The COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide lockdowns, and many other challenges might have temporarily interrupted, but not prevented the sustainability of the successful annual ‘Science and Technology Convergence Conference’ (STCC), which came back to Yerevan in September 2022 highlighting the event’s successful formula.
What is STCC?
The EaPConnect project partner from Armenia, the Institute of Informatics and Automation Problems of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, and the Catalyst Foundation (an initiative of SmartGate VC founders) developed the concept of the ‘Science and Technology Convergence Conference’ (STCC). With the support of EU4Business “Innovative Tourism and Technology Development for Armenia” project within the framework of Science and Technology Convergence Platform (STCP), the conference aims to advance the potential of Armenia around applied and fundamental research, and stimulate collaboration between knowledge-based companies and the academic community.
The primary goal of the conference is to promote the knowledge exchange between academia and industry to strengthen the cooperation and innovation transfer from research labs to industry with the ultimate objective to boost the economy of Armenia. The conference agenda covered broad topics in two intensive days of presentations and panel discussions.
STCC22 is a place that brings together professors and researchers from high-ranked universities and research labs, scientists from both local and international tech corporations and established start-ups, government representatives, members of the international donor community and science-related funding programmes. The conference brings together representatives of major Armenian and international stakeholders to address the issues that are essential to scientific research and technology transfer activities.
STCC22 was a remarkable event: it attracted more than 400 participants and 70 speakers (40 local and 30 international) and involved over 30 organisations, and as a result, the dedicated poster sessions featured more than 80 posters!
“One of the principal outcomes of STCC is new collaborative initiatives with the industry,” says Sergey Abrahamyan, who is also one of the conference organisers and a scientist from IIAP.
EU Ambassador Andrea Wiktorin welcomed the conference participants. In answer to our question about what brought her back to STCC and the secret of the event’s success, she replied
You make it sustainable; the time has come for all initiatives like this to become sustainable, and you have succeeded with your event.
Former President of San José State University, and an experienced high education specialist, Dr. Mary Papazian stressed the importance of the sense of security in planning and the role of fundamental science. “The innovation and start-ups sound cool, but fundamental science remains fundamental. The government, the diaspora, the research community and the industry should try to come together, talk together and work together. Because the government, before investing, would need to be involved in defining research proposals, the strategy and include them in the agenda.”
Many speakers stressed the importance of fundamental science and research for the economy. “Strong research today is strong economy tomorrow,” said Aram Papoyan, Director at the Institute for Physical Research of NAS RA, during the panel discussion on the role of public research institutes in the modern R&D ecosystem.
Leonid Kirakosyan, partner at McKinsey & Company, while talking about the digital transformation of Armenia, noted, “We are more a global service hub, rather than an innovation centre. Although there is no easy solution, planes are landing now, and they bring with them more digital talent than ever.”
The experts, delving into different focus areas of the conference such as physics, engineering, computational biology, space, AI, computer vision and many others, talked about the challenges in the identification of opportunities for Armenia’s science. These areas will boost the country’s economy in the long term.