms for the protection of whistleblowers and ensuring technical support for the anonymous electronic platform, including presenting the “Law on the Protection of Whistleblowers” to the Government as soon as possible. Ms Mariam Babayan, representative of German International Cooperation organization said that they expects that the platform created within the framework of this program would be sustainable and stay applicable after the end of the project as well. In response, David Harutyunyan noted that this case is more stable and provides long-term sustainability, as the adoption of the corresponding law, and the steps for its adoption are performed. In relation with the technological solutions, he said. “We need to create a tool to ensure the safety of these persons.” According to him, most countries do not invest in these technologies because of two reasons: first, not all countries have so wide social ties that it is difficult to ensure confidentiality, “It is difficult to keep even the state secrets in Armenia”: and the second: these technologies are mainly used for intelligence activities, or by the terrorists and/or other criminals, “We, as a state, want to use this “bad” tool for good purposes.” Karen Zadoyan added that this is the first time that a state is forming such an innovative platform for the fight against corruption. “This is a very big, revolutionary step in not only for the state but also for our society. And this project shall be fundamental for our future. I expect that there will be a significant step forward for the development of the whistleblowers’ Institute,” Karen Zadoyan. Said.

The investment project of establishing a free economic zone in Syunik region was presented


On January 19, an informational presentation on establishment of free economic zone in Syunik region was presented at the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments, followed by Deputy Minister Hovhannes Azizyan’s press conference.
Aram Vardanyan, Head of Division of Investments projects of the Investment Policy Department at the Ministry presented the investment project of establishing a free economic zone in  Syunik region.
The presentation was followed by Deputy Minister Hovhannes Azizyan’s press conference. During the press conference Deputy Minister answered the question of the representatives of mass media about the project, as well as Iran-Armenia trade and economic relations.
Hovhannes Azizyan noted that the main goal of the free economic zone is to contribute to the export volume growth and creation of new workplaces, as well as ensure sustainable economic development through integrating foreign direct investments and introducing advanced technologies.
According to Hovhannes Azizyan the Government of Armenia announces competition for investment projects in Syunik’s free trade zone. The Government of Armenia thus invites for cooperation potential organizers of free economic zone in Syunik, as well as express readiness to consider preliminary applications of potential operators. The relevant announcement and the detailed business plan are posted on the official website of the Ministry.
“We will try to combine different interests and select the projects which will be most attractive and will meet the requirements of our country. We will focus on the approaches and number of jobs that will be created. After there are enough proposals, we will submit them to the Government of Armenia and after some discussions the free trade zone will come into operation”, - the Deputy Minister said.