Tire recycling to produce fuel, biodegradable water absorbent to save water, a highly efficient solar concentrator, and a technology to produce energy without combustion nor emissions – these are just a few of the projects promoted by the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme for SMEs in Armenia (GCIP-Armenia), which today showcased its achievements and presented the results of threeyears of work to the partners and participants of the Programme at the official closing event.
Mr. Mark Draeck, Industrial Development Officer of the Department of Energy, UNIDO Headquarters, noted that the aim of theCleantechProgrammewas to link economic growth to innovation with employment as a sustainable way to address the adverse impact of climate change. To this end,GCIP has taken the first steps towards creating an innovative cleantech ecosystem in Armeniato support innovative cleantech business ideas and startups, and turn them into viable businesses.
During the event, representatives of startups that were among the winners of the GCIP-Armenia National Business Ideas Competition, presented their technologies to the participants: “Ecotechnology” has developed a water absorbent that allows for a reduction in the usage of irrigation water by up to 60 percent; “NanoHi” presented a new, cheap, and safe technology to produce graphenenanopowder; and “Biofuel” extracts hydrogen from alcohol waste. These are just a few of the teams that were selected as winners of the GCIP-Armenia National Business Ideas Competition over the past three years, and received grants to further develop their technologies.
In order to continue supporting Cleantech innovators in Armenia, UNIDO and the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) have signed an agreement so that GCIP-Armenia will continue to operate under the guidance of the EIF, the Programme’snational partner. Mr. BagratYengibaryan, the Director of the EIF, remarked that EIF was giving priority to such a project because of three major factors:“Firstly, because “Cleantech” is one of the first initiatives in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency and waste management in Armenia to support startup companies and entrepreneurs through provision of grants and promotion of their technologies outside of Armenia. Secondly, the project has been strategically based in Gyumri, at the GyumriTechnology Center. And thirdly, Cleantech is one of the important and strategic areas of focus for future innovation in Armenia.”
The Closing Event showcased short videos presenting the achievements and the process of the Acceleration Programme, as well as the success stories of the participant startups, to more than 100 participants, among which were high level representatives of the partner Ministries, international organizations and embassies in Yerevan.
In February 2013, Armenia became the first country in Eastern Europe to start the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). Within the course of its 3 year activities the Programme has organized two cycles of the competition-based Cleantech Startup Acceleration Programme. In total around 60 startup teams participated in the Acceleration Programme, 15 of which received grants to develop their innovative cleantech business ideas. In addition, to further develop the cleantech startup ecosystem in Armenia, GCIP launched the “Innovative Business Ideas Generation and Entrepreneurship” training programme for university students in which a total of around 300 students from the universities in Gyumri, Yerevan State University and National Polytechnic University of Armenia participated. Fifty five (55) student startup teams were developed, of which 11 participated in the GCIP-Armenia National Business Ideas Competition.