This October, industry platform and systems provider Digitain announced that it would establish its ‘DigiTown’ enterprise hub in its hometown of Yerevan Armenia.
Digitain market research lead Mariam Pashinyan details to SBC the importance of the start-up directive to help Armenia nurture its fast growth tech and IT sectors.
SBC: Hi Mariam, can you detail to SBC readers the ‘DigiTown’ start-up complex, and why it is such an important directive for Digitain as an industry and technology stakeholder?
Mariam Pashinyan (Digitain Market Research Analyst): Ultimately, our goal with DigiTown is to turbo-charge Armenia’s already vibrant tech sector. As one the region’s leading software companies, we’re greatly invested in seeing Armenia staying at the cutting-edge of tech innovation.
We hope that DigiTown will help play a vital role in helping young entrepreneurs turn their visionary ideas into reality. In addition, we also hope the project will secure international investment for Armenia, growing its economy while further reinforcing the country’s position as an emerging technological powerhouse.
SBC: As a tech group, Digitain’s roots were founded in Yerevan in 2004. How has Yerevan’s tech scene flourished since Digitain’s inception?
MP: The change we’ve seen since our inception in 2004 has been momentous. In that time, Yerevan’s tech scene has transformed from outsourcing to a fully-fledged R&D generating industry. We’ve now reached a point where that tech can be integrated domestically, with half of all our revenue generated in our home market. Key to this has been the establishment of several education and technology centres that have been key towards developing Armenia’s tech scene.
For us, the support of such organisations has helped us reach 18,000 software developers, which has been integral to our growth. But it doesn’t stop there. In such a rapidly growing economy there is still significant demand for talented professionals to work for the 1,100 tech companies in Armenia. Indeed, market revenue reached 922,3 million USD in 2018, a 20.5% growth from 2017. We certainly hope DigiTown will help fill that gap!
SBC: As a tech incumbent, how will you asses and qualify DigiTown’s start-up prospects – this must be an intriguing dynamic for Digitain management?
MP: A lot has changed since Digitain was founded, and today’s tech startup scene has reached a new level in terms of product diversity, opportunity and markets. Since then, the Armenian tech sector has continued to emphasise the attractiveness of its business and investment climate.
The country is ranked highly by the World Bank and other international institutions because of its ‘open-door’ foreign investment policy and tax exemptions for small businesses. We’re confident that DigiTown will further boost Armenia’s investment potential even further, where we’re set to offer rent-free working space for selected start-ups and foreign companies.
As a consequence (and when it comes to assessing the start-up prospects), we have a precise framework of assessment criteria in place to accurately measure the exact benefits that the project brings to Armenia’s tech scene, as unfortunately, we can’t support them all.
SBC: Tech and software development are critical components of Armenia’s economy. Will DigiTown’s capacity and innovations be shared with the wider Armenian business community?
MP: The growth of any industry largely relies on the collaboration of relevant stakeholders. The majority of Armenian tech companies are happy to collaborate openly to drive tech and software development, which we’ll be looking to do.
The importance of the tech industry here cannot be underestimated given it currently represents 7.4% of Armenia’s GDP. We hope that DigiTown will benefit every area of the tech and business community, generating significant revenue in turn for our fellow industry partners.
SBC: Following a year of further industry consolidation, heading into 2020, why should all sector incumbents support new enterprise… what is the overriding benefit?
MP: In short – it benefits the entire Armenian IT sector. There will be several exciting opportunities for collaboration between participating companies, resulting in the creation of innovative new products and services. Increased foreign investment is another major advantage that DigiTown is no doubt set to provide – and overseas funding is critical to the health of any economy. DigiTown will also create a welcome influx of professional talent and experience from abroad, giving Armenia’s exciting tech startups the qualified workforce they need.