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American Tech Giant Helps Promoting Startup Projects In Azerbaijan

By Gunay Hajiyeva August 17, 2018

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Winners of Demo Day of the MIT-Azerbaijan Global Startup Lab, Baku, Azerbaijan, August 9, 2018 / Marja.Az

The Baku-based SOCAR AQS Company and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) teamed up to spearhead technology innovations in a rapidly growing and modernizing economy in the Caspian region through a fund, called the MIT-Azerbaijan Foundation.

A ceremony held at ADA University in Baku on August 9 awarded the winners of the MIT-Azerbaijan Global Startup Lab program, which aims to contribute to the development of private enterprise and startup environments in Azerbaijan, promoting new technologies and innovative ideas based on mobile and web applications. The foundation also organized intensive entrepreneurship courses and computer programming seminars for 29 Azerbaijani students from June to August.

"SOCAR AQS signed an agreement on the establishment of the MIT-Azerbaijan Foundation with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, one of the world's leading universities, earlier this year,” SOCAR AQS General Director Ramin Isayev said at the ceremony, according to Marja.az.

“As we know, MIT is the place where many scientific discoveries have been created. It is not a coincidence that we have brought Startup Laboratory of this famous science center to Azerbaijan as a pilot project. This project is unique in its efforts to boost business innovation in Azerbaijan, to develop a digital and entrepreneurial ecosystem. We have brought together various universities, startup centers, and accelerators at the national level through this project.”

Earlier, 29 Azerbaijani students out of 100 applicants were chosen by the MIT-Azerbaijan Global Startup Lab to attend a seven-week intensive development course and competition, which took place at ADA University in Baku. The first, second and third place startup ideas winners were Dataforest, LocalsAround and MasterMe, respectively. Concepts included web platforms and mobile applications using artificial intelligence in education, creating an ICT database, and applying technological functionality in travel and entertainment.

"It is a great pleasure to see the ever-increasing success of Azerbaijani youth,” ADA University's Vice-Rector Fariz Ismailzade said during a presentation on August 9.

“ADA University as a partner in this program is showing its support for transforming innovative ideas into startups and then startups into successful companies."

MIT is one of the world’s leading research universities, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Ninety-one Nobel laureates, 25 Turing Award winners and eight Fields Medalists have been affiliated with MIT as alumni, faculty members or researchers.

SOCAR AQS is a joint venture between Azerbaijan’s wholly state-owned national oil and gas company, State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and Nobel Oil Services, which provides drilling, construction and project management as well as equipment maintenance, procurement and enhanced oil recovery services in the oil and gas industry. Since its creation in 2007, SOCAR AQS has been financing and supporting various technology and innovation projects that contribute to the development of Azerbaijan.

The opening ceremony of the first MIT-Azerbaijan Global Startup Lab program was held at ADA University, with the support of SOCAR AQS on June 27.