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Smart Nation Underutilized potential

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#1 gamavor


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Posted 13 January 2017 - 12:48 PM



Edited by gamavor, 13 January 2017 - 12:50 PM.

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#2 Yervant1


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Posted 15 January 2017 - 12:16 PM

Sassoon Grigorian: Armenia Needs to be Recognized World Leader in a Certain Tech Area 

Sydney-based Sassoon Grigorian is Head of Public Policy, Australia and New Zealand at Salesforce.

He previously served as Director of Public Policy for eBay Inc, Asia-Pacific.

Before working at eBay, Sassoon Grigorian was responsible for government relations at Microsoft Australia, and worked at several state agencies and transnational companies.

Itel.am talked with Sassoon Grigorian, who presented his book “Smart Nation: A Blueprint for Modern Armenia” in Yerevan in recent days.

- How did you come up with the idea to write such a book?
- I had a number of ideas for a while and decided to write a book last year. I wanted to provide clear, precise recommendations for the Armenian people and Government to consider.
I’ve been fortunate to work in Government before. I have also worked in several U.S. multinational companies. Those companies earn more revenue per year than the entire Armenian economy (USD10 billion).

And I thought if I can help these companies grow and succeed, why shouldn’t I apply my expertise for Armenia. I think that as Armenians we have a collective responsibility for the prosperity of this nation. As Ruben Vardanyan said recently “it is our duty to make Armenia prosperous”.

That’s why I wrote the book.

- When did you write the book?
- I wrote it in the first half of 2016 and the English version got published a few months after that by Gomitas Institute (based in London). Hopefully the Armenian version will be available in the coming months. This week the Armenian launch of the book took place in Yerevan. The book can be found at Artbridge, Amazon.com, Gomitas Institute website, also Kindle.
- So what are your tips on how to make Armenia a smart nation?
- I think we need some fresh, bold ideas, public policy related ideas from a variety of areas. This includes the tech sector as well.
The first chapter is dedicated to technology. The chapter dedicated to tech is called “Silicon Mountain”. The reason why I call it “Silicon Mountain” is that it's a term that could be understood. This is an element of branding.
Armenia needs to rethink itself. It’s already in the tech space. The capability is there but there are a few things we need to focus on. First we need to have Information and Technology Council, which will be independent from government. And this council needs to bring not just successful Armenian entrepreneurs, but also globally recognised successful tech and business leaders.
Secondly we need to think about being recognized as a world leader in at least one technology area. Israel is known as a global security technology leader. In 2014, Israel’s National Cyber Bureau estimated 10 percent of global security technology came from Israel. Estonia which has half of Armenia’s population is already recognized as a global leader in digital e-gov services. Armenia needs to specialize. I mentioned this during my meeting with the Information technologies Minister Vahan Martirosyan a couple of weeks ago.
If you look at the technology space there are growing sectors in data analytics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, Internet of things. In all those areas Armenia has a capability of being a leader and we need to think about our strength, and focus on that.
Third point is we need to think of creating an innovation district. It’s a form of urban planning where you help congregate startups and innovative businesses in a specific area. There are more than 80 around the world, such as Boston which focuses on biotechnology. These areas typically have access to public transportation, wi-fi and use it as an area to collaborate with universities or other companies. Also, more importantly it's a way of attracting investment in a specific area. Now Yerevan is a small city. It's got fairly good public transportation within the city itself. It's got fast wifi, a lot of startups work in a small confined area. Yerevan needs an Innovation District.
-What does Armenia need to acquire to become a regional hub?
- Armenia has its own regional challenges and difficulties, two closed borders. We need to start thinking less of Armenia as a market of 3 million people, but more of a potential regional hub.
I think Armenia should look at examples of what other small nation states have done in order to succeed because small nation states don’t have abundant resources, and have a limited population.
Technology companies here in Armenia are very good. We've got a very skilled population here. There are more and more interactions happening with global technology companies and leaders but I think we need to focus on how to become world leader in something. Armenians are becoming more demanding of government and themselves.  I would encourage us collectively to have not only high expectations and high demands but have more specific demands, ideas that can be practically implemented.
The book is designed for debate and action, people might have different views which is fine. Let's not just have a discussion, let's have a debate on how real practical solutions can be implemented.

Narine Daneghyan talked to Sassoon Grigorian
SOURCE: http://www.itel.am/en/news/8728

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