Armenia has recently received attention from the international community supporting the advancement of science and innovation. Local and Diaspora Armenians as well as foreign companies and investors have joined the initiative undertaken by Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) to foster the development of the scientific ecosystem in Armenia. Professors and scientists Dr. Garabed Antranikian, Dr. Mary A. Papazian, Naira Hovakimyan, Armenia’s Men’s Basketball Team head coach Rex Kalamian, comedian Vahe Berberian, rock star Serj Tankian, world known footballer Henrikh Mkhitaryan are among prominent Armenians who have been raising awareness of the public about the Advance Armenia Gala inaugural fundraiser initiated by FAST.
Advance Armenia Gala aims to attract additional resources for scaling the ADVANCE STEM Research grant program, striving to provide competitive research opportunities to 10 research teams and up to 50 local scientists. The Gala will take place on March 31, 2022, at The Landmark, Los Angeles, CA. The keynote speaker of the evening is Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder of FAST, Co-Founder and Chairman of Moderna, Inc.
Thanks to the generous support of the US company, Reliance, the leading COVID-19 testing services provider, which acts as the Visionary sponsor, two new research projects will be launched. Armenian-American benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Sarkis and Nune Sepetjian representing Turbo Wholesale Tires, Inc. and acting as an Innovator sponsor, will facilitate one more research project to be launched. FAST is also exploring potential research collaborations with UCLA through The Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA. This unique hub for world-class education, research, and outreach on issues related to Armenia and Armenians around the world is ideal for FAST’s mission.
According to Armen Orujyan, Founding CEO of FAST, scientific advancement is an indisputable necessity for Armenia and everyone’s contribution inspires hope in pursuit of success. “Armenia’s prosperity and sustainable future are embedded in the Nation’s scientific and technological advancement. Accordingly, FAST strives to deploy numerous solutions aimed at creating building blocks that will help foster Armenia’s science, innovation, and technology ecosystem. We do believe that through consistent and committed efforts of all constituencies we will be able to empower our brain trust, promising researchers and innovators, to bring cutting-edge, commercially viable, and globally competitive solutions to life. These joint efforts are crucial in ensuring Armenia’s leapfrogging”, said Armen Orujyan. What is remarkable, Orujyan exclaims, is that the vision of facilitating the transformation of Armenia through Science and Technology unites people of all backgrounds.
“Science and technology are driving forces behind modern healthcare innovation. Our Clinical Laboratory industry is benefiting from this advancement. The global pandemic has demonstrated how much the world’s health care system depends on the local advancement in science and technology. We appreciate FAST’s vision of perceiving Armenia not simply as a territory, but rather as a consciousness that is limitless in its reach, creativity, and resources. The FAST vision helps to unite people and organizations under the umbrella of their innovative projects,” said Joe Barnes, Founder/CEO of Reliance.
“We share FAST’s vision and goals for Armenia and believe that it is essential to support science and technology advancement in our motherland. As scientific research aims at gaining knowledge and finding solutions to unsolved problems, it will pave a path to many brilliant inventions, bringing progress and innovation to a thriving Armenia”, noted Sarkis and Nune Sepetjian, Turbo Wholesale Tires, Inc.
“Armenians have been making significant contributions to the world in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. UCLA is one of the top institutions in the world across various disciplines, and through The Promise Armenian Institute, we have the potential to connect Armenian researchers of FAST to scientists of the highest caliber from the university for collaboration and mentorship”, mentioned Eric Esrailian, physician, producer, entrepreneur.
An impressive collection of artwork and memorabilia are generously donated by outstanding personalities for silent auction during the gala. Partly a celebration of Armenia’s internationally recognized talent, these offerings from the fields of art, music, cinema, sport and fine beverages, include such gems as the Final Screenplay from Casablanca; Clark Gable’s original autograph and publicity photos; signed memorabilia from Serj Tankian and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and art-works by Kevork George Kassabian, Emil Kazaz and Rebecca Topakian; as well as some of the culturally and historically significant, and rich flavors of Armenian heritage.
In 2020, FAST designed the ADVANCE STEM Research grant program, to set the ground for the development of scientific directions in STEM-related fields in Armenia. The ADVANCE grant connects distinguished international scientists with local researchers for them to form a research group and work jointly on globally competitive research projects. FAST and its partners ensure comprehensive long-term institutional and financial support for the newly formed research groups. Now the amount of the grant is $65,000, but upon a successful fundraising round, FAST will be able to offer each team a grant of up to $125,000 per year. The grant covers salaries for local researchers and repatriated young scientists, laboratory supporting materials, international principal investigator salaries and travel expenses, collaborative research activities abroad, participation in conferences, publication in journals and patenting costs. Up to now 3 ongoing projects in biotechnology, machine learning and computer agriculture have engaged 4 PIs and funded 13 researchers.
The Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST) is a non-profit organization established in 2017 to help foster and accelerate the advancement of science and technological innovation in Armenia and beyond. FAST has designed and structured numerous programs and initiatives that propel Armenia to advance in Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology, and other strategic fields. Focusing on core science ecosystem drivers – Education, Research, Commercialization – FAST offers a wide range of initiatives to achieve its goal. FAST aims to play a critical role in Armenia’s leapfrog and transformation into a top global innovator by 2041.