The financing of SMEs and start-ups in Armenia was the theme of an EU Investment Week held from 2 to 5 May.The week kicked off with the EU4Business SMEDA (Support to SME Development in Armenia) project organising visits to start-ups and innovative companies on 2 May.
Armenia-Turkey Investor Day
An Armenia-Turkey Investor Day was also held on the first day, promoting links between start-ups and comparing investment ecosystems, laws and best practices as part of the EU-supported normalisation process between the two countries. Around 80 representatives of venture capital and investment funds, start-ups, technology business incubators, experts, representatives of foreign missions participated. The event promoted the establishment of an angel investment network in Armenia, as well as supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystems in both countries by connecting business angels with entrepreneurs to build lasting and profitable collaborations.
Investment attraction best practices
A conference on Foreign Direct Investment was held at the Marriott Hotel in Yerevan on the morning of 3 May, at which the success of the EU-funded twinning project, "Strengthening the Investment Promotion and Investment Policy Institutional Framework of Armenia”, was celebrated in a closing ceremony for the project.
In the 16 months of the twinning project, implemented by French government FDI and export development agency Business France, 20 French experts introduced investment attraction best practices to their Armenian counterparts, while in February 2017 the Development Foundation of Armenia (DFA) held a one-week investment outreach mission to tree major cities in France : Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Within the mission, the DFA had 25 meetings with targeted companies. In addition, 3 investment conferences were organised, 136 contacts established and 11 investment projects identified.
Nurturing innovative growth
Also on 3 May, around 100 representatives of private and public sectors, business associations, SMEs, and individual entrepreneurs, attended an afternoon-long conference, “Nurturing Innovative Growth in Armenia”, to learn about possible financing opportunities. This event was organised by SMEDA(Support to SME Development in Armenia, co-funded by the European Union and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), within the framework of the EU4Business initiative together with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
The conference discussed the ecosystem for start-ups in Armenia, as well as early-stage financing and investment options, including crowdfunding across borders, seed funding and matching of ecosystem grants, business angel investment and venture capital. The event concluded with a networking reception to allow innovative SMEs and start-ups to get together with international investors and experts.
Turning ideas into products
On 4 and 5 May, SMEDA organised a pitching event, the “Venture Forum”, where 38 pre-selected SMEs and start-ups presented their projects for the Innovation Matching Grants (IMG) and Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program (STEP) schemes. A total of 15 winners were chosen, who will now go on to receive support from international experts in applying for funding worth up to €50,000 to transform their ground-breaking ideas into marketable products and services.