Something all countries are aiming for but only very few seem to be consequent with is education, specifically education in technology. Armenia, a small republic with a population of just under 3 million people has proven its determination and its success in preparing its youth for today’s and the future’s requirements of technology knowledge and skills.
Daniel Zurfluh, a senior expert in international technology service business gives us 4 examples of initiatives in Armenia that focus on tech education and that can be exemplary for other economies:
1. Distrikt in Gyumri, Armenia:
One of the big challenges for smaller cities like Gyumri is to attract and retain talented people to live and work there. The goal of the Distrikt is to build an attractive urban environment that will create job opportunities, offer good quality affordable housing and office space with sustainability in mind, brining and establishing new technologies, include sustainable farming and in general turn Gyumri into a globally leading community when it comes to innovation, provides decent and sustainable livelihood to its residents and has a positive socio-economic and environmental impact.
The Distrikt project, an initiative by private investors in collaboration with the city of Gyumri, aims to establish the first-of-its-kind residential district in Gyumri, the second largest city in Armenia. It will be a unique technology-based entrepreneurship ecosystem that fosters innovation, provides decent and sustainable livelihood to its residents and has a positive socio-economic and environmental impact on the city and beyond. The Distrikt is designed at the intersection of the following five vision elements: the Prosperous City, the Green City, the Integrated City, the Creative City, and the Technological City. More information about this cutting edge urban project can be found here: https://distrikt.am/.
2. TUMO in a box, Armenia:
You might not have heard of this Armenian educational export hit (Paris, Moscow, Berlin, Tirana) – TUMO Center for Creative Technologies. TUMO offers extracurricular, innovative education programs in design and technology, providing teenagers with the space and equipment to advance their education while developing technical skills. Teenagers us an in-house developed program to advance their skills on a self-learning path.
So to ensure that this exceptional program can reach every corner of Armenia and Artsakh and give every teen access to the TUMO program, the organization has started to build a network of 16 TUMO Hubs (Centers) and TUMO 25 boxes. TUMO Boxes will function as satellite TUMO centers wirelessly connected to larger TUMO centers. The TUMO Box is mobile and can easily be installed in any city or village, functioning as a self-learning center for local youth. Upon completing self-learning activities at their local TUMO Box, students will travel to the nearest TUMO branch for specialized workshops and project labs. For more information please visit: https://tumo.org/locations/.
3. COAF Smart Center, Armenia:
The Children of Armenia Fund’s Smart Center initiative is another effort with a decentralized approach for modern education. The initiative strives to advance a generation across rural Armenia through education, that will benefit individuals, the society and environment. The curriculum emphasizes novel teaching techniques, leveraging both project-based and action-based learning.
The COAF SMART model is designed to be replicated throughout Armenia. The current center in in the northern Armenian province of Lori, situated between a number of villages, is a technologically advanced and innovative education center where kids learn languages, computer skills, robotics, media literacy, design, music, agriculture and more. Education at SMART is provided at no cost and COAF also provides transportation between the villages and the SMART Center. The center also houses a boutique hotel, a visitor center providing regional tourism information and a will be augmented with a conference center and sport complex to make it a spectacular location for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) tourism. More information can be found here: https://www.coaf.org/en/smart-initiatives/.
4. Vanadzor Technology Center:
In 2016, few years after the 2nd largest city of Armenia, Gyumri, got its Technology Center (https://gtc.am/) successfully established, it was Vanadzor’s turn. After all it is the 3rd largest Armenian city and a major industrial hub in the northern region of Armenia.
The mission of the Center is to turn Vanadzor into a regional and international high-tech center by creating a dynamic environment of opportunities and services that will promote job creation, support talented youth and organizations with implementing innovative business ideas. The Center focuses on assisting technology companies in a variety of areas including business consultancy, mentoring, marketing and promotion, introduction to funding opportunities and the establishment of business connections to increase the competitiveness of Armenian companies in the global marketplace. More information can be found here: http://vtc.am/en/.
About the author: Daniel Zurfluh was born and raised in Switzerland where he received a federal degree as a Mechanical Design Engineer and a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Business Administration (Marketing) from the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts.
In the mid 1990s Daniel lived for one year in Armenia and later for 15 years in California with his Armenian wife. After a few years of living and working in Switzerland again he and his family moved to Armenia and since 2016 Daniel has been promoting Armenia’s high tech sphere in Switzerland, Germany and Austria (DACH) as well as other countries. He works as an independent sales consultant and in this role collaborates closely with the management and the sales teams of a few selected Armenian software houses (from about 10 to 300 employees) that offer development and IT management services, data science and analytics consulting. Besides that he is also involved in promoting Armenian made IT products for the markets he covers. Daniel builds and nurtures relationships to potential and existing clients (established ones and startups) in order to support them by creating long term value for them through fruitful collaborations with Armenian IT companies.
Daniel is an avid connector and helps to foster collaboration within the Armenian economic sphere as well as connecting that sphere to the corresponding ones in the DACH region especially through his involvement with the German Business Association in Armenia.
Cover: Background by Alexandr Hovhannisyan on Unsplash. Other pictures: Screenshots from the respective websites