On May 5th the winners of the application process for Innovation Matching Grants (IMG) and Science and Technology Entrepreneurship program (STEP) grant schemes were announced – as a result of 2-day pitching events where the 38 shortlisted startup teams and companies participated and pitched their innovative ideas and projects.
The “Innovation Matching Grant” (IMG) and “Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Programme” (STEP) competitions were announced by the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (SMEDA) project, co-funded by the EU and implemented by GIZ. SMEDA is part of the EU4Business and EU4Innovation initiatives of the European Union. The grant schemes are implemented in cooperation with the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF). Both, IMG and STEP aim at promoting entrepreneurship and advancing innovative technology-based ideas in Armenia and to help startup teams, innovators, scientists, engineers, researchers, and entrepreneurs to move their products to the market, create new ventures, and promote innovation and entrepreneurship in Armenia.
Ten winners were announced for the IMG competition. These winners will be now further accompanied by international experts in preparing their project to receive funding from 30,000 – 50,000 EUR to transform their ground-breaking ideas into real products.
For the STEP competition five winners were announced, who will equally be accompanied to prepare their projects in order to receive funding of up to EUR 15,000 to engage actively into the realization of their scientific and technology oriented project.
Before the final stage of competitions coaching and mentorship was provided to the applicant teams and companies by international and local experts active in entrepreneurship development and investments. This support will be ongoing for the winners in the form of mentorship, networking with potential investors, assisting with commercialization strategies and analyses of innovative products, etc.
Mrs. Eva Naeher, SMEDA team leader mentioned that around 90 applicants had applied to both competitions and tremendous work had been carried out with them by SMEDA and EIF with guidance, mentorship and then in selection and evaluation stages that resulted in successful collaboration with a vision for future expansion of competitions.
Mr. Bagrat Yengibaryan, EIF director, mentioned that EIF has adopted the function of creating startups and has already supported more than 250 teams and startups in Armenia. Now, with the aim of supporting beginners in the fields of engineering, clean and high technologies, EIF in cooperation with SMEDA will implement Innovation Matching Grants competition and Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program (STEP) during 2017-2019.
Mr. Peer Priewich, SMEDA technical advisor recalled all the stages of both competitions starting from the info sessions, guidance, boot camps and preparing the startups for the pitching. “Special thanks to the jury for their careful attention to 38 pitches during these last two days and valuable advice to the startups” he concluded.
As to the advice by the jury it was mentioned that Armenian startups need to improve and practice their pitching skills in general. The ideas and projects presented to a jury or an investor should be technically viable, project teams should be “coachable” and constructive and open to advice.
One of the judges Mr. Christian Schellenberger from Berlinern Strategen GmbH, added: “There were some super inspiring great products, and amazing presentations – and they won. Those who did not win have also benefited from the process, as they learnt, improved their skills and gained valuable connections, which should enable them to better and more efficiently engage in future competitions”.
The winning stratups of IMG competition are:
- Volterman Smart Wallet
- FPGA Key Value Database for IoT
The winning startups of STEP competition are:
- Financial Tech
- CNC Machine line
- One – Click key
- Custom I/O modules for NI my RIO and ElvisRIO platforms
- CDM for Education, Based on New Generation Optical Element