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Armenia’s Technology Future (ATF) Initiative

 

 

Armenia is a developing country with a rich heritage in math and engineering. Recently, it has emerged as a leader in the IT industry. Still, Armenia faces numerous challenges within the high-tech ecosystem. During 2018-19, AUA and the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) launched a joint effort to establish an international academic panel that interviewed and discussed challenges in Armenia with representatives from different stakeholder groups.

With the purpose of promoting Armenia’s advancement, the panel identified a number of challenges along with action plans to develop and implement effective solutions. The cohort recognized that the complexity of the projects described will require open collaboration between different stakeholders, capacity building based on trust, and enhanced common understanding of overarching goals. 

Five ATF areas were identified as elements essential for collaboration in order to advance Armenia to desirable resilience:

Area 1. Artificial Intelligence National Network

Area 2. Leadership Development

Area 3. Capacity Building in Local Clusters

Area 4. Enhanced STEM Education and Project-Based Learning

Area 5. Innovation Process

The panel delineated a process for implementation of collaborative efforts, driven by university PI’s and including a yearly supporting dialogue with an Executive ATF Board.

The ATF initiative recently embarked on a new phase of development following promising discussions with the Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport Karen Trchunyan, as well as Deputy Prime Ministers Hambardzum Matevosyan and Mher Grigoryan, which confirmed the government’s commitment to support the initiative. 

In recent meetings, panel members presented the issue of Armenia’s longtime lack of a link and platform for collaboration among universities, industry, and scientific institutions, asserting that the ATF initiative would be the first platform to bring all higher educational institutions together in a joint effort to foster a collaborative environment and support the country in solving complex challenges. 

On May 23, the first meeting of the ATF Executive Board took place, during which an MoU was signed between the Union for Advanced Technology Enterprises and the five founding universities: 1) Yerevan State University, 2) Armenian National Agrarian University, 3) French University in Armenia, 4) Russian-Armenian University, and 5) AUA. 

The Board unanimously elected AUA President Dr. Karin Markides as current president of ATF and Rector of the National Agrarian University Vardan Urutyan as her successor. A troika of annually rotating university presidents (past, present, and future) will be selected by the Board members.

On June 9, 2022, the six partners met and discussed the 5 ATF areas and expectations from each of the universities involved. They delivered presentations on initial projects and developed an action plan for each ATF area group. 

With a vision to prepare Armenia for desirable resilience, prosperity, and peace, the partners outlined a mission designed to strengthen the national appetite and energy for change and the understanding of how trust-based collaboration is built, enabling a world-class collaborative process. The goals for each area include:

Armenia Center for Artificial Intelligence

To build a national network of AI centers at universities, a central hub within the Armenian AI ecosystem, enabling international visibility and attraction, while promoting strong AI education, research, and mindset among all stakeholders in Armenia. 

Leadership Development

To enable successful joint efforts in leadership development in Armenia, impacting all public and private organizations.

Capacity Building in Local Clusters

To build a culture of collaboration in local settings by attracting stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to understand the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of profile areas and enable integration, transformation, and capacity building for the local cluster to develop and drive prosperity. 

Enhanced STEM Education 

To lift the quality of STEM education in all Armenian schools to a level that matches the highest international standard.  

Innovation Process

To identify partners that will participate in the startup phase of developing the innovation process, considering that the latter is becoming more systemic and circular and that a life cycle perspective will prove increasingly important for innovations to be competitive.

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