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AUA Students to Participate in EPIC/HIVE Silicon Valley Industry Tour

3 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — The Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) recently concluded the selection of students to participate in the EPIC/HIVE Silicon Valley Industry Trek in June. The 10-day program will expose the participants to the global center for high technology, innovation, and investment. The program is organized by EPIC in collaboration with HIVE Ventures, one of the first Armenian venture capitalists, whose mission is to catalyze the global Armenian tech ecosystem by investing in startups led by Armenian entrepreneurs around the world. 

In partnership with San Jose State University (SJSU), a dozen students will visit cutting-edge technology companies, interact with entrepreneurs, and participate in workshops and seminars with world leaders in innovation, business, and the tech ecosystem. Students will learn about innovative concepts in both technology and business entrepreneurship, as well as meet and network with diasporan Armenian business leaders, startup founders, and peers. The program is made possible through a grant from the H. Hovnanian Family Foundation.

“Investing in the next generation of Armenian entrepreneurs starts with education and exposure to cutting edge technology and businesses. We are excited to host this group of talented students in Silicon Valley and introduce them to some of the most promising technology companies,” remarks Nina Achadjian, partner at Index Ventures.

Many of the selected students are graduates of various EPIC programs, including the EPIC Incubator and STRIVE, some of whom have launched their own startups. In addition, the trekkers will include top performing students in computer and data science from AUA’s Akian College of Science and Engineering, students from the Manoogian Simone College of Business and Economics, and also a student from the Politics and Governance program. More than half of the group are female students.

“It will be an intense 10 days of memorable learning experiences for our students,” says Professor Michael Kouchakdjian, director of EPIC. “EPIC first hosted a Silicon Valley trek in 2019, before the pandemic. That summer, in addition to presentations and workshops on leading-edge topics, such as the sharing economy, disruptive innovation, big data, machine learning, and the Internet of things, we had organized meetings with the Innovation group at PayPal, the Disruptive technologies team at Google, and a fascinating presentation on the future of artificial intelligence at NVIDIA, among others. I anticipate this summer’s program will surpass 2019.”

This trip is being carefully designed in partnership with HIVE and SJSU to enrich and foster knowledge and growth among Armenia’s future entrepreneurs and tech leaders. This will be a first time trip to Silicon Valley for all of the students in the group and will provide them with opportunities to network and advance their vision for the future.

Karina Harutyunyan (BAB ‘23), who is working to establish one of the first equity-based crowdfunding startup platforms in Armenia, anticipates some of the benefits from the trek, “As a person working in a startup, this trek was a dream come true for me. While during our classes at AUA I have read case studies of U.S. business success stories, I cannot wait to interact with their technical and professional staff to better understand how they work, and of course, share the concepts of their success with my Armenian peers. I am sure that one day, the startup I’m currently working on will reach such heights.”

The Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) is a platform of the American University of Armenia (AUA) for promoting entrepreneurial education, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and startup venture incubation. EPIC provides an ecosystem for emerging entrepreneurs consisting of first-class facilities and collaborative workspace, programs and events, and a network of mentors, advisors, and investors. EPIC fosters the understanding and application of entrepreneurship in students and faculty at AUA to craft high-impact multidisciplinary ventures.