European Union Initiative
Exchange of Entrepreneurs
Armenia | Public Journalism Club, The Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey
Public Journalism Club (PJC, Armenia) and the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV, Turkey) launch the "Exchange of Entrepreneurs" project within the framework of the programme “Support to the Armenia-Turkey Normalisation Process” financed by the European Union.

The "Exchange of Entrepreneurs" project aims to enable successful interaction between entrepreneurs involved in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), developers, designers, marketers, product managers and start-up enthusiasts from Armenia and Turkey and create new opportunities for cooperation amongst them.

The project includes a series of activities such as exchange visits, business meetings and roundtable discussions for entrepreneurs to be held in Armenia and Turkey. The activities will be focused on ICT entrepreneurial eco-systems of both countries. Delegations from both countries will visit leading ICT innovation centres and engineering laboratories, and will meet leaders in the ICT spheres.

The first stage of the project will take place in Yerevan and Gyumri, Armenia, on November 6-10, 2014. А group of 20 entrepreneurs selected through an open call, including representatives of investment funds, entrepreneurs, programmers, designers and other ICT sphere representatives as well as Startup Weekend facilitators from Turkey will visit Armenia.

Alongside with their Armenian peers, also selected through an open call, they will participate in the Startup Weekend, planned to take place in Yerevan and Gyumri, on November 7-9. During this weekend-long, hands-on experience participants will come together to share ideas, form teams, launch startup projects, build products, demo prototypes and find out if those projects are viable. A professional jury with members from both countries and representatives of well-known companies from the Silicon Valley will select the most outstanding projects. The top three selected projects will be singled out during an Award Ceremony. The jury members will also include entrepreneurs involved in investment projects, which will provide the participants a unique opportunity to attract funding for their innovative ideas and receive professional consultancy. In addition, entrepreneurs and investors from the Silicon Valley and other major entrepreneurial hubs will hold master classes during the Startup Weekend event.

As Karen Vardanyan, executive director of the Union of Information Technology Enterprises (Armenia) notes, “It is essential that we create a conducive environment for establishing enterprises, give opportunities to the youth for self-promotion and always be in the centre of these developments. Startup support events like the Startup Weekend are another format that contribute to their development since the young people are able to interact among their peers, find like-minded people, and learn from established entrepreneurs, their successes and their advice”.

"This event is a great opportunity for  investors from Turkey  to explore investment opportunities in the neighbouring markets and for  entrepreneurs from Turkey to explore new partnerships,",  said  Ussal Sahbaz, director of Entrepreneurship Department of the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV).

The Startup Weekend will be held simultaneously with Hackathon[YAN] 2014.  The HackathonYAN, a competition of innovative ideas and projects, is an initiative by the Public Journalism Club (PJC) and Microsoft Innovation Center Armenia (MIC Armenia), which is conducted in Armenia since 2011. Hackathon[YAN] 2014 will be organised by PJC, MIC Armenia in partnership with mLab ECA Regional Mobile Application Laboratory and will have a regional and international scope. The Startup Weekend, Hackathon[YAN]2014 and other related events will give the representatives of ICT sector an exclusive opportunity to expand their network,  establish new connections and find investments for their projects.

The 2nd study trip will take place in December 2014. A group of preselected 10 entrepreneurs from Armenia will visit Turkey. The Armenian delegation will take part in Insiders’ roundtable discussion event, visit leading ICT companies, innovation centres and engineering laboratories.

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