ArmInfo. Science and Business Days 2023 scientific conference began its activities in the hall of the Gabriel Sundukyan National Academic Theater of Yerevan. The event was first held in 2022 on the initiative of Minister of Economy of Armenia Vahan Kerobyan, where the special guest was Nobel Prize winner - American molecular biologist and neuroscientist of Armenian origin Ardem Patapoutian.
This year's conference has brought together entrepreneurs, scientists, analysts and businessmen in Yerevan to identify the ways that science and business can jointly contribute to the development of a knowledge-based, rapidly growing economy.
During the welcoming speech, Armenian Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan noted that the keynote speaker of the conference this year is an American essayist of Lebanese origin, economist, futurist and risk manager, Ph.D., author of the philosophical and economic bestsellers "Black Swan" and "Antifragile" Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
"Despite the fact that the black swan was first discovered in Australia, as stated in Nassim Taleb's book, we must admit that in Armenia we often meet such "black swans". In this sense, during the event such a flow of thoughts and knowledge awaits us , which will help us set higher goals for ourselves, the implementation of which will help improve the competitiveness of enterprises, sustainability and enhance economic growth," he said.
The minister expressed hope that during his short visit to Armenia, Dr. Taleb, will help understand how to achieve great results and overcome the challenges facing our country with minimal risk. Touching upon the economic situation in Armenia, he recalled that the economic policy of the Armenian government is based on increasing labor productivity and creating an investment-based economic growth model. Over the past two years, according to the minister, Armenia has registered one of the highest rates of economic growth in the world, and compared to 2020, in absolute terms, GDP has grown by about 100% (in dollar equivalent), and GDP per capita according to IMF forecasts will reach $8.2 thousand.
"Despite the fact that we have significantly improved our position, the structure of the economy will continue to remain simple, and the goods and services exported are basic," he complained. Kerobyan said that in order to stimulate labor productivity, the government will implement a number of programs. First of all, in this regard, he named the program for modernizing the economy, within the framework of which the state stimulates the renewal of production capacities of enterprises by subsidizing a large part of lending rates. "According to our forecasts, by the end of the year, over 3 thousand companies will purchase equipment worth 200 billion drams, which will help companies become more competitive," noted the head of the department.
He also spoke about the program to attract highly qualified specialists from abroad to Armenian enterprises, who can bring experience and knowledge of an international level. As part of this initiative, the state subsidizes from 20% to 70% of wages for international specialists for 3 years. "We have already managed to attract 400 employees from abroad, but we see that the potential of this program has not been exhausted. According to our analyzes, every company needs such specialists," noted Kerobyan. He also recalled that a few weeks ago the government approved an assistance program for the production of economically complex, knowledge-intensive goods that have relatively low competitiveness on the world market and require serious investment. "We are ready to assist enterprises through the cashback mechanism and tax incentives, returning to such companies up to 35% of the investments they made in the production of such products," he said.
The minister also noted that the government's contribution to strengthening the country's economy is reflected precisely in the budget for financing economic programs. If in 2020, according to Kerobyan, 20 billion drams were allocated from the state budget for these purposes, then in 2024 this amount will reach 92 billion drams.
"This is an investment made by the government to increase the productivity and competitiveness of enterprises," the minister emphasized.
In turn, the Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports of Armenia Zhanna Andreasyan, attaching importance to state support for the scientific field, recalled that starting next year, wages in the industry will increase by an average of 174%. In addition, she spoke about the grant programs that the department is implementing in several areas at once, which has significantly increased the involvement of young scientists in the field. "And the situation today has already developed in such a way that 70% of the beneficiaries of grant programs are represented by young scientists," Andreasyan said. She also reported on other programs being implemented to stimulate scientific activity in the country, including those related to the integration of Armenian scientists working abroad into projects and research carried out in Armenia. It should be noted that as part of the Days of Science and Business, panel discussions are held with the participation of representatives of innovative business, top managers of large companies operating in the international market and representatives of the scientific segment.
The conference is held with the aim of uniting scientists, researchers, businessmen and investors from Armenia and around the world. Having gathered on one platform, participants will try to understand the mechanisms of interaction, understand what efforts are required to have companies that could produce and sell unique products that are the result of intellectual property, and export them around the world. Let us remind you that the event "Days of Science and Business" was held for the first time in 2022. The event was attended by more than 1000 participants, including, in addition to Ardem Pataputyan, the famous astrophysicist Garik Israelyan, New York University professor Georgy Derlugyan and others.
It should be noted that in 2024, according to the draft budget, the state will allocate about 32.5 billion drams for the development of science, which is 8% higher than a year ago.