NerUzh 2.0 Invites Diaspora-Armenian Startups to Thriving Tech Scene

DILIJAN—Diaspora-Armenian entrepreneurs from 20 countries converged on the Armenian mountain resort town of Dilijan this week, representing 47 tech startups at NerUzh 2.0. The program, which includes a startup boot camp, mentorship sessions, networking events as well as panel discussions started on Monday the 16th and will last until the 20th of December.

Armenia’s burgeoning tech sector has been a promising example of the country’s recent economic growth, expanding at double-digit rates for almost a decade. Armenia’s Minister of High Tech-Industry and NerUzh partner Hakob Arshakyan reports the IT sector expanded by a whopping 33 percent in 2018. Much of this growth has been anchored around the opening of major research and development branches in Armenia by global tech giants including Microsoft, Oracle and National Instruments. The diaspora has also heavily invested in the country’s indigenous startup ecosystem, which has seen some notable successes lately. The minister says Diasporan Armenians have registered some 45 tech companies in the last several years.

The NerUzh Diaspora Tech Startup Program was successfully piloted last year as a means of attracting Diaspora tech and business talent back to the homeland. “Neruzh” in Armenian means “potential,” but it is also a play on words, which directly translated means “internal strength.” The program also received a boost from Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, who visited the entrepreneurs on Tuesday. Repatriation and technology have been among the most commonly-heard refrains from the Prime Minister. This event combines both.

In 2018, the first iteration of Neruzh became the flagship project hailed by the newly-restaffed Ministry of Diaspora as a bold statement of Armenia’s commitment to reengaging with its far-flung diaspora following the decade of perceived cynical indifference that characterized the previous administration. Program organizers have stated the following goals: to enrich the Armenian startup ecosystem by promoting the inflow of innovative, scalable tech startups from the Diaspora and to leverage the Diaspora’s transcontinental networks, in order to, lastly, position Armenia as a gateway for deploying and scaling-up impactful technologies to global markets.

The NerUzh Tech Startup Program is designed to introduce diaspora entrepreneurs to the possibilities of basing their startups in Armenia and familiarize them with the country’s business practices as well as the local ecosystem. The organizers hope that this sort of cross-pollination of the Diaspora’s cosmopolitan business experience and local savoir-faire would be mutually beneficial for both sorts of participants as well as the country as a whole.

Source: Yerakouyn

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