Tag Archives: “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project

On 15 March the EU Delegation to Armenia organised an informational visit to innovative companies and start-ups which have received technical and financial support through the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project to get acquainted with the results achieved through the EU support. The visit was attended by the EU Ambassador to Armenia Piotr Świtalski.

20SMEDA 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. SMEDA forms part of the EU4Business and EU4Innovation initiatives of the European Union in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. To enable broad-based growth in Armenia, SMEDA focuses on the main objective to improve the general business and investment climate in Armenia, and to create a supportive entrepreneurial environment which fosters development and creation of small- and- medium enterprises. The project has been supporting Armenian start-ups with two types of grant – Innovation Matching Grants (IMG) and Science and Technology Entrepreneurship (STEP) grants. The total budget of the project is €6.53 million (EU contribution is €6.4 million); it was launched on 1 January 2016 and will run till 31 December 2019 (48 months).

19The project achieved tangible results in supply side-orientated start-up support: 224 new jobs were created due to participation in the programme; there have been 45 new ideas in the market for new products and services; 22 companies were newly established due to participation in the programme; additionally, at least €400,000 in investment was attracted; 2,063 participated in training, workshops and boot camps; 65 startups were supported; 33 companies have received EU IMG and STEP seed grants. Both grants target tech-orientated SMEs and projects. In the first cycle, companies received 8 IMG and 5 STEP grants (selection in 2017) which offered €15-50k in funding for 12 months. In the second cycle, companies received 6 IMG and 15 STEP grants (selection in 2018) with up to €30k for 9 months and between €4-15k funding for 6 months.

1During the visit the EU Ambassador mentioned: “Our German partners are implementing this flagship project, SMEDA, it is still running. This project is very important for the EU. We want to show to Armenians that the EU wants to be seen as the ambassador for SME enterprise and innovation. We believe that SMEs can become a very important engine of growth in Armenia. They constitute great untapped potential for the economy. The way forward for Armenia is through innovation. Baring in mind Armenia’s intellectual potential and human capital, we believe that this fusion of SMEs and innovation can bring a lot of benefits to the country. We are glad that the current government shares this philosophy. The fact we are on the same page opens new possibilities for future cooperation. On our side, as a symbolic act, we will extend cooperation with GIZ, adding €3 million to support SMEs, particularly start-up initiatives in technology. Today we will inaugurate the Start-up Europe Week Yerevan 2019. This week is not only about publicising EU commitment and support, but also publicising the success stories of real Armenian businesspeople who are trying to put SMEs at the centre of attention”.

^7DDA8AFE5020AA3C982A3A493A5E7763BE32FCF15DE2B6ED5F^pimgpsh_fullsize_distrEvery year Europe celebrates Europe Day: the celebration of peace and unity. 9 May marks the anniversary of the historical ‘Schuman deceleration’. On 11 May 2018, Europe Day celebrations in Armenia were officially launched. In the morning, Armenia’s President, Armen Sarkissian visited the office of the European Union in Armenia. The President congratulated the Head of the EU Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Piotr Świtalski and the staff of the office and in their person the large EU family on the occasion of Europe Day and wished them peace and prosperity. The parties exchanged views on the agenda of Armenia-EU relations and programmes which are implemented in Armenia through the assistance of the European Union.
This year, Europe Day celebrations will be held in 6 Armenian cities (Ijevan, Hrazdan, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Kapan, and Yeghegnadzor) and will be concluded in Yerevan on 2 June. The participants of outdoor public events will have the opportunity to learn more about EU-funded projects in Europe and Armenia, to get acquainted with projects’ achievements, to enjoy good music, to participate in various competitions, to win many surprise gifts, and to taste different European dishes. The embassies of 11 EU Member States accredited in Armenia will join in hosting cultural and entertainment events.

ARS_7121_Later that day, Ambassador Świtalski announced the launch of the pan-European holiday in Armenia during a press conference and informed about the upcoming events: ‘We consider Armenia as a member of the larger European family. I invite the Armenian pubic to join us during Europe Day celebrations, which we consider to be a shared occasion, a shared opportunity to show that we belong to the same family. This year, for the first time, Ijevan and Hrazdan will host these celebrations. We will also visit, as usual, Gyumri, Vanadzor, Kapan, Yeghegnadzor and, of course, Yerevan. As always, we dedicate many of our activities to youth, the future of this country. Europe Day is about values; in recent days Armenian youth demonstrated that they believe in the values of democracy, the rule of law, an independent, fair judiciary, etc. This is something that constitutes the common basis of our relations. Soon we will start the provisional implementation of the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA), which is very important. We are looking forward to joint work with all our stakeholders’.

ARS_7052_The launch of Europe Day activities kicked off with a fashion exhibition organised jointly with the Fashion and Design Chamber of Armenia. 16 fashion designers presented exceptional clothing collections created especially for this occasion, inspired by the European flag. With EU support under the EU4Business initiative the ‘Business Club for Impact’ joined up with the ‘Fashion and Design Chamber’ to establish the Business Club for Fashion and Design in February 2018. This unites more than 60 individual designers who for the first time have created a joint platform for the fashion and design industry, aimed at promoting more knowledge and business skills in the world of design. The Business Club is funded by the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project, co-funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. It is being implemented by GIZ’s Private Sector Development in the South Caucasus Programme.

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’.