Karin Markides and Vahagn Khachaturyan 1
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Armenia’s Technology Future on the Agenda

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YEREVAN, Armenia — On October 28, 2021, the American University of Armenia (AUA) hosted the Minister of High-Tech Industry of the Republic of Armenia (RA), Vahagn Khachaturyan. Welcoming the minister and his team at the University were AUA President Dr. Karin Markides, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Brian Ellison, and Vice President of Operations Ashot Ghazaryan. The discussion centered on topics related to Armenia’s Technology Future (ATF), the Black Sea Universities Network (BSUN), the Manoogian Simone Research Fund (MSRF), and the Public Development and Research Fund (PDRF).

Congratulating Khachaturyan on his recent appointment, President Markides presented her vision for the role of AUA to help the Armenian society prosper. She reviewed the progress made on the ATF initiative, which aims to advance the country’s technological infrastructure. The initiative has five focus directions that were established through interviews with key stakeholders. They are: creating a national network of centers in Artificial Intelligence (AI) research; developing leadership and governance; building capacity in regional clusters; enhancing STEM education based on project-based learning; and boosting the innovation process. Minister Khachaturyan noted that the identified five areas are among the priorities that the Ministry of High-Tech Industry is currently focusing on within the realm of cybersecurity and digitization. He emphasized the role of education in these fields and the need to improve the overall system of education in Armenia.

“We are eager to collaborate with the Ministry and build capacity to strengthen the field of science and engineering. AUA is keen on moving into the direction of digital transformation, in collaboration with local and international clusters. AUA can be the junction where other stakeholders would come together to address complex challenges. Through our reality labs, we can solve issues related to digital transformation, energy, transportation, circular waste management, responsible mining, to name a few,” remarked Dr. Markides. “As the newly elected President of the BSUN Executive Board, I will do my best to engage more stakeholders and use this opportunity to open doors for more collaboration in the region.”

Next on the agenda were the MSRF, supported by the Manoogian Simone Foundation, and the PDRF, supported by the Swedish Government. President Markides noted that AUA is responsible for the administration of those funds. She mentioned that the past projects conducted within the framework of these programs have been very successful and have received positive feedback from respective ministries. “All the PDRF projects and most of the MSRF projects are now completed,” stated Dr. Markides. “However, there is a possibility to get more funding to ensure the continuation of these programs. In order for that to happen, the Government must update the list of priority areas and appoint a new representative that will join the panel as liaison, to ensure the implementation of the ministries’ projected research interests and research outputs.”

At the conclusion of the meeting, President Markides and Minister Khachaturyan restated their readiness to collaborate on future projects of mutual interest.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.