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Dream big, go global: Yerevan hosted EMERGE 2022 tech conference

The brightest technological reunion after the pandemic – EMERGE 2022, more than 2800 investors, startups, funds, and companies in Yerevan, live performances by the best and most influential speakers, professional networking, the EMERGE vibe, and more! Yes, the international tech conference EMERGE was held in Yerevan. God, how I missed this!

Restart

Seems like an active Armenian techno life is again in full swing, this time hosting one of the biggest regional techno events so far. After the last few years of isolation, lockdowns, fears, and uncertainties, an event of this magnitude is like fresh air for the techno community.

Founders of EMERGE Conference

Founders of EMERGE Conference – Alina Nilsson and
Margo Lazarenkova at the main stage of EMerge 2022, Yerevan. Photo by Vardan Papikyan


Still, the conference brought together bright stars (Mike Butcher’s and Aliona Doletskaya’s panels alone are worth anything), investors, and promising startups for networking, exchange of information, and experience to create global-scale products under the slogan “Dream big, go global”.

No wonder, I was excited beyond words to attend and cover the event on behalf of InTech Media Platform. And the first impressions were – the goal to bridge the perspective of regional startups and international investors, talk about the global tech trends, and inspire people to make global products is achieved. But first things first…

Emerge 2022 – Conference Day 1: how can tech support those in times of crisis

The conference kicked off on June 1st, in one of the cultural centers of Yerevan – Sundukyan theater, in the very heart of the capital of Armenia. For two days, the theater turned into a real techno hub, reminiscent of bee hives, with the most incredible concentration of techno-geeks from Western and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Central Asia.

After registering, I hurried to work until the official opening, scheduled for the evening. In general, before I got acquainted with the Agenda in advance, I expected that the hype topics of the last year would probably become the highlight of the conference: those are the NFT, the Metaverse, and everything related to it. Of course, an entire panel was devoted to the Metaverse, curated by TechCrunch Editor-at-Large and Techfugees co-founder Mike Butcher, but in my subjective opinion, the show was stolen by impact entrepreneurs and their startups that solve pressing problems, including those that have emerged in recent crisis years.

Mike Butcher and Davit Baghdasaryan at the stage of EMERGE 2022

Mike Butcher and Davit Baghdasaryan at the main stage of EMERGE 2022. Photo by Vardan Papikyan, InTech.am


Personally, I would be happy if the topics of the COVID, the war and its consequences, or climate problems would remain in the past, but we have what we have. Circumstances follow from this, when technologies, and all those who believe in their power, rush to help in the fight against the problems that we created ourselves. So the topics of overcoming post-pandemic, war, climate, or food distribution issues with the help of tech were popular both on stage and during the networking process.

Mainly, the speeches were focused on two directions – #trendwatching and #founderstories. So the very first panel, curated by Mike Butcher, was devoted to the topic of how technology can help during a crisis and how to outrun a big corps. The guests of the panels were Olga Kitaina, co-founder and CEO of a company called Alter, and co-founder of the brightest Armenian startup in recent years Krisp, Davit Baghdasaryan.

As part of the “Tech for good: how tech can support those in crisis” panel Kitaina told the story of Alter, a platform that specializes in providing online psychological assistance to those in need. Sure, Krisp is a big name, an example of an outstanding company, needing no introduction. The most unique and complex technology using neural networks and deep AI, which helps to remove noise during online conferences, has become a real breakthrough not only for Armenia but globally biting even big corps.

Clones and concerns

Talking about the concerns of being cloned, Davit spoke about competitors, company culture, and values, in general, which help not only to survive but also to become a big name in the global market. In his opinion, there are a lot of copycats out there, but Krisp even welcomes them, as competitors validate the market.

“When you’re inventing something, you know how difficult it is and the technology that works under Krisp is extremely complex. Sure, there are other noise cancellation products, but we are the best and the market knows it”, concludes Davit Baghdasaryan.

Sure, Krisp’s created culture is outstanding, as they managed both to become a world-class Armenian tech company, raising multimillion-dollar funds several times, and become a booster for other Armenian startups in the global technological arena. Recently, Krisp co-founders themselves launched their Big Story VC with a $10M fund to invest in 25 early-stage Armenian startups. It’s what we call “think global”.

Another interesting session with Olga Kitaina was about tech’s response to the crises and how it helps to solve various problems.

Olga Kitaina, EMERGE Conf 2022, Yerevan

Olga Kitaina, founder of Alter, at the main stage of EMERGE Conf 2022, Yerevan. Photo by Vardan Papikyan, InTech.am


Following the example of Alter, technologies really make traditional services efficient. For example, a special AI algorithm working under the service selects psychologists at the request of clients, changing and evolving constantly. Also, recently, the company launched crowdfunding, a kind of free session for those who are suffering because of a war. That perfectly fits the “tech for good aspect”, even if it’s not a profitable way for a company.

Startupers

In addition to these interesting panels, on the first day of EMERGE 2022, I was able to communicate with quite interesting conference participants and startupers discussing how technologies solve important problems like climate change control or reducing food waste. Using the example of the startup FooDoo, which uses AI-run special software, you can see how technologies help to manage important, previously difficult to resolve issues. The platform controls food waste by monitoring a supply chain via its smart micro-stores that predict the exact amount and type of food people consume. Today, when we are about to face a global food distribution crisis, or climate change problems, data-driven startups like this could work for good.

Emerge 2022 – Conference Day 2: Who’s the creator?

The second day was marked by interesting panel sessions on the creator economy and the Metaverse, as well as the creation of new worlds for entertainment, media, and e-commerce, curated by Alena Doletskaya (journalist, ex-Vogue) and Mike Butcher (Techcrunch) respectively, hosting Picsart, TikTok, NVIDIA and Warner Music Group executives.

According to the most famous creative platforms’ representatives, the image of the creator with technology has changed dramatically in recent years. So, everyone, today, has become a content creator, from an ordinary food blogger to the head of a company, and it was technologies that opened up these opportunities. Creative platforms like Picsart or TikTok provide a set of tools to create video or photo content in a few minutes, post them on social media, and become celebrities. Today, unlike in the past, it is not politicians who are recognized as the most influential personalities, but millionaire influencers who are not even 18.

New media

Everyone, today, has become a content creator, from an ordinary food blogger to the head of a company, and it was technologies that opened up these opportunities.


In this whole discussion, I really liked the part where the ethical part of these platforms was discussed, their impact on youth and children, and how they challenge the traditional, classical notions of parenting, education, and other important pillars. On the example of TikTok, for example, we see a lot of trash generated on a platform that cannot be called instructive or good. On the other hand, many universities, teachers, and specialists understand the importance of technology and use the same TikTok for educational purposes to be understandable to a young consumer who needs to be explained interactively and quickly, ideally in 30 seconds.

Another trendy theme of Day 2 was the Metaverse and how big companies like Warner Music Group or NVIDIA are creating their share of the famous Metaverse, that is coming for us all. From investing in decentralized platforms like Roblox to building their Metaverse: these and other themes were discussed during the session.

In general, we see that the process of creating the Metaverse is long and needs various technologies, like AR/VR, 3D, or blockchain synchronize and work together to create a decentralized environment, that is easy to join by anyone, easy to interact with, with a common language, and the opportunity to pass from one world to another.

Explaining their investment in Roblox, Tiago Teixeira Correia from Warner Music Group explained:

“We have invested in Roblox as it is to a certain extent, a network, where you can from a decentralized perspective create your own experiences. And you create your own experiences on a set of shared common tools, the same knowledge-based, the same, common language. And these experiences are all in 3D. I mean people hang out there, socialize, and most importantly, have fun. For us, as an entertainment-based company, this is what was important”.

NVIDIA, however, went in another way: they are building their Metaverse, or rather Omniverse. The main perspective for the company is to create a foundation for the NVIDIA omniverse, a whole platform, you can prioritize it in many different ways, but as Dmitry Duka defines it, it’s a Google doc for 3D content. Wow!

Final thoughts

In general, the Emerge 2022 conference made an incredibly positive impression, especially in terms of networking and the opportunity to talk to all the participants and speakers in person. If we speak about each case highlighted during the conference, then one article is definitely not enough.

The success stories of VOCHI or AI Factory, acquired by Pinterest and Snap Inc. respectively are not the only interesting topics to discuss. One thing I’m definitely glad about – we could get together again, talk, brainstorm, to create technologies that will change our lives. I hope for the best…


Challenge winners & TOP 100 Report

See the list of EMERGE 2022 Challenge winners and get the EMERGE 100 Report of 2022
See more »


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About author

Peproneh is a contributor to InTech Direct media platform. She has 10+ years of journalism and content creator experience. Peproneh is a resident columnist of InTech.am Friday Notes section and covering topics on technology, startups, engineering, CAD and manufacturing.
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