For Immediate Release
The Barama Innovation Center, which was opened in Baku’s Old City in December 2009, has started to offer young Azerbaijani entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop their ICT and telecom-related innovations in a safe environment before launching them in the Azerbaijani marketplace. The main objective of the Barama project is to provide support aimed at exploring new ideas in the sphere of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), evolving them to maturity and eventually turning them into reality. Participants at Barama are offered a high-tech equipped workplace, necessary means of communication, technological support and equipment, professional business training and support by Azercell staff in marketing, finance and legal affairs. Azercell Telecom has teamed up with Cisco Systems and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to make the Barama Innovation Center a success.
“USAID is proud to partner with Azercell and Cisco to promote innovation in the ICT sector in Azerbaijan,” states USAID/Caucasus Regional Mission Director Jonathan M. Conly. “We look forward to seeing these young entrepreneurs succeed in a competitive marketplace.”
The Center will foster innovation in ICT by providing incubation services to help young entrepreneurs take their ICT innovations to market and start new businesses. With room for approximately 20 entrepreneurs at a time, each entrepreneur will be provided research space and resources for six to twelve months, depending on the complexity of their concept. Azercell will provide technical support, while Cisco through its Entrepreneur Institute will provide entrepreneur-specific business support, including business planning skills and Cisco’s Internet business solutions, as well as an online network of human resources that provides business advice, mentoring, and services. Based on the experience of a similar incubation centers in other countries, the Center in Azerbaijan expects that about 30 percent of the entrepreneurs will develop a marketable concept, which would mean 13-15 entrepreneurs will start successful businesses each year.
Ali Agan, CEO of Azercell states, “Barama Project is of great importance for Azerbaijan and the region as a whole. It is for the first time people with innovative thoughts get the opportunity to develop and test their ideas without constraints and free of charge. It is especially pleasing that not only Azercell but also international organizations and corporations pay attention to the center. Interest by the USAID and CISCO and their offer to hold trainings ensures success of such initiatives.”
Beyond the major telecoms, Azerbaijan’s ICT sector is inappropriately small for an economy its size. Fostering the growth of entrepreneurial, visionary small companies that can increase innovation across the economic landscape will be a significant contribution to the Azerbaijani economy.
USAID support for this alliance is provided under the Private Sector Competitiveness Enhancement Project. The objective of this project is to boost the competitiveness of targeted non-oil and gas sectors of Azerbaijan’s economy. The six targeted sectors are information technology, aquaculture, finance, dairy, poultry, and fruits and vegetables.
Last updated: February 20, 2015