Development awards for winners of tourism hackathon in Armenia

In the fly - winners of the contest

The three winners of the hackathon aimed at generating innovative ideas for tourism in Armenia have been announced by the jury at the Vanadzor Technology Centre (VTC) in Armenia’s Lori Region, at the end of an event supported by the EU-funded SMEDA project for support to SME development in Armenia, in partnership with VTC and the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF).

The SMEDA project granted awards of 2,000,000 AMD, 1,000,000 AMD and 750,000 AMD to the respective winners, to be provided for the development of proposed solutions to form a viable business through support via professional services.

The announcement came after 49 teams pitched their ideas and prototypes before the jury.

“The teams have done a tremendous job, all the ideas were wonderful and would really benefit the development of tourism in the regions. However, we have to select the three best ones,” announced Deputy Minister of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies Amalya Yeghoyan, who was part of the jury.

The winning teams were:

1st place - In the fly (Fly tour) from Gyumri 
‘In the fly’ offers tours via drone through the gorgeous landscapes of the Shirak and Lori Regions of Armenia, expanding to other regions of Armenia in the future. The remote-controlled planes equipped with video cameras will enable tourists to view from high altitude historical and cultural monuments, as well as areas of outstanding natural beauty like canyons, lakes and forests. The team plans to use remote-control eyeglasses to make the virtual trip even more impressive. Upon request, master classes will be offered to tourists to develop a simple model of a plane and take them as a gift. This is a great solution for tourists with disabilities and difficulties in mobility but wishing to actively explore and experience the life of a traveller. In particular the technology convinced and impressed the jury as it is a new technology in Armenia and the idea may help to boost the tourism in regions.

2nd place - Destination from Vanadzor
Destination offers a location-based solution for tourists who do not want to spend their money on expensive tour packages or personal guides. All must-see sights like historical buildings, churches, galleries, castles, parks, and monuments will be integrated in this interactive map. But what is more interesting and innovative is the second layer of the app, which will let tourists transform an ordinary trip into an interactive and fun quest game (so called "mission"). There are different kinds of missions such as extreme, hiking, food tasting, bicycle-only and many other mixed-type missions for different preferences. Tourists will compete with each other trying to complete as many missions possible to win prizes. The team has already developed a prototype version for Android OS and is currently working on the production version to enter the market and start operating in Armenia and Georgia with future plans to expand to other countries. Since the quest "missions" are currently designed at regional level, this is another innovative way to attract and increase the tourist flow to Armenia. 

3rd place - Hi Traveller from Vanadzor
Hi Traveller offers a pocket guide mobile app with full information to plan a trip, with all possible routes, hotels and hostels, restaurants and eateries, entertainment places, and useful local information. The app helps to choose from existing internal trips within the country and it is possible to customise them as preferred. Moreover, the app is offered in three languages, presented by native speakers with information on historical places and sights of Armenia. The tourist will be able to use it to take photos, short videos and share with comments via social media. The SOS button within the app will enable the tourist to turn to 911 services if needed. In other words, Hi Traveller enables to play the lead role in the trip, making it fun, less costly and safe.

Additional prizes were granted to the best idea for tourism development by the Lori Regional Administration to the Boo Mountain Bike Park team from Yerevan who will be working on a project in Vanadzor, while the Enterprise Incubator Foundation awarded the Octopus team from Yerevan for the best tech solution.

It is planned to hold the hackathon annually and expand it throughout all regions of Armenia.

The EU4Business SMEDA project supports the improvement of the business and investment climate for SMEs in Armenia. It aims to strengthen the private sector, support SME coordination mechanisms, and foster links between research institutions and the private sector, as well as providing access to finance for SMEs.