A round table discussion titled “Getting to Know Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in Armenia and Turkey: Exploring Collaboration Opportunities” was held on November 6, at 16:00 at the VIP auditorium of Elite Plaza Business Hotel (Yerevan, Khorenatsi 15). The round table kicked off the “Exchange of Entrepreneurs” Project jointly organised by the Public Journalism Club and the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) within the framework of the programme ‘‘Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process’’ funded by the European Union. The project aims to help ICT representatives from Turkey to form an understanding of the ICT sector in Armenia and explore opportunities for collaboration.
The round table discussion hosted over 60 participants including established entrepreneurs and investors, ICT experts and top executives from Armenia, Turkey and the U.S. as well as startup entrepreneurs.
Seda Muradyan, president of the Public Journalism Club (Armenia) and Ussal Şahbaz, representative of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) opened the event as the representatives of implementing organisations.
Seda Muradyan said "This is first large scale industry to industry exchange project, and we are hoping that it will create a foundation for future collaboration prospects. We are trying to build "human pipeline" between these spheres, and to activate interest among neighbours towards entrepreneurial ecosystems, which can lead to better regional integration".
Ussal Şahbaz noted "Technology entrepreneurs in any part of the world speak the same language. They try, fail, and try again. Our delegation is a first trial to open a new venue in people-to-people exchanges between Armenia and Turkey. We are proud to bring the largest technology entrepreneurship delegation from Turkey ever to Armenia. We expect this visit to pave the way for new collaborations to create more jobs and increase the mutual understanding on both sides of the border".
The Head of the European Union Delegation to Armenia, Ambassador Traian Hristea and the U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Heffern delivered welcoming remarks.
Ambassador Traian Hristea emphasized the support of the EU for civil society initiatives contributing to dialogue and contacts for the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Turkey. "This exchange is novel in bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, executives and start-ups representing new technologies in both countries and the first opportunity for such industry to industry exchange," he noted.
Ambassador John Heffern emphasized the fact that the initiative was a joint one between Armenia and Turkey and that it is supported both by the European Union and the U.S. Embassy. He said he hoped the participants can become the living prove of the reality that there are more similarities than differences. between the two countries and cultures.
The round table discussion featured two panels. The first one focused on ICT industry in Armenia and state support to the sector, while the second one looked into new technologies as an opportunity and related issues of education, social entrepreneurship and others.
The panellists included Karen Vardanyan, head of Union of IT Enterprises (UITE), Bagrat Yengibaryan, director of the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF), Manuk Hergnyan, managing partner of Granatus Ventures, Yeva Hyusyan, head of Microsoft Armenia, Nazareth Seferyan, a Corporate Social Responsibility Expert, Marina Mkhitaryan head of UNDP’s innovative Colba Lab, Serob Khacatryan, a professor of Philosophy at the Yerevan State University and an education expert and Artashes Vardanyan, head of Microsoft Innovation Centre’s acceleration program.
Representative of the delegation from Turkey Numan Numan, Director at 212 and Erhan Erkut, Vice-Rector and Dean at MEF University also spoke at the discussion.
On September 13, 2018, Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development (UFSD) hosted a workshop on “Exchange of Best Practices in Plastic Waste Management between Armenia- and Turkey-based CSOs and Practitioners.” The workshop is part of a project that contributes to the development of cooperation between environmentalists, waste management practitioners, businesses and local authorities of Armenia and Turkey through sharing best practices in plastic waste management. The grantee, Urban Foundation for Sustainable Development in partnership with the Union of Diyarbakir Young Businessmen organized a 1-day workshop in Diyarbakir with participation of 20 representatives of local authorities, plastic waste management practitioners, environmental CSOs, businesses in the field of plastic waste separation and recycling from Armenia and Turkey. The workshop was followed by a study visit to Plastic Waste Recycling Plant in Diyarbakir, as well as a follow-up exchange workshop in Yerevan. Based on the results of the study visit and workshops UFSD will produce a booklet on the best practices of plastic waste management in Armenia and Turkey. The project will result in an increased awareness of stakeholders of the plastic waste management practiced on the other side of the border, as well as will provide an opportunity for networking between practitioners and businesses focusing on plastic waste management. Representatives of local authorities may consider replicating the best practices in plastic waste management in their own communities.
This activity took place within the framework of the Sub-grants Scheme implemented by Eurasia Partnership Foundation as part of the “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalization Process” programme, funded by the European Union and the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.