My EIF series: Innovation and Regional Matching Grants Program: Supporting Startups in Armenia
Welcome to the My EIF series, where we dive into the incredible stories fueled by the Enterprise Incubator Foundation (EIF) that are shaping Armenia’s tech scene.
In this blog, let’s unravel the innovation, growth, and success journey paved by the EIF’s Innovation and Regional Matching Grants Program. Over nearly a decade, these grants have not only breathed life into ambitious ideas but have become the driving force behind the evolution of Armenia’s startup ecosystem.
Supporting Almost 100 Startups: The Impact
The story of the Innovation and Regional Matching Grants Program began in 2014 when EIF implemented innovation grant programs, targeting tech teams and companies in Yerevan, Gyumri, and Vanadzor. This initiative operated within the framework of the “E-Society and Innovation for Competitiveness (EIC)” Project, a collaborative effort supported by the Government of RA and the World Bank.
Since 2015, the EIF has successfully implemented grant programs, providing financial support to approximately 100 startups, with a total funding amount of $3.5 million. These initiatives have proven to be instrumental, as the startups that received grants from EIF have gone on to raise a remarkable $51 million in subsequent investments. This underscores the effectiveness of the EIF’s support in catalyzing the growth and success of innovative ventures.
In 2019, the foundation took a bold step forward by extending the matching grant programs to encompass all regions. This expansion was part of the “Trade Promotion and Quality Infrastructure (TPQI)” Project, another significant collaboration supported by the Government of RA and the World Bank. The aim was to broaden the program’s scope, supporting innovations and new technologies in both tech and non-tech sectors, reflecting a commitment to a holistic approach to innovation.
At the heart of the Innovation and Regional Matching Grants Program lies an incredible force that has propelled nearly 100 startups to unprecedented success. Within the program’s framework, these grants have been a guiding light for aspiring entrepreneurs, providing them with the essential support to turn their dreams into reality.
The grant programs are designed with specific objectives in mind. They aim to support the adaptation, improvement, and development of new solutions, products, services, or processes. This support is structured to stimulate technology absorption, facilitate technology transfer, foster innovation and commercialization in the private sector, encourage collaboration between research centers and industries, and promote the development of new technology-driven companies across Armenia.
A particular emphasis of the program is directed towards supporting the development of viable technology enterprises in Armenian regions. For example, Renderforest, an all-in-one online branding platform where you can create videos, animations, logos, and websites and share them in minutes, traces its roots to Gyumri, demonstrating the program’s commitment to nurturing talent beyond the capital. Safe You, an innovative platform for women to protect, support and empower them through community, currently making waves from the Gyumri Technology Center, is another shining example of the program’s impact, gaining global recognition day by day.
From Local Triumphs to Global Recognition: Startup Success Stories
What sets the IMG and RMG grants apart is their ability to push startups from local triumphs to global recognition.
The success of Renderforest, Wirestock, Robin Robot, Mythrill, and QaylTech are not just stories of innovation; they are testaments to the program’s efficacy, which led to attracting investments from domestic and international sources. These startups have evolved from promising ideas into industry leaders, solidifying Armenia’s position on the global tech map.
Beyond Funding: Developing Innovation Ecosystems
While financial support is crucial, the journey of a startup goes beyond just funding. Regularly organized events within the program, such as bootcamps and demo days, serve as more than just platforms for presenting products. They are dynamic forums where startups interact with potential investors and mentors, creating connections beyond financial transactions. The program has become a cornerstone in building a robust and supportive innovation ecosystem in Armenia.
From pioneering advancements in bioprinting to developing cutting-edge IT technologies and rehabilitation devices, the Innovation and Regional Matching Grants Program has been a driving force behind the diversification of Armenia’s startup landscape. For many startups, this program has been nothing short of vital, providing not only financial support but also a nurturing environment for their growth.
Stay tuned for more in-depth insights into EIF’s projects and initiatives in upcoming articles!