Recently CIVITTA team had its first project in Armenia. To find out more about the project, clients and the country itself, we asked a few questions to Sander who visited and worked there!
1. What is this project about?
We were contracted by the international development company GIZ in Armenia to help them in their economic development program. Previously, we were contracted to assist Armenian SMEs to apply for Horizon 2020, where we have successfully helped the first Armenian SME ever to win a grant from Horizon 2020! Now, we are assisting different Armenian universities and research institutes to apply for Horizon 2020. We made this a truly international project, working in collaboration with our Estonian, Romanian, Lithuanian and Moldovan offices.
2. What can you tell us about the client? How did they find CIVITTA and what problem did they want to solve?
The client had invited selected number of companies for a closed tendering process. CIVITTA’s track record in SME-instrument has been noted by the European Commission and now by GIZ, who invited us to make a proposal in this closed competition. GIZ is implementing a large economic development programme in Armenia and they identified the access to Horizon 2020 to be crucial for SMEs, universities, and research institutes. Besides funding, they find access to market, partners and knowledge to be of critical importance.
3. What is the result of this project?
The immediate results are 8 project applications submitted for Horizon 2020 for Armenian universities and research institutes. More importantly, the greater impact of the project is increased knowledge among Armenian universities and research institutions on how to develop and write project proposals and build the capacity in SPIAC (Armenian Center for the Promotion of the Integration of Scientific Programs) in providing support for Armenian universities and research institutes in applying for Horizon 2020 in the future
4. What kind of impression did Armenia make on you?
Armenia is a great country. Although I have not been able to see more than just the capital Yerevan, I have been impressed by the welcoming and warm nature of the people, their fantastic food and wines, great historical culture and nice weather - as long as you don’t come in July, like our colleague Age had to do. Armenia is a very small country, with less than 3 million people, but they have a great tradition in playing and teaching chess! Now the country benefits from many highly educated young people in mathematics, IT, engineering and a quite interesting portfolio of start-up companies with good potential.
5. What did you learn from Armenian culture?
Culturally, Armenians are proud of their history, culture, language food and wine. And with good reason - their apricots in the season are so juicy and sweet that you can`t stop eating them! Also, it is quite nice to have meetings outside with a view (see picture below).
This is where you want to hold a meeting.
6. Should we expect the opening of CIVITTA Armenia in the future?
The answer to that question remains unclear at the moment. The country is relatively small and we have identified a consultancy company that we have had staff exchange with, but if it will turn into a CIVITTA Armenia office yet remains to be seen.
What does other member of the project team Age Laine think about it?
Age: How to sum it up for 5 days? Imagine a one-hour client meeting with researchers, research departments and management (including one vice president and one director of the entire school), whose scientific content is, for example, High Performance Computing or Accelerator Physics. During my 5-day visit to Armenia, I had 14 such meetings (seven organizations were met twice, one I was not able to attend). In addition, I had a workshop with all for 4 hours on how to write a successful H2020 application.
So, in the course of 5 days, I had to get all the teams to work, also work out the outline of each of the projects at the most strategic level, give them homework (and review it! :). I had to make it clear the H2020 writing logic and process, and how to get the vision out of the project's practical agenda. I can say that it was one of the largest varieties of management development program for myself as well. Based on feedback I can say that the challenge has been overcome and all 8 requests are in the right direction.