Marina Aghayan, a biotech entrepreneur in Armenia, embodies the country’s biotech goals and grit. As a Ph.D. student in Spain, she lived on a monthly food budget of just 3 euros.
Through sheer willpower and determination, she was able to produce a large number of papers in materials science, eventually getting a doctorate in Estonia. An Armenian-based bioengineering enterprise that manufactures personalized orthopedic implants was launched by her in Armenia last year. 3D printing and Biodegradable materials and 3D printing are employed by the firm to encourage bone development and regeneration. A bio- and materials science firm in Estonia, Fact Industries, was founded and is led by Aghayan, as was the European Space Agency, which uses 3D-printed prototypes developed by Fact Industries.
Despite the lockdowns in Yerevan, we decided it would be a worthwhile experience for us and our children to tour the countryside, explore the mountains, and learn about Armenian culture. As a result of meeting innovators like Aghayan, who impressed us with their drive, determination, and untapped potential, we rapidly became active investors in the country’s start-up community.
It is Aghayan’s goal to create a biotech cluster in Armenia that would produce specialty items, unique software, and mathematical models. Female entrepreneurs like her are becoming increasingly common in the burgeoning ecosystem of businesses and educational projects. They combine technical know-how with a fierce sense of purpose. The Armenian Bioscience Institute estimates that between 60 and 70 percent of biotech workers are female (compared to an estimated 47 percent in biotechnology companies over the world). And Armenia’s biotech sector is being positioned for expansion as a result.
I believe Armenia is a fantastic location for big technology investors especially impact accelerators because of these women founders. A typical example of underinvestment in women in new market technology clusters, their tales, and the potential they’re creating have become too compelling to ignore. There are several promising biotech businesses in Armenia, but they only got $50 million of venture funds in 2021, which is a mere fraction of $3.6 billion spent worldwide.
Impact funds and investors should consider Armenian businesses in their pipelines because of the country’s abundance of talent and potential.
Kherlopian remarked from his new home in Yerevan that “the mathematical aptitude you see is now finding its way into biotech.” In Armenia, “computational drug design, constructing medications by computer, is making great progress,” he said, as a primary example.
There’s something major going on in Miami, according to a partner with Healthcare Equity Angels, a diversified healthcare and biotechnology investment group. Since then he has invested and started mentoring small businesses in the nation, searching for places where they can shine.
“Several Intelligent systems in biotechnology, personalized medicine, genomics, and agribusiness are already making their way out from labs and early-stage enterprises to global markets,” he says. In terms of R&D acceleration and precision medicine, I was very pleased.” Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and enhanced visualization, as well as genetics and biotechnology, are all part of the equation,” explains Topdjian. In order to achieve great advances, “you need these sophisticated sciences operating in unison.”
Armenia has its own unique advantages in that intersection: a vast pool of human potential, relevant subjects of advanced education at low cost, and diaspora linkages to key research institutes throughout the globe. Next year, he expects venture capital to treble in the nation.
Roza Bejanyan, a pioneering Armenian biotech entrepreneur, is the latest example of this trend. Her firm, Medpoint Technologies, is developing digital pathology: AI algorithms applied to clinical samples, and tools for earlier and more exact identification of illnesses including pediatric cancer, brain cancer, and lung cancer. A bloodless, noninvasive AI-powered diagnostic for early-stage lung cancer and respiratory disorders based on nanostructures is one of the company’s offerings.
As a Yerevan-based researcher, Bejanyan had access to a wealth of biomedical data that was more accessible than in other nations. Medical data is more centralized in post-Soviet nations, she explains. You can utilize the patient’s data if they agree to it, as long as they give their consent.
For the second benefit, the well-trained pathologists who could interact with biotech entrepreneurs were a major one. Armenia and its neighboring nations have a large pool of highly qualified pathologists, which has accelerated Bejanyan’s product development. When it comes to training an AI model, “data annotation was the most crucial restriction,” she explains. “We need whole slide images of a biopsy, annotated and classified by a pathologist. . . . Without these guiding pathologists, it’s difficult to produce large amounts of data.”
A pathologist in the region may annotate biomedical data for tech businesses across the world using a platform that she has built for pathologists in the region.
Denovo employs AI to speed up the development of new drugs. Leader of the company’s data science team, Irina Tirosyan is also a professor at the American University of Armenia, where she trains the next generation of data experts.
Biotechnological companies from across the world are now taking advantage of Armenia’s growing skill pool. One of the world’s leading software companies, Vineti of San Francisco, has established a team of 60 individuals in Yerevan. Engineering, product, and support are all handled by this office along with HR and administrative duties.
We have tremendous advantages because of our great Armenian workforce,” says Vineti CEO Ann Klein. Customers across Europe and Asia count on us to have a strong presence in Armenia. Customers throughout the world benefit from their perspective,” says the company. She’s opened an office in Yerevan in part to service the Middle East and India, which are both within driving distance.
For Armenia, Topdjian, the Miami-based investor, argues that developing specific subfields of knowledge, areas that exploit the deep science of deep science, is the key. Pre-Soviet Soviet era, Armenia produced high-tech components for other countries’ mechanical engineering and aviation sectors and created some of the early computers in the world; this would be a return to that position.
Reflecting on the country’s long history of success in science and math inspires a new generation of scientists and mathematicians. Because of their resilience and determination, women founders have a distinct advantage over their male counterparts in tackling the thorny, complicated issues of their sector. Using their innate drive and a few cunning workarounds, they are determined to produce high-quality products that would entice health-tech investors throughout the world.