EPIC Launches New Global Entrepreneurship Network Initiatives

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Startup Huddle Yerevan

YEREVAN, Armenia — On September 29, the Entrepreneurship and Product Innovation Center (EPIC) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) launched Startup Huddle Yerevan. Startup Huddle is a unique format developed and promoted by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), currently embraced by 65 cities worldwide. It is specially designed to inspire startups and stimulate community building within the local startup ecosystem. 

Thirty participants from the local ecosystem took part in the Startup Huddle inaugural event, a networking breakfast hosted by EPIC in collaboration with five partners: Granatus Ventures, Science & Technology Angels Network, BANA Angels, HeroHouse, and Eqwefy.

The event started with welcoming remarks by Nejdeh Hovanessian, assistant director of EPIC and representative of GEN. Next was Anna Khachatryan, host of Startup Huddle Yerevan, who introduced the Startup Huddle format and elaborated on its goals and structure. Then, she gave the floor to two startup founders, Armin Saidi of Viciniti and Aram Jivanyan of Firo, to present their business ventures and the challenges they faced. Aside from the presentations, there was a lively exchange among the participants on the day’s topic, “Navigating the Storm: Tales of Resilience.”

“Although it was the first time that the Startup Huddle format was used in Yerevan, the participants’ engagement level was encouraging and reinforced the notion that this format has good potential in the Armenian ecosystem for building a dynamic community. As the host of Startup Huddle Yerevan, I am excited with the prospect of similar monthly huddles!” affirmed Khachatryan.

EPIC plans to organize Startup Huddle Yerevan regularly every last Thursday or Friday of the month. The next session is scheduled for Friday, October 27. Startup founders interested in presenting at this event or simply participating in it can submit their applications through Startup Huddle Yerevan’s official webpage.

Global Entrepreneurship Congress, Melbourne, Australia

On a global level, on September 19-22, EPIC participated in the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) 2023 in Melbourne, Australia, represented by its Assistant Director Nejdeh Hovanessian. GEC is the annual gathering of GEN that brings together thousands of participants from over 200 countries, creating a global platform for networking, learning, and sharing. By fostering deeper cross-border collaboration among entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers, and support organizations, GEN contributes to promoting healthier startup ecosystems worldwide, educating individuals, accelerating innovation, creating new jobs, and strengthening economic growth.

At the Congress, Hovanessian was a speaker at the Entrepreneurship World Cup summit, where he presented “Mobilizing the EWC Community and Showcasing Startups at the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).” In his remarks, Hovanessian discussed EPIC’s initiative of mobilizing the Armenian ecosystem to foster entrepreneurship and encourage entrepreneurs across the country through organized GEW Armenia events.

Hovanessian also represented Armenia at the GEW and Startup Huddle summits, initiating such participation for the first time in Armenia. Moreover, further expanding EPIC’s affiliation with GEN and enhancing its ties with the GEN global team, the Congress presented a unique opportunity to network and establish new contacts with members of the global entrepreneurship community, spanning Australia to Nepal and Iraq to South America.

At the Congress, Hovanessian had the unique opportunity to meet Gary Schoeniger, founder and CEO of the Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative, whose entrepreneurial mindset education methodology has served as a foundation for the EPIC STRIVE pre-incubator program. Schoeniger was very impressed learning about the STRIVE program outcomes and offered to work with EPIC to develop a case study about STRIVE for dissemination worldwide. 

As in previous years, the GEN Compass Award Ceremony was one of the highlights of the Congress. Sadly, this year’s ceremony coincided with the catastrophic situation in Armenia and Artsakh. Hovanessian recounts, “During this year’s award presentation, when GEN Chairman of the BoardJeff Hoffman was on stage to announce the award in the Inspiration + Resilience category (in which AUA EPIC was a nominee in 2022) before a packed audience, he started with remarks about the heartbreaking situation in Armenia and Artsakh. It was a touching speech by a legendary global serial entrepreneur pronounced on the evening of Armenian Independence Day. His remarks were especially meaningful as several representatives from the neighboring hostile countries were right there sitting in the banquet hall.” 

The winner in that award category was UNDP Syria for implementing meaningful programs, such as the Entrepreneurship World Cup, to support entrepreneurs across Syria and encourage founders to pursue their dreams despite armed conflict, political unrest, the global pandemic, and multiple socio-economic challenges that have persisted for more than a decade in that country.

Global Entrepreneurship Week Armenia 2023 

The Global Entrepreneurship Week Armenia 2023 promises to be an exciting event. EPIC, as national coordinator of the Entrepreneurship World Cup and representative of GEN in Armenia, will organize a nationwide celebration of entrepreneurship scheduled for November 13-19, celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week Armenia 2023. 

“GEW is a very ambitious program that takes place around the world during this same week. EPIC is impressed by the large number of local entrepreneurship community members who want to support this initiative and join us in celebration of entrepreneurship in Armenia,” says Prof. Michael Kouchakdjian, director of EPIC.

GEW 2023 will feature about twenty events and activities, including conferences, training, workshops, competitions, panel discussions, and talks. A dozen organizations have officially come forth as co-organizers of GEW in Armenia in response to EPIC’s invitation to co-host this major event.

GEW Armenia 2023 will designate each day of the week to a specific aspect of entrepreneurship, such as “Entrepreneurship and Innovation,” “Entrepreneurship and Education,” and “Entrepreneurship and Society,” showcasing the colorful pallet of entrepreneurship opportunities in Armenia and engaging and inspiring the participants. In addition to Yerevan, activities are also planned for Gyumri and the Syunik region.

The motto of GEW Armenia 2023 is Celebrating and Empowering Entrepreneurship. Those interested in participating are encouraged to monitor the EPIC homepage and social media channels for further updates and information.

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.

Media Coverage:

[Gen Global] EPIC Launches New GEN Initiatives in Armenia