YEREVAN—Advanced cooperation between the IT sectors of Armenia and California was discussed last week during a meeting held between the ANC-WR led California Legislative and Trade Delegation and Armenia’s First Deputy Minister of Transport, Communication, and Information Technologies.
On September 11, the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region California Delegation held an extremely productive meeting with Hakob Arshakyan, First Deputy Minister of Transport, Communication, and Information Technologies where the two sides shared the current conditions of their respective IT sectors and discussed ways to increase in the number of start-ups in Armenia as well as ways to increase the talent in the IT sector.
During the meeting, California State Senator Anthony Portantino welcomed the young new government and expressed readiness to support Armenian companies especially in the IT sector. In turn, First Deputy Minister Arshakyan discussed the work that was being done towards the creation of a National Venture Fund to engage interest in the Diaspora to help guide start-ups in Armenia. He added that currently, the ministry is in talks with foreign donors and local investors in order to create a model that will attract startup companies from around the world.
First Deputy Minister Arshakyan also explained that it would be beneficial to establish exchange programs where startup companies in Armenia could receive training and work with startup companies in the Silicon Valley. Inviting professors from the diaspora to teach courses about business startups and information technologies was also discussed.
During the meeting, Vice-President of Global Public Policy & Strategic Communications for Postmates, Inc., Vikrum Aiyer proposed an “Entrepeneur in Residence Fellowship” program which was instituted during the Obama Administration to address the challenge of a lack of tech talent in government by providing 6-month tours of duty for tech experts to identify and solve tech shortcomings in government systems.
Meanwhile, California State Assemblymember Autumn Burke stressed the importance of direct flights between Los Angeles and Yerevan and offered her assistance with the next steps. The Deputy Minister offered to put her in touch directly with the Head of the National Aviation Agency to propose next steps.
As talks about the tax codes arose, California State Senator Henry Stern noted that it’s important to establish tax policies that welcome foreign IT companies to Armenia. In turn, Deputy Minister Arshakyan explained that the tax policies are currently being worked on in order to ensure a favorable environment for both domestic and foreign investors.
Overall, the delegation highlighted the importance of collaboration between the Republic of Armenia and California, especially with Armenians from Glendale given its significant Armenian population and assured the ministry that they are ready to support.