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Government should respond very quickly to challenges of technology sector – UATE Executive Director

armenpress.am05/26th/2022, 7:24
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Government should respond very quickly to challenges of technology sector – UATE Executive Director

The professional potential arriving from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus has a strategic importance for Armenia’s technology sector.

In an interview to ARMENPRESS, Executive Director of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises of Armenia (UATE), former minister of high technological industry, Hayk Chobanyan, said that the inflow of specialists to Armenia outlined the gaps and problems in a number of directions, which, he notes, the government needs to respond quickly. According to him, all conditions and opportunities should be created for holding the tech specialists in Armenia in a long-run.

-Mr. Chobanyan, during the recent congress of the Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises the results of the works done so far in different directions were summed up. Could you please tell us what are going to be the Union’s priorities taking into account the achievements and the challenges?

-The past one year was an interesting strategic period for the field taking into account the post-war situation. The Union has developed its new strategy, outlined directions which could contribute to Armenia’s recovery. The first direction was again education and the discovery of labor force. This is the reason why the Union’s most large-scale and big projects are directed to education sector. Since 2012 we have entered schools and created engineering laboratories. The youth of our educational programs are already entering the labor market or decide to connect their future with scientific-research activity. Armath educational laboratories comprise the main base in this value chain, their number is over 600, and around 18,000 students are already studying there. Most of them immediately start working in sectoral companies, and the 10-12% establish their own companies.

The next strategic direction is security, which in its turn involves several directions. The first one is the military industry. It is important to consider the following factors for the development of the military industry in Armenia. Military industry is a branch of industry and it cannot develop if there is no development of a general industry in the country. In this case we talk not only about the engineering solutions, but also the production capacities which means development or more correctly restoration of the high technological production. We almost do not have production capacities for servicing the military industry. In this sense creating such infrastructure is a priority.

The next one is the unity of military industrial enterprises, the capacity development, the promotion of their solutions and productions, as well as the creation of a co-existence between them. After the 2016 April War such a platform was created, and we were gathering the companies working in this direction around this platform. Today, in cooperation with the government, we should make a new re-launch on this direction in order to have a different system in several years and introduce new mechanisms for the financing of the military industry.

The next direction is the science development, e-governance or digitization programs. In the past 10 years no significant changes have been made in this respect, and there is again need for a re-launch here. The last direction is the positioning of Armenia in international technological field, its branding in terms of high technologies. Now we are engaged in these issues.

-As the minister stated at the congress, the use of latest technological solutions in all directions of economy is a vital demand today. In your view, to what extent are we succeeding in this respect? In which spheres do we have success, maybe the banking, the financial sector?

-This is an important observation. Of course, there are fields where the use of technologies is more critical, such as healthcare and services. There are sectors where the use of technologies is still weak, for example, agriculture, but we know that the use of technological innovations is the most serious tool to multiply the opportunities of this field. There is a challenge for us in this sense as well.

Yes, you mentioned right that the banking sector, is, perhaps, one of the advanced directions in terms of applying digital technologies, however, recently some problems were revealed especially after the arrival of Russians to Armenia. They complain a lot from our banking services. We understood that we still have a lot to do in this direction. For many years I have worked in digitization sector, I really believe that almost no movements have been made in this direction in the past decade. The years of 2008-2012 have been the most active period of the digitization process in Armenia and now we need to restore it. Armenia’s opportunities in this respect are much greater thanks to the existing high-tech industry. If there are countries whose alternative is just to import different solutions from abroad, in Armenia’s case, these tools and automations could be done thanks to the efforts of local companies.

-You talked about challenges. Let’s speak about the developments connected with the Russia-Ukraine situation. Many companies and specialists from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are moving to other countries. What is the picture on IT companies and specialists who moved to Armenia? What problems were revealed after their arrival?

-Relocation in IT sector is not something new. This sector is in constant movement, to more developed and less risky markets. For instance, a year ago such process started in Belarus when internal procedures changed, and Georgia quickly reacted and as a result increased the IT volume in its economy. I don’t know why but we are more restrained in these matters. There is competition, countries are in line and want to maximally use the professional potential. I think that from the view of creating respective tools Armenia is reacting quite slowly, because the changes, the legislative, legal ones, existing in Armenia are not compatible with the terms proposed by Georgia and Uzbekistan.

The second problem, which is much more critical is that we do not have a strategic position on this issue because as I said relocation is a regularly happening process. Today people arrive ...

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