Armenia continues moving confidently in high-tech industry – Vice Speaker of Parliament - Hakob Arshakyan

Armenia continues moving confidently in the field of high-tech industry. The sector is the fastest growing branch of the country’s economy, Vice Speaker of Parliament  said in his remarks during the end of the 2022 Silicon Mountains International Tech Summit in Yerevan.

“In the current crisis conditions there was an inflow of talented representatives of high-tech industry to Armenia. Many countries in the region compete with one another with their tax systems, infrastructure projects, and their tactics of negotiating with large companies. It is necessary to accept this as a challenge and continue making major works and efforts in this direction. I should confess that although high-tech industry is a leader in Armenia in terms of growth rates, their use, however, among the public and the business is not at a very high level. In this context today’s panel discussions are very important”, he said.

According to him, science, education, industry and economy must be brought to a new fundamental level for ensuring a new scientific-technological rise in Armenia.

Minister of High Technological Industry Robert Khachatryan said their ministry has a task to make efforts to create, develop and promote an economy in Armenia that will be based on high technologies. One of the steps to achieve this goal is to develop science, prepare high-quality specialists and strengthen the importance of science among the public.

“We have such talented specialists who can work on complex engineering and technological solutions, presenting themselves to the world as high professionals and presenting Armenia as a technological country. We are far from the Silicon Valley by thousands of kilometers where Armenian specialists have also their place and important role, but we also have minds reaching our mountains which raises the technological mind and ideas from the Silicon Valley to the Armenian mountains”, he said.

The summit consisted of the following panel discussions: “Smart Governance”, “Smart Economy”, “Smart Banking System” and “Smart Infrastructures”.

74% of Diaspora-Armenians ready to invest in Armenia: two-day international conference launched in Yerevan

 “Alternative Investments in Armenia” two-day international financial conference has kicked off in Yerevan.
The conference is attended by more than 150 participants from Armenia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Curaçao.
The purpose of the conference is to create opportunities for growth of alternative investments sources in Armenia. At the same time, the forum is one of the important events for the activation of the Digital Julfa Network, in addition to attracting investments for Armenian startups.
Venture and corporate venture funds are sources of funding which ensure investments in startups, innovative projects by boosting the economic growth.
The conference will focus on topics as the trends in global capital market, the private capital as alternative assets for making investments with smart money.
BDO Armenia group will work during the conference. Its specialists will provide primary consultations to companies on tax and legal topics.
“The sources of alternative investments will promote the money flow to Armenia’s economy, by supporting the innovative ideas, increasing the efficiency and creating an opportunity for institutional capital management”, Orion Worldwide Innovations CEO and Founder Emma Arakelyan said.
The conference gathered investors, representatives of venture companies, family offices, financial firms, private companies, governments, and embassies.
“Armenia’s financial market today consists of around 10,3 billion USD loan investments, 3,6 billion USD state bonds, 1,1 billion USD corporate bonds, 670 million USD issued shares, and the funds distributed by the private capital funds into the economy are less than 200 million dollars”, Partner, Head of Advisory at BDO Armenia Aleksandr Shaghikyan said, adding that one of the goals of this forum is to contribute to accelerative increase in alternative investments, which will lead to economic growth and creation of a public good.
Highlighting the importance of the conference, Minister of Economy of Armenia Vahan Kerobyan said that the ministry and the government aim at developing the alternative financing layers of the economy. He said that the research conducted jointly with the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs has showed that 74% of Diaspora-Armenians are ready to make investments in Armenia. People also consider the possibilities of private investments.
“There are major opportunities in Armenia for attracting private investments. The goal of our government is to change the structure of the economy and transition from a consumption-based growth model to an investment-based model, reaching the total volume of investments to 25% of the GDP, the volume of foreign direct investments to 6% of the GDP, etc. I assure that all preconditions exist for the private investment funds to operate successfully in Armenia, and the government will assist in every way the formation of these funds and their success”, Kerobyan said.
The conference has been organized in cooperation with Orion Worldwide Innovations and BDO Armenia.         

Dubai Silicon Oasis interested in cooperation with Armenia in IT sector

There are great opportunities for cooperation between Dubai and Armenia, especially in blockchain technologies, Hans Henrik Christensen, Vice President of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority (DSOA), told reporters. He mentioned that Dubai's Silicon Oasis is a state-free zone, and his major function as a leader is to support startups. According to him, in recent years, Dubai supports the creation and promotion of startups, and the state invests laboriously in this sector through venture funds. Silicon Oasis is the biggest hub for startup development in the region "I am pleased to note that the Silicon Oasis of Dubai has become the biggest hub for startup development in the region," he said. Hans Christensen noted that the Silicon Oasis of Dubai has already signed a memorandum with Hayk Vardanyan, the president of the Blockcentro organization operating in Dubai. New memos will be signed during this visit, including with the inviting organization, Made in Armenia NGO. During the three-day visit, Hans Christensen met with the Deputy Ministers of Economy and High-Tech Industry ministries, the ISTC Foundation, the Union of Employers of ICT, and the Union of Information Technology Enterprises. He has also visited the Tumo innovation center and Armat laboratories, NGO chair Ashot Grigoryan noted. According to Ashot Grigoryan, Hans Christensen is quite impressed with the use of technology in Armenia. "The main activities of the Silicon Oasis of Dubai are to find new and successful high-tech companies and to support them in various ways," he said. Tokenization under public administration Hayk Vardanyan, president of Blockcentro company, informed that their company, founded in Dubai, has been cooperating with Dubai's Silicon Oasis for two years. They signed a memorandum with Silicon Oasis in March 2021 to create the world's first blockchain ecosystem in cooperation with a state structure. It is planned to build a corporation with equal shares with the government, which will be the first in the world to implement tokenization under state management. Hayk Vardanyan explained that tokenization is a tool by which the assets included in the blockchain are digitized. And these assets can be bought and sold not only in the local market but globally, using the token. According to him, this is also very important for IT projects and startups that can tokenize their assets and attract finance through shares sale. "We also have a vision of digitizing and tokenizing Armenia's economy, which creates an opportunity to have an economy without borders," he noted. Cooperation in IT and startups support The Vice President of Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority added that Dubai is interested in IT cooperation with Armenia, as it needs outsourcing solutions in that field. He said it is planned to bring 1 million IT developers to Dubai, and they are interested in Armenian IT companies to establish branches in Dubai, with Emirati companies in their turn to be represented in Armenia. "The main purpose of my visit is to understand how the IT ecosystem and culture in Armenia works," he said. Ashot Grigoryan noted that Christensen visited Armenia to learn more about its IT sector, adding that a wide range of cooperation issues was discussed, and specific directions will be specified later. In any case, cooperation in high technologies and support for startup companies are considered a priority. Dubai's experience in creating a free zone in Armenia is also being studied. "Our vision is aimed at the future. We are happy that we are taking the first steps to build that future," said Ashot Grigoryan. 

Science and Technology Convergence Conference (STCC) 2022 to take place in Yerevan

The annual Science and Technology Convergence Conference (STCC) on artificial intelligence, robotics and management, aerospace industry and computational biology will be held in Yerevan on September 28-29.
The 25+ panel discussions at the conference will focus on Armenia's development prospects at the intersection of West and East, Armenia's digital transformation agenda and its opportunities for the tech industry, diaspora resources and the need for fertile ground for their engagement, etc.
STCC is an annual scientific conference organized by the Institute of Informatics and Automation Problems of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia and the Catalyst Foundation, an initiative of the SmartGateVC venture fund, with the support of the "Development of Innovative Tourism and Technologies for Armenia" program of the EU Business Initiative, Science and Technology Convergence Platform (STCP) frameworks. 

South Korean virtual social app ZEPETO willing to include Armenia in virtual platform

South Korea’s Naver Z, a Naver Group subsidiary that runs the 3D-avatar app ZEPETO expressed readiness to cooperate with Armenia and include the country’s tourism hotspots in the program.
As part of a media tour organized by the Korean Culture and Information Service, ARMENPRESS’s Editor-in-Chief Shant Khlghatyan met with Iris Son, Global Business Development Manager of Nazer Z.
Son said that ZEPETO is their company’s most popular app. The company is receiving funding from both the South Korean government and private companies.
ZEPETO provides a blend of entertainment, gaming, and social networking experiences. It lets users render their selfies in 3D avatars, design digital spaces and interact with others.
“ZEPETO is a platform in virtual reality where people can meet one another. People can create their avatar and the environment which is convenient for them. Most of our users are 13-22 years old. Most are young females. This is an unusual phenomenon for the gaming and ICT area. 90% of the users are from abroad. This is very surprising. We call them global users. They are mainly from Asian countries, Indonesia, Thailand, but we also have users from France, Brazil and elsewhere,” Son said.
Most Korean users of the app are from various age groups, unlike foreign users. Iris Son explains this by saying that Naver Z is a major global company and therefore Koreans trust the services offered by the company.
There are ZEPETO users in Armenia too, albeit few.
The company is cooperating with the Korean government. Son said that they have cooperated with the South Korean Tourism Agency: Before working together, they conducted a survey to reveal the top tourism destination of foreigners in South Korea, and the result was Hangang Park in Seoul. And based on this, ZEPETO created the park in virtual reality.
“Therefore I hope that we can also cooperate with Armenia. You have beautiful places and we’d like them to be included in our app. And then we can enjoy Armenia’s sights from our homes. Actually, many people were feeling lonely due to the coronavirus, and human contacts in the metaverse system has unlimited potential, and that’s why people can feel and do things which they are unable to in real life,” Son said.
Naver Z is also working with companies like Nike, Gucci and Samsung. “They want to know that the ZEPETO users do in virtual reality, their behavior and preferences.”
Now Naver Z is planning to create alternative worlds in virtual reality.  There are other similar platforms in the market today, and Son said they want to unite all of them so that more people have the chance to meet in alternative reality.


University of Salzburg offers grants for Artsakh cultural, spiritual heritage study 

The Department of Armenian Studies of the Center for the Study of Eastern Christianity of the University of Salzburg, in Austria, has offered scholarships for researchers studying the spiritual and cultural heritage of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia informed Armenian objective of this scholarship program is to encourage young researchers to study topics related to Artsakh's culture and art history, with special emphasis on matters related to tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
The maximum amount of the scholarship is 3,000 euros.
Also, a short-term stay in Salzburg may be organized within the framework of the respective grant.
The application period for the "Armenian Studies research grants focused on the cultural and spiritual heritage of Artsakh" started on July 1, and the deadline is October 1.

FAST and STARMUS sign Memorandum of Understanding

Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) and STARMUS International Festival signed a memorandum of understanding ahead of the STARMUS VI Festival to be held in Yerevan on September 5-11.
As a leader of transforming educational and scientific ecosystem in Armenia, FAST will be the partner of STARMUS in science, art and music fields, contributing to the fulfillment of the organization’s mission and the holding of events in Armenia aimed at popularizing science. Committed to the vision to develop education in science sector, FAST has acquired 100 tickets of STARMUS which it will provide to students of Armenia’s high schools so that they take part in this important event.
The Foundation will also participate in the Science Camp on the sidelines of the Festival, which will take place in the Freedom Square of Yerevan. The Science Camp will focus on different topics. FAST will have a separate pavilion at the Camp where it will present its 5-year activity in artificial intelligence, as well as the products of local AI companies aimed at popularizing the sector. 
FAST Founding Director Armen Orujyan highly valued this cooperation, stating that it will contribute to raising interest among new generation towards science. “Our goal is to support Armenia to be included in the list of top five innovative countries in data science and artificial intelligence by 2041.We know that this path is difficult and requires a lot of work, but Armenia’s scientific traditions inspire hopes that in case of having a developed innovative ecosystem we will be able to utilize our potential correctly and ensure that very much desirable drastic growth”, Armen Orujyan said.
“The main goal of STARMUS is to inspire youth to be interested and engaged in science. From the very start we were convinced that we are going to cooperate with FAST and are confident that it will continue in the future as well because the main purpose of FAST is the development of science and technologies in Armenia which is fully in accordance with the tasks set before us. I am sure that we have a long path to pass with FAST in order to draw world’s attention to Armenia as a country of scientific achievements”, STARMUS Founding Director Garik Israelian said.
The Science Camp will take place from September 8 to 11, at 17:00-23:00, it will be open for all visitors. 10 innovative startups, that are beneficiaries of different projects of FAST, will present their AI solutions. The visitors will have a chance to take part in interesting games and competitions by acquiring new knowledge and impressive experience.
The format of STARMUS Festival involves scientific debates, panel discussions, exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and many other events.
This year FAST will hold already the 4th Global Innovation Forum (GIF22) on October 5-6 in Yerevan under the title “Life Altering Technologies”. 

The program developed by Armenian specialists will be used by the government of Zambia

The system, created by the Armenian company Synergy, will help about 15,000 families in Zambia reduce the risk of hygiene diseases. An agreement was signed with the delegation of the Sanitary Project of Zambia.
“Using over 800 indicators we have developed, the Zambia Sanitary Project is now helping to implement multi-level and extended monitoring. The system currently helps about 15,000 families reduce the risk of hygiene-related illnesses. At the next stages of the project, up to 250,000 beneficiaries are expected to be involved,” said Hayk Manukyan, Program Director of Synergy.
The Zambian government is implementing a Sanitary Program in Lusaka that will provide hygienic conditions for the poorest households. The project includes the expansion of the sewerage network, the development of sanitary infrastructure and sector management systems. The project is supported by the World Bank.
“Over the past five years, Synergy has assisted us in researching, designing, developing and digitizing a project that aims to facilitate investment in sanitation and hygiene in Lusaka,” said Jonathan Campatan, director of the Lusaka water and sanitation company.


New technology center to be built in Yerevan

A multifunctional technological center “Dalan” will be built in Yerevan with an investment of 110 million dollars, Enterprise Armenia said in a statement.

“In a total area of 158,000 square meters, the Dalan will include offices, commercial areas, sports and research centers, public and rehabilitation places. There will be a hotel and a parking for over 1000 cars. The Dalan is going to be the first building in the region meeting BOMA A Class construction standard. This standard is given to high-class and reputational buildings, which offer high-quality solutions, modern systems. The project will be implemented based on LEED certificate standards”, the statement says.
Enterprise Armenia Director General Levon Ohanesyan highlighted the significance of the Center both in terms of the volume of investments and the impact on the development of Armenia’s technological eco-environment.
Dalan will be put into operation in 2026.


Yerevan to host EMERGE 2022 international Tech conference

EMERGE 2022 international tech conference will be held in Yerevan, Armenia, on June 1-2.

The event will be attended by over 2000 IT sector representatives from USA, countries from Western and Eastern Europe, the Balkans and Central Asia.
The speakers include representatives from TechCrunch, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Snap Inc., Pinterest, Google Deepmind, Glovo and many other international companies.
The conference aims at introducing specialists, founders and investors on IT development trends, as well as becoming a platform for forming networks between top specialists.
The speeches will focus on two directions – #trendwatching and #founderstories.
The participants also will have an opportunity of matchmaking - a face to face meetings with speakers and investors.
Another key component of the conference is the annual EMERGE CHALLENGE competition, the winners of which will receive investments and awards by Amazon Web Services. During last year’s conference the startups attracted over 5 million Euro investments.
EMERGE conference is dedicated to new technologies, startup issues and global IT trends.
The conference will take place in Gabriel Sundukyan Theater of Yerevan.
Among speakers are Mike Butcher (TechCrunch, Techfugees), Aliona Doletskaya (journalist, ex-Vogue) Davit Baghdasaryan (Krisp), Kris Farber (Openface), Mikayel Vardanyan (Picsart), etc.
Tickets are available online.
Conference partners are Dom-Daniel, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Inecobank, Semrush, the Untitled, Vibranium VC, BigStory VC, Team Telecom.


 “Dragon Reaper” – Young engineer, winner of 100 Ideas for Armenia, works on drone-killing air defense system

A young ex-servicemember and IT engineer created a modern air defense system designed for new generation warfare.
Albert Hovakimyan, the winner of the 100 Ideas for Armenia project, is calling his innovation the Dragon Reaper (Vishapakagh).
It is an automated optical detection active anti-air defense system, he explains.
According to Hovakimyan, the Dragon Reaper is needed today because there are virtually no alternatives which would reliably and effectively protect from loitering munitions, particularly the Israeli-made Harops which are in the Azeri military’s arsenal. Hovakimyan says the development of these loitering munitions, aka kamikaze drones, is leading to a situation where the size of the drones are getting smaller, while the number of the strike groups is increasing, and the software is shifting to artificial intelligence.
“This project is a solution requiring minimal industrial resources using modern, accessible digital technologies and tools, it has a modular structure in principle, which are connected to each other with a local network and can be used with different modular combinations and options. It is the connecting, combining and deployment of already existing measures, some of them in production in Armenia, with the use of modern solutions and software, which will together be the active air defense system, while minimal energy and human resources will be needed for its operation. It is unique in the sense that the principles of existing radio-detecting guiding and radio-electronic suppression methods will be used with optical solutions,” Hovakimyan said, adding that the system won’t require a direct permanent maintenance, and it will work under the “deploy and forget” principle.
Hovakimyan says his system can potentially replace the manned air monitoring positions and thus save lives during possible threats.
“The project is still in phase 1 research. Having skills and knowledge in air defense and programming, I can certainly say that a little team work from the rather developed IT sector specialists of Armenia can lead to very big results,” he added.
The 100 Ideas for Armenia competition is a youth project organized by the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport for encouraging young people to be interested in science and propose innovations. The competition has more than 20 categories and includes various sectors.



Armenia improves position in 2021 Index of Economic Freedom

Armenia has improved its position in the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom by 2 more points, Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan said in a statement on Facebook.
“We are the 32nd now. It’s worth noting that we strengthen the position of a country having the best business climate in the EAEU space. But we are not satisfied with the results, a lot needs to be improved for doing business, which we have promised by the new action plan of the government”, the minister stated.
Armenia’s economic freedom score is 71.9.

Armenia becomes 2nd country after US to grant patent to computer programs

YEREVAN. – The Law on Patents—which regulates property and personal relations in connection with the creation, legal protection, and use of inventions—enters into force in Armenia on Thursday. Armenian was informed about this from the Ministry of Economy.
"With the adoption of the new law, Armenia becomes the second country in the world, after the United States, which carries out the granting of patent to computer programs," said Kristine Hambaryan, acting head of the Intellectual Property Agency of the Ministry of Economy.



High-tech ministry: 3D glasses developed by Armenia engineers are few steps ahead of others in world

The new generation of Armenian scientists presents many interesting programs. Accordingly, 10X Engineering is one of the winners of the respective grant programs for established companies. Using VR technology, the company's engineering team has developed 3D glasses that enable the human visual and auditory senses to move to the virtual world, and this reduces pain and stress levels during medical examinations, or other stressful situations.
Similar devices already exist in the world, but the Armenian model is a few steps ahead of them, as the content developed by Armenian engineers takes into account also the distinctiveness-nationality, age, preferences, susceptibility to various phenomena, taste, and some other attributes-of each person. The first tests of this product are scheduled in six months.



Government launches IT employment program for Karabakh war veterans

This year, the Ministry of High-Tech Industry will launch the “Soldier’s Success” pilot program, which is targeted at the provision of support to servicemen who became disabled during the war in Nagorno-Karabakh and requalification in the IT sector. This is what Minister of High-Tech Industry Hakob Arshakyan told reporters today.
Arshakyan added that in late 2020, a decision was made to organize, within the scope of a program for preparing specialists in the format of the “university-private sector” cooperation, a free training course for those who were wounded and those who participated in the Karabakh war. “Overall, through this program, AMD 400,000,000 was allocated for all applicants in 2020,” the minister stated



Application is open

Microsoft Innovation Center Armenia in cooperation with the Black Sea Project Promotion Facility starts the application process for the data science program. Within the project the 6-month bootcamp on data science will be delivered. In addition, seminars will be carried out by the well-known specialists from Microsoft, Yandex and other companies. During the bootcamp participants will work on real projects and issues. In the result, they will have a unique opportunity to strengthen their knowledge and gain practical skills.