Tag Archives: EU4Innovation

On 14 March a press conference was organised to announce the second cycle of the “Innovation Matching Grants – Business Development Support for Innovative Technology Start-ups” grant competition under the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project. This competition is open to tech companies (e.g. engineering, cleantech, biotech, advanced ICT, etc.) registered in the Republic of Armenia and able to provide co-financing. Individual entrepreneurs are not eligible to apply.
Activities covered by the grant will cover: development of industrial prototypes; production/manufacturing; market validation; product launch; market entry/customer acquisition; market expansion. Grant size is up to €35,000 per initiative. Up to 9 grants will be provided with project duration of 9 months. Applicants are obliged to provide 50% co-financing (i.e. up to €35,000€) if based in Yerevan, and 15% co-funding if based in the marzes. The first cycle of the EU Innovation Matching Grants started in January 2018, with 9 companies having received funding. The deadline for application submission of the second cycle is 3 April 2018.
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 the South Caucasus Programme. It is part of the European Union’s EU4Business and EU4Innovation initiatives. The aim of the project is to support technology-oriented ventures and to increase the competitiveness of existing SMEs by providing financial and technical assistance to develop new innovative products and services for domestic and global markets.

DSC_4350The International Aid/Cooperation Officer of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Stanislav Toshkov, announced the opening of the call: ‘Economic development is one of the major pillars of EU development cooperation with Armenia. In that regard we consider SMEs to be the backbone of the economy. The EU stands ready to support innovative SMEs which can bring higher added value to the economy. This support comes under the EU4Business and EU4Innovation umbrella and we have a number of projects. SMEDA is one of the flagship projects of the European Union. Therefore, in this and other projects we want to see tech companies accelerated via different means. Therefore, we are announcing the second cycle of the “Innovation Matching Grants – Business Development Support for Innovative Technology Start-ups” grant competition. The first grants cycle produced exciting project ideas so we are looking forward to receiving new, high-quality applications!’

DSC_4384SMEDA Team Leader Eva Maria Näher presented the project and the grant scheme: ‘The second cycle is based on the results of the first, which started very successfully. We see this grant scheme is very important support to the development of a start-up ecosystem in Armenia. This is not only about the grants given to companies, it is also about the integration and full programme of support that helps start-ups to develop further. We hope for very broad participation as we are convinced that there will be very positive results’.

On 17 November Gyumri hosted the two-day “Empowering Regions through High Tech” conference. The conference was organised by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation and Gyumri Technology Centre in partnership with the Armenian government, Shirak Governor, Gyumri Municipality, and the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project. 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 the South Caucasus Programme. SMEDA is part of the EU4Business and EU4Innovation initiatives of the European Union.
150 young people from across Armenia with an interest in technological education, engineering, programming and innovation participated in the conference. There were 3 panel discussions: “Business Environment Support”, “Business Mindset Development in the Regions” and “Education Advancement as a Base for the Future of Armenia”. Different IT workshops were also conducted by international and local experts.
The Gyumri Technology Centre, which opened in 2014, aims to increase opportunities for employment through technological education. The main goal is to stop brain drain from Shirak marz to Yerevan and thus boost regional development through technology. The conference organisers believe that other Armenian marzes also have the potential to be stronger and more sustainable through technological empowerment. Using Shirak marz and Gyumri as an example, the conference gave a space to exchange experience with other marzes and motivate young people to get involved in technology. It is hoped that these young people will be inspired to be part of positive change in their own marz instead of migrating to Yerevan, create jobs in the regions, and support the decentralisation of high tech.

ARS_8381Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of the Cooperation section of the EU Delegation in Armenia, spoke of the importance of regional development: ‘It is an honour for me to be in this beautiful city again to confirm the EU’s commitment to equal growth in Armenia. Equal growth means growth in both Yerevan and the regions. Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, was here a month ago, Lawrence Meredith, the Director of “Neighbourhood East” in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, was here a week ago, and we had a very close discussion with the government to concentrate on and to increase support to the Armenian marzes. We are waiting for the guidance from the government to identify marzes for pilot activities’.

ARS_8237Karen Karapetyan, the Armenian Prime Minister, welcomed students and congratulated them on the occasion of International Students’ Day: ‘In Armenia, we have a goal to develop the high-tech field as one of the priorities of our economy; it has great potential for attracting and exporting investments. At the same time, regional and community development is key to Armenia’s economic development vision. The combination of these two can provide the desired result. The Gyumri Technology Centre is a good example of how to establish and develop a company in the marzes that promotes the development of technical and business skills, innovative research and development in the high-tech field, commercialises talent, and transforms it into successful businesses. Over 3 years the Technology Centre has already created about 200 jobs, has about 100 beneficiaries, and is preparing more than 500 specialists annually. There are 25 local and foreign organisations in the centre. Many of them are exporting their solutions outside Armenia. Our citizens, the city and marz benefit from all this, and this process is having a positive effect on the development of our country’s economy’.

On 3 May an investment event was held as part of the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project. The theme of the event was nurturing innovative growth and supporting and financial opportunities for innovative SMEs and start-ups.
SMEDA is co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and will run till 2019. It is a component of the EU’s EU4Business and EU4Innovation initiatives and is being implemented by GIZ Private Sector Development in South Caucasus Programme.
The investment event was visited by representatives from the private and public sectors, business associations and companies, as well as individual entrepreneurs. They learned about available financial opportunities for Armenian SMEs and other forms of support. A highlight was a presentation on an innovation ecosystem for start-ups in Armenia. Panel discussions focused on helping Armenian start-ups access international markets through the EU support.

ARS_4994Hoa-Binh Adjemian, the Head of Cooperation Section of the EU Delegation to Armenia, noted the strategic importance of Armenia in this sphere during the event: ‘The European Union provides support to various sectors which focus on economic stability and growth, such as innovation, education, science and ICT, cooperation with universities, etc. It is important that Armenia became an associate member of Horizon 2020 with an access to €70 billion funding for research and development projects. The EU will continue to support Armenia’s growth, by promoting innovation jointly with the private sector’.

ARS_5024Tigran Khachatryan, the Armenian Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Investments, praised SMEDA’s work in boosting economic growth: ‘SMEs are the backbone of economic development; innovation is the engine to promote SME growth. It is necessary to support them, as Armenia currently lacks the funding mechanisms required. This type of event is good as it allows Armenian SMEs to learn about new funding tools’.

The event concluded with a reception to allow participants to network, share information, and meet international investors and experts.

On 17 November, Yerevan hosted  the 8th Eastern Partnership (EaP) Informal Ministerial Dialogue. Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and Carlos Moedas, the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, were in Armenia to take part in the event. The meeting focused on strengthening the cooperation of the EaP countries with the European Union in science and innovation and prospects for multilateral cooperation.

2A session on research, science and innovation was hosted by Levon Mkrtchyan, the Armenian Minister of Education and Science. During the session, Commissioners Hahn and Moedas launched the #EU4Innovation initiative for EaP countries. This initiative focuses EU support on reinforcing EaP countries’ capacities for innovation, especially those funded through HORIZON2020 or the European Neighbourhood Instrument.

The meeting was held during an extremely important time for Armenia as the agreement associating Armenia to HORIZON2020 entered into force on 12 November 2016. This agreement allows researchers and innovators from Armenia to have full access to HORIZON2020, the EU’s research and innovation funding programme, under the same conditions as their counterparts from EU member states and other associated countries.
Same day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia hosted foreign ministers of EaP countries, which was also attended by Johannes Hahn, the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and  Jean-Christophe Belliard, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service.During these discussions, ministers discussed developments and achievements following the Riga summit and expressed their expectations of the upcoming summit in 2017.

3This meeting was followed by a press conference. Hahn noted the constructive and open nature of discussions: ‘This is the 8th time that we have gathered in this format – and we have many other  opportunities to meet. This meeting has allowed us to review EaP implementation. There are a lot of agreements, but it’s time to implement and to make things visible for citizens. That’s why, during the summit in Riga, we decided to group different topics into in four areas to be more visible. The first is, of course, extensive support to EaP countries; we believe that economic development is crucial for increasing welfare, prosperity and stable business in the region. The aim of the next couple of years is to support more than 10,000 SMEs – they are the backbone of the economy. We will not only support existing SMEs, but also promote conditions to enable start-ups to thrive’.

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