Press Conference: Armenia Startup Academy

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03-10-2017

Press Conference: Armenia Startup Academy

October 3, 2017, Yerevan Armenia: The press conference held today announced the launch of the Armenia Startup Academy, a pre-acceleration programme commencing as of October 16, 2017 by Catalyst Foundation. The programme intends to develop the Armenian startup ecosystem and is designed for startups who are at the so called “pre-seed stage”, aiming at helping them to upgrade their skills and scale-up to local and global markets.

Armenia Startup Academy is a Catalyst Foundation project implemented in the framework of the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (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 is called to decrease the rate of failures among the Armenian startups, and raise the success cases with direct effect for the economy”, mentioned Emil Tarasyan, RA Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments. He noted that the academy is a pilot project, targeting around 15 startups in its first cycle, which will be continued and supported by the RA Government if proven to be successful.

Hoa-Binh Adjemian, Head of Cooperation Section of the Delegation of the European Union to Armenia noted that the European Union with its partner organisation GIZ and through the jointly funded SMEDA-Project, will support this interesting initiative. The academy will support tech startups from incubation to acceleration as part of EU’s EU4Business and EU4Innovation initiatives. “Yesterday, the European Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Extension, Johannes Hahn, was in Armenia and he has re-stated EUs willingness to assist Armenia in innovation and economic growth. There are four main factors suspending the growth in Armenia which are business climate, access of finances, education and discovery. The EU is continuously working and supporting Armenia to overcome and improve these factors”, noted Mr. Adjemian.

Anne Kempa, GIZ Country Director, mentioned that Armenia has a huge potential of growth when it comes to IT, technology and innovation. GIZ’s SMEDA project has initiated a number of supporting schemes for Armenian startups, such as provision of grants, trainings, mentorship, coaching, networking, etc. As such, the Armenian Startup Academy Berlin was one of the recently organised and successful events by SMEDA, which presented the Armenian startup ecosystem to international investors and businessmen. “Hence, the Armenian Startup Academy is the next initiative called to build on and improve the startup ecosystem in Armenia, which GIZ believes will have a distinct contribution in a creative and sustainable growth in this country”.

SMEDA’s Team Leader Eva Naeher noted that the SMEDA Project is focusing on small and medium business growth and startups are a key target for the project and a decisive factor for the development of Armenia’s economy. “We see a big potential of growth in the startup ecosystem of Armenia. We also think there is a vast potential in innovation, foreign investments and cooperation. Hence, we are very happy to support this initiative”, she concluded.

Catalyst foundation has been established by SmartGateVC. As mentioned by the co-founder Ashot Arzumanyan, the academy will upgrade the capacities of technological startup companies to enable them to offer products highly demanded by customers. The innovation methods and topics will make it easier for the startups to succeed”. 

Hambardzum Kaghketsyan, co-founder of catalyst, presented the training methods to be applied in the academy which are based on Silicon Valley experience closely cooperating with its technological community. In the beginning, the selected teams will undergo a thorough diagnosis and an individual programme will be developed for each of them based on their specific needs and development perspectives. The teams will receive practical knowledge from local and foreign mentors to upgrade their skills on customer and product development. “There will be discussions, pitching sessions and regular evaluations. The best teams will have a higher opportunity to get investments and get involved in global acceleration programmes”, concluded the expert.

 The Call for applications for the Academy is open until October 10, 2017: http://goo.gl/MsF6HH 

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