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The launch event of the new “Innovation for development” project took place on 2 February 2016. The project is funded by the European Union and is being implemented by the UNDP office in Armenia. The project was launched by introducing the first ever “Public Sector Innovation Week” in Armenia, which included a conference in TEDx format, “Kolba cafe” meetings, and workshops for high-level public servants.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski, talked about the importance of such initiatives: ‘I am very happy that the EU is associated with this kind of innovative development. The future is about innovation and know-how. The best future for Armenia will come through innovation. Armenia has quite limited natural resources, has a difficult geopolitical situation, so let’s use the talent of people, and their brains. The EU promotes and supports innovation in Armenia through various projects, covering sectors such as economic development, research, education, and e-governance. To ensure that innovation participates in transforming the Armenian administration, it is important to foster bottom-up approaches and encourage new ideas in policy making. Therefore, this project has been devised to encourage the practical engagement of citizens and public sector for effective and efficient governance’.
Bradley Busetto, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in Armenia, laid out the project’s aspirations: ‘Innovation for development will unleash innovators across society. From classrooms to hospitals, and up to municipal and government offices, this project will provide a platform for anyone who thinks they have a solution to help Armenia reach its development potential’.
The philosophy of the project is citizen centered, as it gives citizens a key role in policy development and implementation. The cooperation of two major organisations will allow them to develop new mechanisms for citizen participation and introduce open government innovations in Armenia. The project will have three strategic directions: idea incubation from citizens, public awareness activities, and public sector engagement.
In Armenia and the rest of the world there is a need to increase citizen engagement in decision-making processes. A series of open competitions will be held to delegate the problem solving process of social issues to citizens in Armenia, thereby encouraging participatory approach and assessment. Each citizen will have the opportunity to suggest solutions, and the best ones will be given an incubation period and initial financial support.
Competitions for ideas will also take place within government to encourage and develop new, more effective procedures, open government solutions, and communication tools. As a result of the project, the concept for an Open Governance Centre will be created to promote and develop participatory approaches to public services.

The EU Delegation to Armenia, in cooperation with the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU), the Tumo Centre for Creative Technologies, and the Estonian Embassy, organised the “e-Armenia” conference on 29 September 2015. The conference brought together relevant stakeholders to give an overview of the concept of e-Governance (e-Gov), discuss the progress in the sector, and explore potential future developments.
E-Gov initiatives implemented in Armenia have brought about a noticeable change in developing cost-efficient and transparent e-services. To date, EU support to the sector has included the introduction of “Mulberry”, an electronic document management system in government institutions, a tax payer and tax statements submission electronic system, the electronic civil status register, a one-stop-shop vehicle registration system, an automated driver’s licence issuing system, and online traffic fine tracking and payment systems.
ARS_9977Piotr Switalski, the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, emphasised the ongoing and future initiatives: ‘I am very glad that the EU emblem is so visible today in the context of the e-Governance and the future of Armenia. The EU has consistently supported initiatives and programmes to introduce elements of e-governance to Armenia. The list of these projects is very long: an e-visa system, online business registry, e-police, etc. These are real assets and achievements for the Armenian government and Armenian institutions. The EU remains commited and wants to continue enhancing e-Governance models further in Armenia. I am so grateful that Estonia is providing its valuable experience. Estonia has achieved much, not only in this region but in the whole European context. It shows that a small country can build an image of being a leader by investing in future-orientated segments of economy and governance. It is a very good example for Armenia’.
ARS_9895The Armenian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of International Economic Integration and Reforms, Vache Gabrielyan, confirmed Armenia’s commitment: ‘The Armenian government pays great attention to the development of the electronic systems in the private sector, as well as in the government itself. Our aim is to make electornic services more avaliable to the public. In this regard, I think that these sorts of conferences are very important as we can have very important discussions, such as Estonia’s experience with e-Governance. Being a small country, they have made big achievements in this field. However, Armenia also has made achievements worth talking about. We have not only encouraged good experience and innovations, but also created a common resource to which everybody can contribute to and from which they can benefit’.
ARS_9913Vasken Yacoubian, an AGBU board member, talked about the importance of the conference: ‘When we had discussions with representatives ftom the EU Delegation to Armenia, we concluded that this event had two main goals. The first is to introduce e-Governance to the wider public and to describe what it is. The second is to discuss how we can use this platform for the Armenian Diaspora. We think that this platform is so important as it helps governance to become more transparent and make boundaries disappear’.
The participants of the conference discussed next steps, which include making information and services as user friendly and accessible as possible by harmonising different systems, and exploring potential cooperation with the Diaspora. Speakers at the conference included government officials, representatives from the Diaspora, IT experts, representatives of international organisations, and other relevant stakeholders.