- April 21, 2022
- Posted by: EBAN Team
- Category: News
Armenia is a landlocked country in South Caucasus with scant natural resources, but with a plan to become an epicentre for scientific and technological advancement.
Sharing a strong belief that the country’s prosperity and sustainable future lies in its scientific and technological advancement, 5 years ago the Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) was established with a pioneering agenda: an Innovative Armenia taking its seat at the table of top 10 global innovator nations and a top 5 Data Science and Artificial Intelligence innovator by 2041 – its 50th independence anniversary.
The in-house research and strategic outlook developed by the FAST team provided not only the evidentiary basis for FAST’s projections for Armenia’s technological leapfrogging potential but offered a toolkit of interventions designed to set the trajectory for Innovative Armenia 2041. More insights on where Armenia is and what FAST’s vision for the country’s technological leapfrog is can be found here.
To ensure this, FAST carries out a wide range of initiatives aimed at bringing changes based on the following three main pillars of the science ecosystem – Education, Research, and Commercialisation. Since 2017 FAST has implemented over 31 programs that impacted more than 6,000 beneficiaries, including students, researchers, and entrepreneurs.
Boosting entrepreneurship in Armenia is a crucial part of the FAST’s activities.
Recognizing the critical need to boost scientific commercialization in Armenia, FAST has placed a heavy focus on creating programs that will help build science-intensive innovation and also ensure pre-seed funding for companies created through this pipeline.
The Foundation has pioneered the establishment of a business angel network in the country by creating the Science and Technology Angels Network (STAN). Founded in 2018 with 18 angels, it now has 37 business angels from 5 countries. STAN has joined the European Business Angels Network (EBAN) in 2018. STAN focuses on science-intensive startups providing special room to startups offering AI solutions. The Network offers not only financing but also coaching and mentorship by sharing their experience and knowledge with young founders. FAST also implements incubation and acceleration programs to help create a pool of science-intensive startups and strengthen the deal sourcing in the country.
STAN invested 400K USD in science startups with a focus on AI technologies.
In recent years STAN made investments in 7 early-stage science-intensive startups. Some of the startup stories in STAN’s portfolio can be found below.
Denovo Sciences is a drug discovery company that uses its end-to-end AI platform to create first-in-class therapeutics against any disease with a known target. The startup has established joint drug discovery projects with world-class laboratories and scientific institutions including Emory University and the University of San Diego. They have generated new antiviral drug candidates against mutant types of influenza and are currently working to publish the results in a peer-reviewed journal. The startup was one of the top 25 finalists of the Entrepreneurship World Cup in 2021 selected from 100,000 applicants and 400 competing startups worldwide.
Grovf, one of the investee companies, develops solutions for application acceleration and network offload using FPGA programmable chips. Since the investment in the startup by the STAN in 2020, it became a leading company in the chip-design industry in the region of CIS thanks to its team having unique domain knowledge and expertise. Currently, the startup is in the M&A deal process with a peer company targeting to go to the next funding round afterward.
Dowork.ai, a data-driven AI-powered project estimation platform, designs a project management solution that learns from past projects, takes into account industry benchmarks, and helps its users to get project estimates in a breeze with minimized risk of biased estimates. STAN invested in Dowork in 2020. Now, the startup has more than 1500 users, 50+ paying customers, and good publicity on the platforms like AppSumo and ProductHunt, becoming the #1 Product of the Day on Product Hunt on May 6, 2021. Currently, the team is focused on accelerating the growth of the user base and raising the next round of funding.
2022 marks the 5th anniversary of FAST!
As 2022 marks the 5th anniversary of FAST and the organization scales up its programs, STAN is one of the core initiatives that is moving toward expansion. To broaden the community of angels from abroad, FAST has hosted a Meet & Greet in Los Angeles on April 1, 2022. The meeting was held right after FAST’s inaugural Advance Armenia Gala which took place on March 31, 2022, with hundreds of distinguished thought leaders, visionaries, and entrepreneurs in attendance. Through everyone’s contributions, $1.4 million were raised that will benefit the Armenian researchers through FAST’s ADVANCE STEM research grant program. To mark its anniversary the Foundation is planning to host various events throughout the whole year.
In the next 5 years, the Foundation is moving toward scaling its core programs and launching new initiatives that will help Armenia see more unicorns and also join the big race of developing excellence in Artificial Intelligence.
Invest in Armenia, Transform the Future.