The official Opening of Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center was unveiled
The Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center hosted its grand opening in the capital, Yerevan, on November 10 with the participation of Armenia’s Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies, Vahan Martirosyan, U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills and IBM University Relation Manager Sergey Belov. Event attendees included high-level guests from the Government of Armenia, IBM, and the U.S. Embassy, and over one hundred representatives of the tech and business community of Armenia, including startups, big and small businesses, and academia.
The Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center (ISTC) is a joint project of the Government of Armenia, the Enterprise Incubator Foundation, IBM, USAID, and Yerevan State University. The main goal of ISTC is to develop and strengthen the educational capabilities of Armenian higher educational institutions in IT/High-Tech, enhancing the research potential and creating a favorable environment for formation of sustainable businesses, all while assisting the business development of IT/High-Tech companies by providing infrastructure, resources and expertise.
The ISTC started its activities in 2014, in parallel with the construction of its permanent office. Located now on the campus of Yerevan State University, ISTC welcomed the guests at its new 1,000 square meter state-of-the-art premises, fully equipped with IBM’s latest technological base. The Center offers an innovative environment for startups, providing them with space and infrastructure, technical and business consulting, as well as networking opportunities.
“Enterprise Incubator Foundation pursuing IT development in the country, formation of innovative environment, quality personnel training, consistently initiates and implements a number of strategic projects. One of our most important achievements is the initiation of ISTC center. Thanks to this initiative international knowledge and financial resources will be available for Armenia, IT specialists will be trained in accordance with market requirements and local companies with have the chance to get involved in global networks”, said the director of Enterprise Incubator Foundation Bagrat Yengibaryan.
“I am proud of the fact that this uniquely designed partnership promotes the education of one of Armenia’s most valuable resources – its youth. The collaboration between the private sector and universities creates economic opportunities for younger generations of Armenia,” said U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr.
Supporting the development of Armenia’s IT sector has long been a priority of the U.S., Ambassador Mills said. “USAID support to the IT sector began a decade ago. Since that time, USAID has played an important role in laying the foundation for a strong and vibrant IT sector in Armenia,” he said during the opening. “We see the establishment of the Innovative Solutions and Technologies Center as a capstone achievement in our efforts to partner with you to develop and strengthen IT in Armenia.” Ambassador Mills also emphasized the Center’s important role of fostering cooperation between Armenian and U.S. institutions of higher education, noting that the ISTC has entered into collaboration agreements with U.S. universities such as Duke University, Fordham University, and Stanford University, among others,” Ambassador Mills said.
The ISTC serves students and university faculty, providing them with the latest hardware and software for training and research. Since the project’s launch, the ISTC has already assisted over 100 professors from nine major Armenian universities to improve their training courses, with more than 1500 students trained through 30 modernized curricula. Several new Master-degree programs in cutting edge technological areas have also been designed with local universities and will be launched in the next academic year.
Several new ISTC initiatives were announced, including the launch of the Joint Research Grant Program targeted towards the development of the R&D capacity of RA HEIs. Within the scope of the Program the grantees will have full access to the IBM cloud infrastructure, as well as will receive financial and research commercialization support. A new program targeted towards the exchange programs between US and RA universities was also communicated.
As the IBM University Relations Manager Sergey Belov noted, ISTC is a successful model of education and research, which cans serve as a base for future regional development for IBM. He said that the American University of Armenia and the Yerevan State University received the opportunity to have fully personalized new Academic Hubs inclusive of software and educational materials available for their students and professors.
On the margins of its grand opening event, ISTC also launched the Smarter Armenia Hackathon ’16, a two-day contest for students, challenging them to create the best IT solutions in finance, healthcare, and the telecoms industry.