Tradition to Tech: Meet the Next Generation of Innovation in the South Caucasus

Tradition to Tech: Meet the Next Generation of Innovation in the South Caucasus

From Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, These Innovators Are Building The Future Of This Exciting Region

March 27, 2024


The GIST Initiative is thrilled to share our latest Innovates program, GIST Innovates South Caucasus! 

Nestled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia lies the South Caucasus region, comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Historically rich and culturally diverse, these economies are now setting their sights on a new frontier: science and technology innovation. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the pivotal role that innovation plays in driving economic growth, fostering social development, and addressing global challenges, and its intrinsic worth to the future of this region. 

In light of these developments, we’re proud to support the innovation ecosystems of the South Caucasus, and the entrepreneurs and changemakers bringing the future to life in this extraordinary place. 

The last decades have been a period of incredible and far-reaching change in the region, with new, exciting developments securing the future of Caucasus innovators. We’ve seen science and technology innovation emerge as a powerful catalyst for economic development, with tech startups and research initiatives driving entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities. In Armenia, emerging tech startups and research initiatives are driving entrepreneurship and job creation, contributing to the diversification of the economy. According to a World Bank report, it has among the highest levels of entrepreneurial activity of the countries of the Caucasus—with firms found to be “highly innovative” according to the research. Another unique element of entrepreneurship in this country is the high educational attainment level, with 75 percent of firm founders having a postgraduate or doctoral degree. This has all led to the technological industry in Armenia showing rapid and sustainable growth of upwards of 25% a year. In 2016, the tech industry demonstrated growth of 38.5%, a record breaking figure! 

Azerbaijan, too, has seen incredible growth in entrepreneurship, with state supported measures leading to a fivefold increase in business entities over the past 17 years. The private sector now accounts for over 85% of GDP in Azerbaijan, indicating a thriving ecosystem for innovation and economic activity. Meanwhile, Georgia has seen extraordinary growth as well. The country's Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector experienced a staggering 49.9% growth in terms of GDP between 2021 and 2022, according to the National Statistics Office of Georgia. Supported by initiatives like the Georgia Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), which has invested $14 million in around 240 startups since 2018, Georgia is fostering a deep pool of globally scalable tech companies, with top beneficiaries having raised 10 times the level of GITA’s investment through additional private capital.

This isn’t our first time encountering the extraordinary innovation community of the South Caucasus. We’ve met amazing innovators in previous events, like our GIST Startup Training South Caucasus program. GIST Innovators like Vamekh Kherzulide (Georgia), who is building on his incredible success since participating in GIST Business Incubation, are indicative of the level of talent and drive entrepreneurs from this region possess. We're excited to announce that Vamekh will be on the judging panel at this year's GIST Innovates South Caucasus demo day where he will share his experience and knowledge about the startup success with the program's innovators. 

"The biggest problem for startups in our region can be money and access to capital. When you're starting with just a local market you are going to be talking to local investors. As soon as you grow, scale, and start thinking about larger markets, you automatically become so much more interesting for international investors."

Vamekh Kherkheulidze
Founder, Elven Technologies, Georgia

Innovators like Vamekh have led the way, but this new cohort of entrepreneurs is sure to go just as far, and we have been unbelievably blown away by the innovators who make up this emerging program. Learn more about this groundbreaking cohort, and follow along as they begin the next step of their innovation journey. 

Meet the 2024 Cohort! 

Hermine Hakobyan | Eliza Aleksanyan
Ecocycles is tackling urban Armenia's drink container litter problem with an innovative deposit scheme, offering various return points and rewards like refunds or donations. EcoCycles makes recycling rewarding and impactful, standing out with smart tech and community engagement. Their approach integrates advanced sensor technology for real-time monitoring and user-friendly interfaces.

Arsen Asatryan | Samvel Mkhitaryan
EdMap, a dynamic learning ecosystem, bridges education and career achievement in IT. Learners engage in simulated IT work environments, applying theoretical knowledge and honing soft skills like problem-solving and teamwork. They take on diverse roles, collaborating in team settings on real IT projects using industry-specific tools. Accessible via web browsers, EdMap integrates APIs for industry-specific tools and incorporates data analytics to tailor learning experiences. Its simulated workspace provides invaluable real-world IT experience, setting it apart from competitors.

Starship Armenia
Kevin Markalian | Siranush Makhmuryan
StarShip is a platform connecting international students from developing countries to potential financing opportunities. The platform currently focuses on students from developing countries such as Armenia, India, Georgia, and so on, which can often be overlooked by financial aid providers. Additionally, their automated application feature will allow users to fill out their applications much faster and ultimately in higher quantities, increasing their winning chances in limited time windows.

Petros Petoyan | Metaske Ghambaryan
Web3Compass is the first and exclusive web3 search engine, which helps to access all hidden domains, webpages, and information on the blockchain, which are inaccessible to existing search engines.
Large companies have been selling blockchain-based domains for millions over the last 5 years, yet the webpages on those domains remain invisible, even for Google. Web3Compass are indexing web pages connected to the blockchain and offering next generation search indexing for those pages.

The Hood 
Tigran Karapetyan | Aram Manukyan
The Hood is an innovative online platform revolutionizing community engagement and management. Catering to a diverse audience, it offers seamless interaction and efficient management features for community members, leaders, homeowners, renters, businesses, and service providers. Utilizing cloud computing, AI, and geolocation technologies, it streamlines communication and transactions, fostering stronger connections and greater convenience for all.

VR Look
Ani Safaryan | Lilit Aghayan
VR Look is a Virtual Reality app transforming museum engagement by offering immersive art experiences. It caters to educational centers, communities, and individuals with disabilities, providing access to art regardless of physical limitations or distance. Developed using Unity for app development and 360-degree video shooting for production, VR Look allows users to walk inside paintings, solve puzzles within artworks, and explore exhibitions.

Farid Aliyev | Fatima Mammadova
Ateshgah is maximizing energy output from solar panels by enhancing their efficiency. In contrast to current limitations where efficiency is limited due to high panel temperatures, they propose using an innovative Phase Change Material (PCM) to absorb excess heat when the panel temperature rises, maintaining it within an optimal range. Unlike active cooling systems requiring ongoing energy input, this method offers a one-time investment, ensuring sustainable and cost-effective energy production. With a focus on organic, environmentally safe materials, the solution aims to significantly increase solar energy's share in the global energy sector.

Emil Huseynli | Malik Sultanov
Agroficient pioneers a biodegradable hydrogel, aiding farmers in water-scarce regions to enhance yields sustainably. Absorbing 300 ml of water per gram and degrading into fertilizers within a year, it boosts crop productivity by 20%, reduces water usage by 21%, and fertilizer usage by 15% with just 40 kg per hectare,  addressing the global threat of water scarcity in agriculture, and reclaiming uncultivated land.  Withstanding arid conditions, it optimizes germination rates, offering a pH-neutral, soil-friendly alternative to competitors.

Farid Imanzade | Rasul Samadov
Azirrigation addresses global water scarcity and agricultural inefficiency by deploying smart irrigation technology, leveraging AI and IoT to optimize water and energy usage. Tailored for regions facing water shortages, their solution automates irrigation, maximizing crop health and efficiency. With advanced hardware, proprietary algorithms, and AI assistance, their product sets a new standard in IoT, offering unmatched performance and market value.

Sabina Zeynalova | Sakina Baghirova
Sabiskids, an innovative online platform tailored for kindergarten-age children in remote areas, aims to democratize access to quality education. With a commitment to bridging educational gaps, Sabiskids offers engaging learning experiences to empower children, regardless of location. Addressing the needs of the 262 million children worldwide without kindergarten access, including those with special conditions, Sabiskids integrates Zoom for seamless class interaction.

Fidan Muradova | Vugar Aliyev
4You links individuals with psychological anxiety to licensed psychologists online, improving mental health service accessibility in the Caucasus. Amid a global rise in mental health issues, including due to events like Covid-19, demand for services is high, especially in rural areas lacking centers.  The platform offers personalized care, scheduling, and feedback options, and aims to enhance engagement with video calls and gamified features. Unlike some international competitors, they prioritize linguistic accessibility and cost-effectiveness, focusing on the unique needs of Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Aydan Shahaliyeva | Jeyhun Mammadzade
CodePays tackles unemployment among programming course graduates by offering paid problem-solving activities, rewarding users based on the points they accumulate for solutions. The platform aims to provide practical experience and income for unemployed youth in regions where entry-level opportunities are limited. Leveraging web-based platforms and modern programming frameworks, CodePays stands out by combining skill development with income generation, distinguishing itself in the market.

GIORGI KHUTSIDZE | Tsotne matcharashvili
MFT pioneers assistive technology, enhancing computer accessibility for users with mobility challenges, with an innovative tongue-operated mouse system that integrates advanced technology and precision weight sensors for unparalleled accuracy in interpreting tongue movements. Their collaborative development involves internal R&D and external partnerships with experts in biomedical fields, human-machine interaction, and intraoral device technology, ensuring a comprehensive approach.

Khatia Svanadze | Natia Svanadze
Tripcamp, a mobile-exclusive platform, transforms nature-themed travel with a diverse array of options spanning accommodations to tours and experiences, initially launching in Georgia. Its integrated solution simplifies booking efforts, seamlessly connecting hosts, service providers, and travelers. Powered by advanced technology and a sophisticated algorithm, it delivers personalized recommendations based on user preferences and real-time trends with a competitive advantage in partnerships with local hosts, tourism organizations, and nature-loving communities, facilitating authentic experiences and exclusive 

Mariam Maisuradze | Ani Kavteladze
Happykids is a children's products marketplace dedicated to assisting small producers in overcoming operational and marketing hurdles to boost their income. Addressing the challenges faced by producers in Georgia and the region, particularly with the online market, they empower these businesses by managing complex logistics, including marketing and delivery, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on product quality and growth.

Ani Kazarian | Guri Koiava
Arrival specializes in software enabling effortless creation of immersive 3D virtual spaces with just a few clicks. Their cloud-based SaaS platform for generating 3D worlds is fully software-based, ensuring scalability without manual labor. Arrival's competitive advantage through AI-assisted 3D generation and a unique “Drag & Drop” creation solution. With its founders having over 20 years of industry experience, Arrival customizes its software to meet the specific needs of clients, ensuring high-quality, tailored solutions.

Nutsa Revazishvili | Beqa Natsvlishvili
WISP, a literacy and sign language learning app for deaf individuals, offers interactive, animated exercises for reading, writing, and signing. With support for 300 sign languages, it fosters connection and understanding among users. Addressing the global challenge of limited accessibility to effective literacy and sign language education for the deaf community, WISP provides a user-friendly platform that combines interactive literacy and sign language learning. Utilizing innovative technology, including machine learning and collaboration with sign language experts, WISP modernizes inclusive language learning for the global deaf community, setting itself apart with its comprehensive approach and diverse learning experience.

Irakli Chikava | Valerian Amiranashvili
Agronnect, an agricultural expert marketplace, connects farmers with freelance agronomists for online consultations, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional methods. With 80% of farmers worldwide lacking access to agricultural consultancy, Agronnect aims to bridge this gap by providing a platform for online consultation, significantly reducing costs, similar to the telemedicine model- but tailored for agriculture.

Simlif AI
Irakli Petriashvili | Tornike Shermadini
This project revolutionizes financial auditing by integrating robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning. With advanced AI tools, auditors swiftly analyze vast datasets, detecting anomalies and improving accuracy. This integration promises to reduce audit time and improve quality, positioning audit firms as innovation leaders. Leveraging AI empowers auditors to efficiently analyze client data, detect risks, and minimize errors. This comprehensive solution provides a significant competitive advantage in the AI auditing market.

Giorgi Khanishvili | Nikoloz Khabelashvili
Cloudcrop software, functioning as a digital agronomist, significantly reduces greenhouse crop losses and resource usage, offering tailored advice for optimal growth by collecting data from greenhouses via any existing third-party hardware and providing personalized analytics to farmers. Their software addresses challenges such as infestations and diseases, optimizing resource allocation and minimizing environmental impact. Their edge lies in developing filter-based disease detection systems, maximizing accuracy compared to other systems, and utilizing machine learning for location-based disease prevention.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. Read More.