ArmTech Congress 2012: What you need to know (morning session)

The ArmTech Congress 2012 was held at Stanford University on December 10 and 11, 2012. It started with the idea of ‘learning from the past and inventing the future’ and was mostly devoted to Armenia’s economy, success stories of foreign investments and issues of high tech development. This was the fifth annual business forum that brought together over 140 executives from the high-tech industry, researchers, representatives of academia and the venture capital community, as well as senior government officials from Armenia such as the Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and Minister of Economy Tigran Davtyan.

In addition to  officially being launched at ArmTech, there were agreements signed between Armenia and Intel, IBM and Corporacion America (to establish a semiconductor product manufacturing operation and IT research and development center). The Armenian government also officially opened a representative office in Silicon Valley at the Plug and Play Technology Center.

Prime Minister Sargsyan at the Armenian Representation in Silicon Valley

“All previous conferences seem to have been a precursor for the fifth ArmTech. Today we managed to present the serious achievements of Armenia in the IT sphere. Here we have registered four significant achievements, which will have a positive impact,” said Sargsyan.

If you missed the conference, brings you a summary for some of the presentations and panels:

  • Opening ceremony. The Congress was started by Professor Anne Kiremidjian, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University.
  • Panel 1: high tech Industry in Armenia - recent developments and success stories. In this panel, Prime minister Tigran Sargsyan gave a speech regarding government development efforts for the Armenian IT industry, which was followed by questions from the moderator to industry heavyweights such as Jonh E. Davies (Vice President and General Manager of Intel), John Chilton (Vice President of Synopsys) and Thomas Huang (Vice President of D-Link). John A. Heffern also participated in this panel and demonstrated his enthusiasm with the developments of the Armenian IT industry. John Chilton from Synopsys, told us the story of Synopsys in Armenia: from entrance through the acquisitions of companies to developing tailored undergraduate programs in partnership with Armenian Universities. He also highlighted the main topics that make an attractive place for investment: (a) its economic culture, (b) stable & democratic government, (c) commitment to infrastructure and (d) technical culture.
  • Panel 2: research, innovation and professional management. In this panel, we had some very interesting presentations. It was moderated by Rich Goldman (Vice President Synopsys and CEO Synopsys Armenia). He presented this very interesting slide, regarding Armenia’s known disadvantages but also the advantages brought by a new “flat” world:
  • Panel 2 (cont): Mr. Goldman also highlighted the results of the unique educational model developed in partnership with Armenian Universities. Together they are producing employable Bachelor, Master and PhD graduates that are in high demand by the Armenian tech industry. The chart below summarizes their remarkable achievements:
  • Panel 2 (cont): Dr. Bruce Boghosian, President of the American University of Armenia presented the new Undergraduate programs to be launched in 2013: BA in English and Commmunications, BA in Business, BS in Computational Sciences and MS in Economics. He highlighted some startups developed from AUA students, such as Verium that focuses on cryptographic solutions to combat counterfeiting and identity theft. Other initiative is the ERC team that works on security solutions for Samsung Corporation. Lastly, he highlighted financial aid. AUA is a full-need and need-blind university: “No Armenian student admitted to AUA will ever be denied an AUA education because of inability to pay tuition.”
  • Panel 2 (cont): Joe Mastroianni, Director of Engineering at Mentor Graphics spoke about the company and briefed about the Mentor Graphic’s growth in Armenia. Today, the company has a headcount of approximately 100 people (as of 2012) composed of PhDs, MS/BS in CS, EE, Math and Physics that work in areas such as R&D, QA, Production, and  Marketing. Mr. Mastroianni also highlighted that Mentor Graphics has three divisions in Armenia: (a) Design To Silicon (D2S / Ponte), (b) Deep Sub-Micron (DSM), (c) Digital P&R (PRD). He also mentioned that the company has increased investments over the past two years with successful returns in (a) new product development, (b) customer support and (c ) mature product support. The company is expanding operations and will move to larger offices located at the Tumo Center in 2013.
  • Panel 2 (cont): Dr. Vasili Tsakanov, Director of the CANDLE (Center for Advancement of Natural Discoveries using Light Emission) Project spoke about the importance of the initiative and its strategic importance to Armenia. According to Dr. Tsakanov, “CANDLE is a world-class project enabling frontier research in a whole spectrum of basic and applied sciences. An excellent investment  from scientific-technical point of view”. It will allow R&D in a variety of sectors of a knowledge based economy: Material Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology and Mining, Micromechanics, Medicine and Microelectronics. Dr. Tsakanov also highlighted recent progress and showed the slide below regarding key factors for success and the benefits that it will bring:
  • Panel 2 (cont): Ms. Anahit Yeremian from the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Cosmic Ray Division and and the Support committee for Armenia’s Cosmic Ray Division spoke about the rise and fall of Armenian science and the challenges doing science in Armenia. Ms. Yeremian also brought to us the magnificent example of Prof. Ashot Chilingarian:

  • Panel 2 (cont): Ms. Yeva Hyusyan, Director of the Microsoft Innovation Center (interviewed in December - interview can be found here) briefed us about the Center, it’s activities and their how to create a lasting impact in a knowledge based economy:
  • Panel 2 (cont): Ms. Jacqueline Karaaslanian, Executive Director of the Luys Foundation talked about the mission, vision and actions taken by the Foundation. A truly remarkable holistic initiative that aims at promoting excellence in education & innovation and fostering socio-economic development. One of the highlights of the Foundation activities are scholarships. They allow Armenians around the world to access to top level, higher level education. Here are Ms. Karaaslanian’s amazing slides:

And this was the end of the morning session. In part two of our coverage, we will write about the afternoon panels:

Panel 3: Business Environment & Investment Opportunities

Panel 4: Looking Ahead: Challenges, Opportunities and Factors for Success.

Are you still interested? You can access the full presentations at the ArmTech Congress website.

The direct link to the presentations can be found here.

This post is also available in: Armenian