Hero House Artificial Intelligence Incubation Program 2020

Aug 3, 2020
4 min read

European Fund for Southeast Europe supports the second batch of the program

EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy and SmartGateVC join forces for the second batch of the Hero House AI Incubation Program, which will be held remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The program promotes innovation and knowledge generation via investing in R&D to empower businesses with state-of-the-art technology and furnish them with scalable business models.

The program targets startups with a solid volume of data and matches them with student research groups supervised by leading professionals from the industry and academia. It aims to increase the scalability of the participant startups and introduce new business models for them. Simultaneously, the students involved in the research groups will gain practical experience while working under the supervision of experienced AI professionals․

The general scientific supervision of the program will be provided by Vazgen Hakobjanyan, partner at SmartGateVC and board member at YerevaNN, and Hrant Davtyan, founder at metric and lecturer at the American University of Armenia.

Vazgen Hakobjanyan, Partner at SmartGateVC, said: “We see the Hero House AI Incubation Program as an opportunity for technological companies to enhance their businesses and create scalable solutions in today's rapidly-changing world where personalization is an unfair advantage. We designed the program to tighten industry-academia collaboration via involving university students in AI modeling.

The pilot batch of Hero House AI Incubation Program was supported by the European Union through its SMEDA project. It took place from June to September 2019, where 11 researchers helped create AI models for 7 companies. Since then, the program has been in great demand in the tech community. The Entrepreneurship Academy of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) is supporting the second batch, which will reflect the lessons learnt from the pilot batch and have a larger impact through the involvement of 12 companies, 24 students, and 4-6 research supervisors. The program duration is 26 weeks, running from July 27, 2020 to January 30, 2021.

According to Markus Aschendorf, Chairperson of the EFSE Development Facility which runs the Entrepreneurship Academy: “EFSE has long valued the potential offered by technological innovations to support entrepreneurship and advance opportunities for micro and small enterprises. By supporting this tried-and-true incubation program, the EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy aims to enhance the impact of great tech ideas on business development in the region.

Supervisors and companies with AI implementation potential are welcome to apply starting July 30, 2020, with a deadline of August 14, 2020. Applications are available at www.herohouse.am/ai-incubator.      

Ashot Arzumanyan, Partner at SmartGateVC, said: “We see Hero House AI Incubation program a critical initiative that transforms companies into deep-tech by laying solid AI foundations in their business models and scalability.

After the selection and matching process of companies and supervisors, student applications will be opened from August 24 – September 4, 2020. Students can apply to join already established company-supervisor pairs based on their interests.

About Hero House AI Incubation Program

Hero House AI Incubator is a 26-week program designed to bring together (1) companies having AI implementation potential, (2) leading ML research supervisors from universities and industry, and (3) students (chosen by supervisors) conducting research in machine learning or adjacent disciplines, to create a pipeline of scalable and investable startups and foster undergraduate research in Armenian universities. EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy and SmartGateVC have joined the forces to run Batch 2 of the Hero House AI Incubator under the EU4Business initiative.

The program creates synergy between higher education and industry via hands-on, market- relevant learning experiences for university students and young professionals. It also creates strong links among students, researchers, scientists, and professionals while fostering innovative and entrepreneurial culture among science, industry, and university.

Hero House AI Incubator was first launched in June 2018 with the support of the “Support to SME Development in Armenia” (EU-SMEDA) Project within the EU4Business initiative. For more information, please visit www.herohouse.am/ai-incubator.

About EFSE Development Facility and Entrepreneurship Academy

The Development Facility of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE DF) was created in 2006 to support the fund’s development finance mandate. It deploys effective, targeted, and innovative technical assistance to maximize the impact and extent of the fund’s development finance mandate in target countries. The EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy is an initiative of the EFSE Development Facility that encompasses a range of programs to support local businesses throughout the EFSE target region. By working together with organizations that drive incubation and acceleration projects, the Entrepreneurship Academy provides entrepreneurs with guidance, resources, mentoring, networking opportunities, the chance to receive financial backing, and other means necessary to turn good ideas into successful enterprises. In this way, the Entrepreneurship Academy and its partners help create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive – driving the spirit of EFSE as “The Entrepreneurship Fund.”

Managed by impact asset manager Finance in Motion, the facility operates independently from the fund in a fiduciary arrangement under Luxembourg law. The Development Facility Committee, comprising members nominated by KfW Development Bank, the development bank of Austria OeEB, and the Dutch development bank FMO, is responsible for assessing and approving all project proposals and providing strategic guidance to the facility. For more information on the European Fund for Southeast Europe, please visit: www.efse.lu.

About SmartGateVC

SmartGateVC is a Silicon Valley pre-seed venture capital fund backed by Tim Draper and a network of entrepreneurs and professionals from the U.S., Europe, and MENA. Their key focus areas are Artificial Intelligence (AI), Security, Internet of Things (IoT) and emerging Computational Biotech, Quantum Computing and Blockchain across California, Massachusetts, NYC, Armenia, and wider Eastern Europe. The fund invests on the edge of technology innovation where science and entrepreneurship join to disrupt the status quo. It is a leading Armenian VC fund with its portfolio comprising of 18 deep tech companies.