Participants in the Technovation Armenian 2019 ceremony

Technovation Armenia 2019 Program Concludes with Awards

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YEREVAN – Technovation Armenia 2019 held its award ceremony in June. This was the third year of this program organized in Armenia by the Women and Information Society NGO and the National Institute of Education in Armenia. It allows schoolgirls to create mobile applications addressing social issues in their communities. Since 2017, over 122 such apps have been developed by program participants, and over 242 teams from villages, towns and cities from all provinces of Armenia have participated, using the App Inventor program developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The under-representation of women in information and communications technology (ICT), especially in managerial positions and decision-making processes in Armenia is clear. The Woman and Information Society NGO works to change that through education in all of Armenia’s provinces. Its founder and president Narine Abazian declared, “We do not have the right to lose the talent of women in ICT. Women’s empowerment in ICT guarantees women’s financial stability, which serves the prosperity of the country.” Her NGO initiated Technovation Armenia in 2017. Technovation is the world’s largest technology entrepreneurship competition for schoolgirls. Its introduction to Armenia granted girls a chance to reveal their potential using MIT’s online program.

Technovation Armenia produced success stories, even during the first year of the program. In 2017, the One Step Ahead girls’ team from the Vahan Tekeyan School in Karbi village (which is one of the five schools in Armenia and Artsakh supported by the Sponsor a Teacher Program of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the United States and Canada) received the international grand prize for its Armenian sign language application in the category of education, and was invited to Silicon Valley to participate in the international awards ceremony.

The next year, in 2018, one of the semifinalist teams, Codice Puellis, was nominated as a winner in the Sevan Startup Summit 2018 for the app “1 of U,” which was created for children with autism. Afterwards, the team became the European Youth Award 2018 Finalist.

In Technovation Armenia 2019, 420 schoolgirls and 93 mentors were registered from all over Armenia, forming 91 teams. Of these, 51 teams reached the semi-final phase in Armenia. There were four winning senior teams, sponsored by the company Service Titan, and three junior teams, sponsored by Synopsys Armenia. President of Synopsys Armenia, Technovation Armenia Good Will Ambassador Yervant Zorian and the Director of Synopsys Armenia CJSC and Chair of the Executive Board of the State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA) Hovik Musayelyan congratulated the teams and handed them financial awards to further develop the mobile applications. All seven teams received participation tickets to the international competition.

Regional Grand Prize winning team sponsored by Synopsys Armenia with President of Synopsys Armenia, Technovation Armenia Good Will Ambassador Yervant Zorian, far left, and Director of Synopsys Armenia CJSC and Chair of the Executive Board of the State Engineering University of Armenia (SEUA) Hovik Musayelyan, far right

The acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Armenia Robert Anderson greeted the participants of the ceremony and extended to them US Ambassador to Armenia Lynn M. Tracy’s message and best wishes to the program participants. Furthermore, Executive Director at UEICT (Union of Employers of Information and Communication Technologies) Edward Musayelyan in his greeting speech emphasized and valued highly the hard work performed by the teams and expressed his willingness to support the teams in the future through mentorship and counselling.

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Together4Armenia and Raffi Simonian

In 2018, the Women and Information Society NGO received a grant from the European Union funded Bringing Real Impact with Diaspora and Global Engagement (Bridge4CSOs) launched by the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) to implement Technovation Armenia 2018 and became a Together4Armenia beneficiary.

Together4Armenia Armenian-American expert Raffi Simonian, with rich experience in Internet technology both as a programmer and a business management supervisor, has been collaborating with the Woman and Information Society NGO online. The latter’s president and founder, Narine Abazian, said that these discussions have been significant for the NGO. They led to Simonian joining the team of judges for Technovation Armenia 2019. In addition to evaluating the submission packages of the teams for the competition, he shared his experience and expertise with the teams for further development of their mobile applications.

The online discussions also laid the foundation for partnership with a large American company called Service Titan. The company was founded by American-Armenians Vahe Kuzoyan and Ara Mahdesyan and has become the world’s leading all-in-one software for home service businesses.

Partnership with Service Titan

The 2019 prizes were awarded by the head of Service Titan’s Armenia office Ashot Tonoyan. He delivered a message from his company’s co-founder Vahe Kuzoyan to all the participants and highlighted the importance of the Technovation program for Armenia. Kuzoyan in his video message shared his life experiences and encouraged the girls to challenge themselves and open up the magical world of technology. He said women should have their place in the development of their communities.

Ashot Tonoyan of Service Titan, left, with one of the winning senior teams sponsored by Service Titan

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As Kuzoyan said in one of his interviews, “Our roots are in Armenia and it’s really important for us to not only have a presence here, but to invest in the community. Our intention is to contribute to the education of the labor force and provide opportunities so the best talent doesn’t have to leave the country.”

Vahe Kuzoyan video screening

The Service Titan Armenia office expressed its readiness to mentor the teams by share=ing skills and practice with Technovation Armenia participants to empower and motivate them to pursue their career in the IT sector.

Kuzoyan hopes to create an environment and culture in Armenia that is an extension of Service Titan’s US operation, which provides competitive compensation and several benefits and perks to employees, and the dedication to helping people find long-lasting careers. Another goal is to help develop the Armenian tech workforce so the country does not suffer from a shortage of talent.

Participants at the Technovation Armenia 2019 ceremony

Technovation Armenia 2019 supporters

Technovation Armenia 2019 was financed by a grant from the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the US Department of State through the US Embassy in Yerevan and supported by the Service Titan company, Synopsis Armenia Company, Union of Employers of Information and Communication Technologies, the UN Office in Armenia, Unicomp Company, the American University of Armenia, Enterprise Incubator Foundation, Physmath school, Ararat bank, Volterman company and Onex company.

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