ArmInfo. Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) and Support to SME Development in Armenia (SMEDA) program have announced launch of grant competitions, aimed at boosting entrepreneurship and innovations in science and technology sector. The grants will be provided between 2017 and 2019, applications can be submitted till February 5 2017, Director of EIF Bagrat Yengibaryan stated at the press conference on December 14.
According to him two grant programs will be implemented: Innovation Matching Grant competition and grants within Scientific-Technological Entrepreneurship Program (STEP). The projects duration is maximum 12 months. Within the first competition 18 winners will be announced, each of them will receive grant from EUR 30.000 to EUR 50.000. Within STEP program 10 grants will be financed each by EUR 15 thousand.
"Beside international jury representatives of accelerators and incubators from Europe and venture investors will be present at the competition, who will follow the teams and may become interested in the projects providing financing", Yengibaryan noted adding that due to the competition the entrepreneurs get an opportunity not only to receive a grant but also present their ideas to investors.
In a talk to ArmInfo's correspondent Director of EIF stated that within STEP competition special focus will be paid to engineering. "By combining IT and engineering Armenia will get a chance to become a center of high technologies in the region", he considers. According to him the competition will boost development of engineering in Armenia. Yengibaryan stated that as of today this sector covers only 1% in GDP, however due to this competition he hopes that the share of engineering will grow to 5-6%.
According to Yengibaryan the top-priority task for today is improvement of business environment and increase of the level of education. Particularly, in this context Yengibaryan considers that tax benefits should be provided to start-ups as it is practiced in the countries similar to our country by their scale (Israel, Singapore, Finland), where this model of development has led to positive changes for business sector. "We do not have such resources and capacities as the USA in order to invest and invite specialists. But we can use tax benefits for our start-ups and if it seems risky we could start from regions. And most importantly we should believe and not create obstacles for each other in our activities", Yengibaryan noted.
To note, Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) is one of the largest technology business incubators and IT development agencies in the region, operating in Yerevan, Armenia. Established in 2002 by the Armenian government within the framework of the World Bank's "Enterprise Incubator" project, EIF is called to support the development of information and communication technology sector in Armenia through creating a productive environment for innovation, technological advancement and company growth. During a press conference on December 12 Yengibaryan informed that the number of IT companies has reached 540 in 2016 involving 16 000 specialists in the sector. Turnover in Armenia's IT sector made more than USD 500 million in 2016, and the sector's share in GDP totaled 6%.