Armenia Is Making A Lot Of Progress And There Are Huge Opportunities Here

Armenia is making a lot of progress in IT and there have been a lot of the reforms in recent years – economic reforms, anti corruption measures – and there are huge opportunities, deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy Chip Laitinen told News.am Tech on the sidelines of the Silicon Mountains Tech Summit 2023 held in Yerevan on October 17.

“And I think that’s important. There’s more that can be done and again, this is something that we as an embassy are trying to work on. One example is that, we’re helping to draft cybercrime legislation. So it’s a program through our Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, where we’re helping to bring in experts and working with locals and judges and others to make sure that we have draft legislation,” he said.

Another program is implemented through Commercial Law Development Program, where the US is  helping to work on intellectual property rights and to expand the use of that. “I think it’s something that historically hasn’t had as much attention here but if you’re going to develop in the tech sector, then any company that’s going to invest, wants to know that their intellectual property is going to be protected,” he added.

Asked about Armenia’s potential in making innovations as a local motif for its economic development Chip Laitinen said that the economic growth of the recent years, the expansion of the technology sector are all indicative of that.

“We’re already seeing it here, the double digit growth that you’ve seen in recent years, and the expansion of the tech sector. So I think there’s huge opportunities,” he said, adding that however all those opportunities should not be concentrated only in Yerevan but also in the regions.

Further, he said that in Armenia the US implements programs targeting various areas, among them are the Armenia Workforce Development Activity program by USAID, programs miplemented with Synopsys, with National Instruments, IBM and others to help in bridging the divide between the skills that a lot of people come out of school with and what the companies need.

“But it goes beyond that, certainly our public affairs team works in education areas, whether it’s the FLEX program that operates at the high school level, or Fulbright Scholars that are more for at the graduate level or even we have some great programs, International Visitor Leadership Program for professionals going to the US in specific areas, sometimes tech and some of those,” he said, adding that another program relates to teaching English language in the technology sector.

Asked whether IT and innovations are incorporated in the Armenian government system enough to make a difference, Chip Laitinen said that it is priority for the government which recognizes it and there is a lot of conversations with the government to see how they can work more closely on in these areas.

“So I think, they recognize it. Even in the US … some communities are better than others in terms of how advanced they are and how they’re doing it. But I think it’s important that the government recognizes this, the central bank governor was on the stage. And he’s one of the leads in really understanding the importance of the digital economy and bringing that into government functions. So I’m encouraged by what we’re seeing,” Chip Laintinen said.