On September 5, AGBU Central Board member Dr. Yervant Zorian became the first Goodwill Ambassador of AGBU Armenia’s BRIDGE4CSOs program for Technovation Armenia. Technovation Armenia is the national contest of the Technovation Challenge which attracts thousands of schoolgirls from across the world to come up with mobile app ideas that offer sustainable solutions to problems in their communities.

Aiming to link the diaspora’s talent to local civil society organizations, BRIDGE4CSOs will support Women and Information Society non-governmental organization which, along with National Institute of Education, initiated Technovation Armenia and facilitated the participation of Armenian teams in the Technovation Challenge 2017.

An avid supporter of innovative education and engagement of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Zorian, helped Armenian team One Step Ahead with the Technovation Challenge World Pitch Summit 2017. The team—comprised of five girls aged 15-16 from Karbi secondary school in Aragatsotn province— won the People’s Choice Award. As a goodwill ambassador, he will continue supporting the local Technovation initiative.

“Even though the contribution of women has always been important in Armenia’s technology sector, achieving such global recognition in the competition—a combination of state-of-the-art technology and entrepreneurship—achieved by high school girls from this remote village of Karbi is extremely inspiring. This is exactly why AGBU fosters STEM education and teamwork from school age,” said Zorian.

One Step Ahead entered the contest with a bilingual Armenian Sign Language app and became one of the 12 finalists selected out of 3,000 teams. As the finalist in the education category, the team traveled to Silicon Valley to attend the World Pitch Summit and Awards Ceremony held at Google Headquarters in Mountain View from August 7 to 11. Along with the People’s Choice Award, the team received $10,000 to improve the app. “This contest changed my life a lot, especially regarding my choice of the future profession,” said Aghavni, a member of the winning team.

Financed by the European Union, BRIDGE4CSO program is run by AGBU Armenia in cooperation with the Eurasia Partnership Foundation. It helps Armenian civil society organizations enhance their skills by tapping into the expertise of the diaspora.