13:10 | 28.12.18 | News | exclusive 15776

2018: Armenian tech developments

Itel.am summed up tech 2018 and presents the most important events and people this year.

New interests: blockchain and crypto

The interest towards blockchain was significant even in 2017, when the value of bitcoin reached USD 20,000. Blockchain Technologies Corporation CEO Nick Spanos visited Armenia in late January as a head of the delegation of international experts on bitcoin in order to get familiar with blockchain, crypto potential and prospects of the country.

Being motivated by the results of the visit, he decided to open a branch of his company in Armenia.

Spanos was also a member of Yerevan Blockchain Hackathon jury. The hackathon involved 7 teams, of which 4 received monetary prizes.

Founder and CEO of Blockchain Technologies Corporation Nick Spanos returned to Yerevan in August to advise Armenian government officials on conducting upcoming elections using paper ballots with blockchain technologies.

Further local events on blockchain and crypto world activated. Currently more than 10 startups at different stages of development operate in Armenia, offering similar solutions.

In November Chainpoint 18 International Blockchain Conference took place in Yerevan, involving about 350 participants and more than 35 speakers from 20 countries.

Establishment of international companies in Armenia

At the beginning of October American IT company DISQO announced the opening of its branch in Armenia.

The company, which attracted USD 13.5 million, was founded by Armenians. It provides first-hand consumer data to the world’s largest market research and analytics companies.

Leading provider of workflow management software for home-service businesses ServiceTitan announced the opening of an office in Armenia. Co-founder Vahe Kuzoyan confirmed the information in an interview to Itel.am.

According to him, the primary goal is extending the team, which is working on product development.

Canadian ISB is also among companies that provided their presence in Armenia and it already operates at Engineering City.

Founded in 1972, the company has a leading position in electronic security and automated production.

Armenia’s “trace” in international IT

In February the Estafeta of the World IT Forum 2019 was passed to Armenia at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in Hyderabad, India.

The event to be held on October 6-9 of 2019 will unite 2500 tech representatives from more than 80 countries.

The congress also revealed that the experience of Armath engineering laboratories will be then implemented at schools of India.

Armenia’s Tumo Center for Creative Technologies has received the WITSA Chairman Yvonne Chiu’s award for “Fulfilling the Promise of the Digital Age”.

Tumo Paris opened in September, Tumo’s first international center, which has around 1500 students.

Welcome to Armenia

In October UN in Armenia hosted a meeting with Sophia, the AI-based robot by Hanson Robotics, who arrived in Yerevan to participate in XVII Francophonie Summit.

Sophia participated as a speaker in the business forum within the frames of the Francophonie Summit.

At the end of autumn, President and CEO, co-founder of the National Instruments James Truchard visited Armenia to receive the 2018 State Award of Republic of Armenia for Global Contribution to Humanity through IT.

He also attended the stone-laying ceremony of the Engineering City.

The same as every October, Yerevan hosted the annual tech conference held by HIVE Ventures. The event gathered representatives of Armenia’s IT sector and speakers from Silicon Valley.

Grants for startups

In June, the EU-supported Innovation Matching Grants (IMG) contest concluded in Vanadzor.

There were 16 teams in the initial stage of the program, 6 out of which were awarded grants of EUR 35,000 each for 9-month programs.

On November 27, the EU4Business Science and Technology Entrepreneurship (EU4Business STEP2) program announced the winners.

15 startups received grants between EUR 6,000 and EUR 15,000, provided with project duration of 6 months.

December revealed the winners of the venture conference held in the scope of STEP’s From Idea to Market annual contest.

Startup ecosystem and higher education

Armenia’s higher education institutions and the IT sector are starting to cooperate more closely with time. Some universities are already opening incubators to support seed-stage startups.

These are the programs realized in the scope of that cooperation:

The incubator program of Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) at the American University of Armenia (AUA);

The incubator at the Armenian National Polytechnic University, which opened in June;

Startup Boost Weekend, held twice in 2018. First it was hosted by American University of Armenia and by the Polytechnic University later, in December. The event was aimed at encouraging entrepreneurial thinking among students.

IT events

BarCamp Yerevan is a two-day (anti)conference held for the 10th successive year, which focuses on exchange of knowledge and skills as well as establishment of new connections between IT sector actors.

2018 DigiTec Expo registered 80,000 visitors and 120 participating companies this year.

Annual tech conference DevFest gathered 250 experts and investors (including Google representatives) interested in open code in Yerevan for the 7th year.

Sevan Startup Summit hosted over 1000 participants from 35 countries in the camp on the shores of Lake Sevan.

There was also the national stage of Seedstars, where D’efekt took the first place and won the opportunity to represent Armenia in the global stage of the contest.

“Neruzh” (“Potential”) startup program had 70 participants, 50 of which arrived from the Armenian Diaspora.

“Empowering Regions through High Tech” conference in Gyumri was aimed at empowering Armenia’s marzes through the latest technologies.

There was also the two-day Science and Technology Convergence Forum, held in October, which included reports and sessions on renewable energy, cybersecurity, microelectronics, machine learning, and quantum calculations.

JavaScript Conference Armenia 2018 had over 700 participating experts and more than 20 large IT companies from Armenia, Germany, Finland and USA.

Other events

This year the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) announced the launch of the Advanced Solutions Center (ASCENT) and created an angels network.

Another big opening of 2018 was Beeline Startup Incubator, which focuses on assisting Armenian startups with their first steps in the market.

Armenia Startup Academy is a pre-acceleration program that had two dozen participating startups, which were to develop their products over the period of 12 weeks.

Narine Daneghyan