Society 14:45 11/12/2023 World

Forbes names Armenia 'tech powerhouse'

Armenia has emerged as a tech powerhouse with the presence of global players and a vibrant startup ecosystem, Craig S. Smith says in an article published by Forbes.

"And while the country remains politically close to Russia and Iran as a counterbalance to hostile neighbors on the west (Turkey) and the east (Azerbaijan), its private sector remains firmly fixed on the West, particularly the United States with its near million-strong Armenian diaspora," he claims.

The author states that people like Noubar Afeyan, co-founder of biotechnology powerhouse Moderna, Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit and Avie Tevanian, former CTO of Apple and creator of the macOS operating system have all remained connected to the country.

“In October, Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen was in the vibrant capital Yereven to speak at the country’s Silicon Mountains conference and open a new Adobe building. Across town, dozens of startups displayed their innovations at the annual Digitec expo. Already, the small, landlocked country has produced one unicorn (Picsart) with more on the way,” Smith writes.

“With the snowcapped summit of distant Mount Ararat – the Armenian national symbol that rises across the border in Turkey – visible on clear days, Yerevan is filled with sophisticated restaurants crowded with tables of young tech entrepreneurs drinking apricot brandy and eating platters of stuffed grape leaves as they discuss the latest innovations."

Forbes claims various indexes show Armenia as the emerging tech powerhouse of the Southern Caucasus region, a legacy of its role as one of the Soviet Union’s top technology centers – the USSR’s first general-purpose computers were developed there in the early 1960s.

“That history faltered during the breakup of the Union and the subsequent war with Azerbaijan to define Armenia’s national borders – a conflict that continues to reverberate today. But, Armenia recovered and has drawn on the success of its diaspora in the United States to become one of the strongest economies in the region,” Smith pens.

"Following its independence in 1991, Armenia began developing as a behind-the-scenes builder of software for Western companies, many founded by Armenians. But gradually, it has climbed the value chain to produce products of its own.

"That trend only accelerated with the outbreak of Russia’s war with Ukraine which drove companies from both countries to relocate to Yerevan. The subsequent influx of capital drove up the Armenian dram against the dollar, hurting the competitiveness of the country’s outsource industry. Meanwhile, a small venture capital industry coalesced to fund tech development and today startups can raise as much as $1 million domestically before turning to VCs abroad.

"Consequently, the country’s economy is booming – with projected 7 percent growth this year, according to the International Monetary Fund, making it the fastest growing economy in the region.

“The tech industry is now the country’s the fastest-growing sector, expanding by more than 30 percent in 2023, surpassing resource extraction and agriculture as the primary drivers of the economy. And it is drawing foreign investment. Besides Adobe, many of the world’s most powerful technology firms have set up shop there, including Microsoft, Google, IBM and Cisco,” reads the article.

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