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Connecting Armenia’s Regions with Technology to Ensure Greater Opportunities for Young People

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Photo: Arevik Badalyan/World Bank

Just over two months ago, an economist, an IT specialist, a historian and a linguist teamed up at the Vanadzor Technology Center to establish a startup for developing mobile applications. Their first creation, “Digital Menu”, is an app that will help customers in restaurants and cafes to choose dishes and pay online, and it has already started attracting potential clients.

Irina Ghazazyan, a former historian, is the team lead and the driving force behind the startup. She describes how her life has taken a whole new direction since the opening of the Vanadzor Technology Center in late 2016. “We learned programming, set up our own venture, and found space for work and business opportunities,” says Irina.

Vanadzor is the third largest city in northern Armenia and the capital of Lori province. Like other urban areas beyond the country’s capital Yerevan, the city has suffered from industrial decline. Today, its landscape blighted by a huge Soviet-era chemical plant, Vanadzor experiences especially high rates of poverty and long-term youth unemployment.

Patvakan Hakhinyan left Yerevan for Vanadzor some years ago and is today the Business Development Manager for Vanadzor Technology Center. He proudly shows visitors the Center’s labs, shares success stories, and outlines the opportunities that the Center provides to the young generation in Lori region.

“It was obvious that the Center would become an educational hub that offered consultations and workshops, and would house startups and businesses,” says Patvakan. “We are changing the profile of Vanadzor by filling the gap in the quality of IT education and providing new prospects in the city and the region.”

So far, eight companies have opened their offices at the Center, their work ranging from IT to architecture.

“Our training courses are identifying more and more young talent, although the companies that want to open in Vanadzor are also looking for professionals with experience. We need time and patience, but we are on the right track,” says Patvakan.

Hi-Tech Gateway is one of the pioneer companies at the Center. A branch of the American company, ConnectTo, it focuses on research and creating new technologies for the market. Svetlana Jaghatspanian, the company’s team leader, says that the possibilities and services provided by the Center can really help their business to grow. They have hired 30 people so far, while another 8 will be employed soon.

“The Center is unique for Vanadzor, as it is where young people can put their dreams into action,” Svetlana says.

Each month, around 40 people participate in training sessions at the Vanadzor Technology Center. In addition to the trainers based there, professional trainers travel to Vanadzor from Yerevan – they discuss market requirements with participants and outline the knowledge and skills required for employability. The young students are so focused and attentive, they even turn off their phones for a while!

Omni Code, another growing company, provides web services and hosts workshops and training courses. “After our classes, four people got jobs, and seven more will join us in the next round,” says Yuri Virabyan, co-founder of Omni Code.

The Vanadzor Technology Center is open to anyone who is creative and wants to grow professionally – people like Babken Mkhitaryan and Arman Vardanyan, each of whom has a space and a computer at the Center. “We are working on an app that will connect taxi services to their customers,” says Babken. “This will be a more competitive, multifunctional and comprehensive app than the ones currently available on the market.”

The Center is a safe, supportive and fun environment where young people can come together as a community to learn and explore opportunities for future employment. Starting from the age of 10, children can learn the basics of programming. Almost 3,000 students from the region have so far attended these classes.

Vahe Aloyan is a 16-year-old high school student and he also works for the company X-Tech. A true polyglot, he knows eight programming languages. At the age of 14, Vahe designed his first game and won a contest organized by the Vanadzor Technology Center. His second game won an award for best design.

“My desire is to work for a company that produces only games,” Vahe says. “But my biggest dream is to see the gaming industry in Armenia fully developed and supporting the economy.”

In Shirak region, the Gyumri Technology Center (GTC), established four years ago with support from the World Bank’s E-Society and Innovation for Competitiveness project, has been very successful. Currently, the GTC houses 28 companies with over 200 employees and up to 2,000 students, and has business connections with over 10 countries. It is not a local phenomenon, but a regional IT hub.

The Vanadzor Technology Center could follow the same path to success.

Both Technology Centers demonstrate the empowerment of regional development beyond the capital city, and wide-ranging decentralization of the IT industry to the provinces. The right mix of skills and talent is being created locally and nationally, through investments that are economically and socially rewarding.

Source: World Bank

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China, UNIDO collaborate to support the first China International Import Expo

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China will host the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) from November 5 to 10, 2018, in Shanghai, in cooperation with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and other international organizations.

Today, a project document was signed by UNIDO Director General LI Yong, and the Minister Counsellor YAO Shenhong of the Permanent Mission of China. UNIDO will assist relevant departments of the Government of China to organize the China International Import Expo, in order to promote international cooperation, facilitate imports to China from all countries and regions around the world, and increase the awareness and participation of the public and private sectors.

This project will contribute to increasing exports from other developing countries, middle-income countries (MICs) and least developed countries (LDCs), and promote their SME development by organizing international trade forums and exhibitions related to agro-industry value chain and high-end intelligent manufacturing.

“The objectives of the Expo are in line with UNIDO’s mandate and support the realization of Sustainable Development Goals 9 and 17,” said Li, “The CIIE will promote international cooperation and facilitate imports to China from the entire world, and will thus contribute to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable industrial development (ISID) and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Minister Counsellor YAO Shenhong of the Permanent Mission of China stated, “The CIIE is an important move for the Chinese government to give firm support to trade liberalization and actively open the Chinese market to the world. We believe that, with this project, UNIDO’s expertise and experience will significantly contribute to the success of the Expo. We also sincerely welcome all stakeholders across the world to participate in CIIE and to explore the Chinese market.

UNIDO and CIIE will establish a mechanism for long-term cooperation that will include the launching of UNIDO investment-related reports, the sharing of results of the UNIDO Programmes for Country Partnership, and the fostering of the development of SMEs, for example through e-commerce. Environmental sustainability will be one of the core issues.

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First Global Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition Launched

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The World Tourism Organization and Basque Culinary Center (BCC), have launched a pioneering initiative for the gastronomic tourism sector, with a global call for startups or companies, mature or emerging, technological and non-technological, with innovative ideas capable of revolutionizing and integrating gastronomy in tourism and inspiring tourists with new ways and reasons to travel.

The gastronomic tourism sector is moving towards innovation and the diversification of its offerings. UNWTO, in collaboration with its Affiliated Member, Basque Culinary Center (BCC), has launched the 1st UNWTO Gastronomy Tourism Startup Competition, the first and largest initiative in the world dedicated to identifying new companies that will lead the transformation of the gastronomic tourism sector.

Intangible cultural heritage has become the decisive factor that attracts and captivates tourists. Gastronomy tourism, as a component and vehicle of culture and tradition, is an indispensable resource that adds value and provides solutions for destinations that seek to stand out through unique product offerings.

The Competition will make it possible to identify the best solutions and projects that contribute the most to the sector through pioneering proposals in the implementation of emerging and disruptive technologies, as well as emerging companies or startups. It aims to identify challenges and projects, and to catalyse innovations that can transform the Gastronomy Tourism sector in the near future.

“Innovation and tourism investments are not ends in themselves, but are means to promote better tourism products, improve tourism governance and harness its proven capability to foster sustainability, create jobs and generate opportunities,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

“Education and innovation are essential for the development of sustainable gastronomic tourism. At Basque Culinary Center, we support entrepreneurship and the development of new business projects to ensure the future of the sector. In this regard, we are proud to once again team up with our partners at UNWTO in order to continue fostering entrepreneurship and innovation linked to gastronomy tourism through this initiative,” said Joxe Mari Aizega, General Manager of Basque Culinary Center.

UNWTO and Basque Culinary Center have entrusted the process of finding startups to BCC Innovation through its Culinary Action! programme, which has accelerated nearly 50 startups by providing innovative, sustainable and high added value solutions to the gastronomy value chain.

Sustainability and technology

Startups are invited to pitch business models that are related to sustainability, respect the value chain, offer an authentic and coherent narrative, and add value to cultural and local heritage.

The winners of this competition will have the opportunity to present their projects at the 5th World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism (2-3 May 2019, San Sebastián, Spain), with the possibility of receiving personalized consulting and mentoring from the BCC experts  of project accelerator Culinary Action!

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Eurasian Research on Modern China-Eurasia Conference

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October 26-27, 2018,National Academy of Sciences, Armenia.

Address: Marshal Bagramyan 24, Yerevan, Armenia.

Organizers:“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia,Institute of Oriental Studies,National Academy of Sciences, Armeniaand Department of Oriental Studies, ISEC, National Academy of Sciences, Armenia.

Supported by:“Transport Project Implementation Organization” SNCO,Armenia,“Diplomatic Foundation of Armenia” and “Modern Diplomacy”, Greece.

Table of Contents

(English Language Panels)

  • Panel 1։ China and Eurasian Economics
  • Panel 2։China’s One Belt, One Road and the World
  • Panel 3։ China and One Belt One Road Initiative
  • Panel 4։ China, Eurasia and Politics
  • Panel 5: The History of Interaction between China and Eurasia
  • Panel 6։ China and the South Caucasus
  • Panel 7:China and Eurasia (International Relations)

October 26, 2018

Welcome Address (11:00-11:30)

Panel 1: (English Language). China and Eurasian Economics(11:45-13:40)

Ma Bin, (Fudan University, China), “Railway Express between China and EU:New Model of International Transportation or Traditional tool of Economic Growth?”.

Connor Judge (SOAS, University of London, Great Britain), “Competing Narratives for Chinese Investment: Serbia and Mongolia”.

Srdjan Uljevic, (American University of Central Asia, Kyrgyz Republic),

“India’s Foreign Policy in the Age of China’s Dominance in Asia”.

Arjun Chapagain, June Wang, Linda Che-lan Li, (City University of Hong, China),

“The Trans-Himalayan Trade of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants: AGeo-Historical Political Lens”.

Anna Zalinyan, (Armenia), “Peculiaritiesbetween China and European Countries on Public Administration Reforms”.

Key note Speech 13:40-14:00

Zachary Paikin (University of Kent, Great Britain, Senior Editor at Global Brief Magazine)

“The Future of Liberal Order: Russia-China Relations and Eurasian Consequences”.

October 26, 2018 (11:50-12:30)

Panel 2: (Russian Language) China’s One Belt, One Road and the World-Панель 2 Китайская инициативаОдин пояс, один путь и мир

AnatolyTsvyk, (RUDN University, Russia),

“The EU and OBOR: Mutual Benefit or Competition?” / ЦвыкАнатолий. (Российский университет дружбы народов, Россия).«Европейский союз и инициатива «Один пояс, один путь»: взаимная выгода или конкуренция?».

Konstantin Tasits,(Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia),

“Sino-Georgian Economic Relations in Modern Era”. Тасиц Константин. (Российский институт стратегических исследований Россия).  «Экономические отношения Грузии и Китая на современном этапе».

Coffee/Pastries (14:00-14:30)

October 26, 2018

Panel 3։ (English Language) China and One Belt One Road Initiative (14:30-17:00)

Jukka Aukia, (University of Turku, Finland),

“Belt and Road: the Baltic States within the 16+1”.

Uzma Siraj,(Federal Urdu University Islamabad, Pakistan),

“Eastern Europe Between Constraints, Coercion, and Opportunities: BRI and China Challenging Russia and EU in their Backyard”.

Mher Sahakyan, (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Armenia).

“China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and Armenia”.

Ma Xiaoyun, (Party School of CPC Tongling Municipal Committee, China),

“OBOR and China’s Midland Open Economy Development-A Case Study on Anhui”.

Gabriel de Rezende Piccinini, Alena Vysotskaya Guedes Vieira(University of Minho, Portugal),

“The Eurasian Economic Union and the One Belt, One Road Initiative: how Brazil and the European Union See It”.

Clayton HazvineiVhumbunu, (University of KwaZulu-Natal, Republic of South Africa).

“The Economic Impact of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative on Eurasia”.

Ani Hakhverdyan (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia), “The Energy Silk Road”.

October 26 (17:20) ****Drinks and Pizza (Reception).

October 27

Panel 4։ (English Language) China, Eurasia and Politics(10:00-12:20)

Anahit Parzyan, (“China-Eurasia” Council for Political and Strategic Research, Foundation, Armenia), “Some aspects of Digitalization of China”.

Maximilian Ohle, (Nankai University), Richard J. Cook, (Nankai University), Zhaoying Han, (Nankai University China, the Editor-in-Chief of the Nankai Journal),

“China’s Engagement with Kazakhstan and Russia’s Zugzwang: Why is Astana Incurring Regional Power Hedging?”

Izabella Muradyan, (Chinese Centre Culture and Science, Armenia),

“Geo-Economic Cooperation with China under One Belt, One Road Initiative: Armenian Keys from EAEU”.

Luiza Grigoryan, (European University in Armenia),

“China and the Brics”.

October 27, 2018 (10:00-11:20)

Panel 5: (Russian Language) The History of Interaction between China and Eurasia-Панель 5. Историясношения (Китай-Евразия)

Sergey Kozlovsky, (The Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Ukraine), “The Theory and genesis of Pax Sinica”/КозловскийСергей. (Львовский национальный университет имени Ивана ФранкоУкраина). «Теория фронтира и генезис PaxSinicia».

KhusnutdinovaLiailia, (Ufa State Petroleum Technological University, Russia), “On Historical Aspect of Chinese nation in Republic of Bashkortostan”. /ХуснутдиноваЛяйля. (Уфимский государственный нефтяной технический университет. Россия).«К проблеме истории Китайского народа в Республике Башкортостан».

Coffee/Pastries (12:30-13:00)

Panel 6: (English Language)China and South Caucasus (13:10-14:30)

Vakhtang Charaia,(Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Georgia),

“Trade and Investment between South Caucasus, China and EU”.

Gabriela Radu, (Strategic Analyst,Romania),

“Foreign Direct Investment Trends in the Southern Caucasus”.

Saren Abgaryan. (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China),

“China-Armenia Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in the Context of Chinese Evolving BIT Practice and Jurisprudence”.

October 27 (11:20-12:30)

Панель 7. (Russian Language)КитайиЕвразия (Внешняяполитика)- China and Eurasia (International Relations)

Andranik Hovhannisyan, (Russian-Armenian University, Armenia), “The Pivot towards Asia: Perspectives of Formation of Asian NATO”. /ОваннисянАндраник(Российско-Армянскийуниверситет, Армения).«ПовороткАзии: перспективыформирования «АзиатскогоНАТО»».

OganesyanArusyak, (RUDN University, Russia), “The Role of Eastern Asia in China’s Foreign Policy”. /ОганесянАрусяк.(Российский университет дружбы народов, Россия).«Роль Восточной Азии в современной китайской внешней политике».

KhubrikovaBadma, (BuryatStateUniversity, Russia), “SoftPowerintheEraofXiJinping”. /ХубриковБадма, Бурятскийгосударственныйуниверситет.

«Мягкая сила» в эпоху Си Цзиньпина».

October 27 (15:00) ****Drinks and Pizza (Reception).

National Academy of Sciencesis in the Center of the city, in the front of National Assembly of Armenia.Address: Marshal Bagramyan 24, Yerevan, Armenia.

Nearest Subway station is “Marshal Bagramyan”.

Working languages in different panels are English or Russian.

All audience members are required to register for the conference. Please contact info@chinastan.org

Conference Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/ChinaEurasiacouncil/ and

https://www.facebook.com/DiscoverChinastan/

Conference Website:

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