The RA ESCS Minister Vahram Dumanyan visited the “Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology” (FAST) to get acquainted with the activities of the Fund and to discuss further cooperation programs. The meeting was also attended by the Deputy Minister Arthur Martirosyan, who also coordinates the sector of the international partnership.

The Foundation's Chief Executive Officer Armen Orujyan presented the programs currently being implemented and the ones having been realized since the establishment of FAST in 2017. A productive discussion was held on the cooperation within the policy implemented by the RA ESCS Ministry on the development of technological education in Armenia, the introduction of innovations in scientific and educational activities, including the involvement of the potential of the Diaspora.

The main mission of the Foundation is to create a favorable ecosystem that drives technological innovation and scientific advancement in Armenia and abroad. The programs are implemented in 3 main directions: education, research, and commercialization of research products. 26 programs have been implemented within this period.

Introducing the FAST activities, the V/P Director on Partnerships and Programs Suzanna Shamakhyan spoke about the programs aimed at fostering the scientific community, including the scholarship program implemented in 2018-2019 for graduate students, in cooperation with the Science Committee - the Travel Grant for collaborative research and the “ADVANCE STEM Research” grant program.

Currently, 2 projects are being funded within the framework of the "ADVANCE" Program, for a period of 4 years, and with annual funding of 45-65 thousand US dollars. Within the frame of these programs research activities are conducted under the supervision of Principal Investigators from the Diaspora, working in senior positions in international universities and research centers.

Special emphasis was placed on the provision of 60 million drams by the State through the mediation of the RA ESCS Ministry, to the National Agrarian University of Armenia to renovate the laboratory area within the framework of the Biological Incubator-Open Laboratory project implemented by FAST. Within the frame of the cooperation, the “Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology” will equip the laboratory, which will enable startups and research teams operating in the field of biology to test the scientific hypothesis.

The works of the Advanced Solutions Center (ASCENT) was presented as a successful experience in the field of commercialization of research outcomes, in which a research group of 6 people created an algorithm that generates pharmaceutical compounds based on artificial intelligence, which is universal and can create pharmaceutical compounds against any molecular target. The molecules are planned to be tested in the near future

Minister Vahram Dumanyan thanked the staff of the foundation for the work done, especially emphasizing the development of the field of artificial intelligence in Armenia: “This field is the imperative of the time, and the training of local specialists is one of our top priorities.”

During the discussion, a reference was made to the “SciNova” educational project, as well as the “Unit 1991” program, in which the objective of the preparatory course implemented by the Foundation is to provide individuals of pre-conscription age with additional knowledge in the field of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, so that they will be better prepared for further service in the ”Unit 1991”. The Foundation also provides a highly specialized training course for military personnel enrolled in the Unit in the field of artificial intelligence, as well as provides research and experimental design projects management support to the artificial intelligence group of "Unit 1991".

One of the goals of the "Unit 1991" program is to ensure opportunities for continuing education, comprehensive development of persons in military service, and the acquisition of professional skills. The soldiers of the "Unit 1991" during the service will acquire basic and practical knowledge and skills, so after the demobilization they will be able to start working in the relevant subdivisions of the RA Ministry of Defense, continue to use the knowledge and to advance them, find jobs in high-tech companies, as well as get enrolled in the activities of research laboratories.

Within the framework of this program, issues related to the review of deferment conditions, the effective integration of the army and higher education were discussed, emphasizing the continuity of education, especially in the case of fast-developing professions.

The upcoming activities of the Foundation are planned in the following fields: artificial intelligence, biological technologies and robotics, in which, according to the Foundation's research, Armenia has the potential to demonstrate world-class competitiveness. The Foundation intends to increase the number and funding of the grant program "ADVANCE STEM Research" in the next 5 years. One of the priority tasks is to create a professional environment that will involve undergraduate and graduate students in the program to take them one step forward to science, as well as to create an environment for young Armenian scientists from the Diaspora to come to Armenia to conduct research.