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PMI has supported about 100 young scientists, PhDs and Masters Students working on science and technology in Armenia

Science and Technology Convergence Conference (STCC) 2019 is an annual conference set to foresee the future of the fundamental and applied research in Armenia. The conference brings together researchers and engineers working on advanced technologies in different science and technology spheres. We had an interview with one of the partners of STCC 2019: PMI Manager of Alliances and eco-system,

Mariam Davtyan, who answered some of the most important questions regarding STCC and the role of Philip Morris in the research and science sphere of Armenia.

 

Why PMI is interested in expanding its R&D footprint in Armenia?

PMI recognizes the important culture of technology in Armenia. PMI’s presence at conference is just one example of the value it places on Armenia’s cutting-edge technology scene. Due to the country’s proficiency in the scientific and technological arenas, in 2017 Philip Morris Armenia signed Memoranda of Understanding with the Government of RA, Armenian National Polytechnic University (Polytechnic) and Yerevan State University (YSU) setting out PMA’s intention to establish Philip Morris R&D facility in Armenia, as well as to support educational and research programs including Master’s and PhD research projects.

In general, what is the main activity of Philip Morris in the RA education sector?

The most important thing is that Philip Morris is now forming a value chain. One that guides a student who has made a decision to work on his / her qualifications towards science, starting from the Master's Degree Program. We will also try to encourage all those who are already engaged in science to emphasize the fundamental importance of science both for our country and for the industry, on behalf of Philip Morris and its research center.

Has Philip Morris somehow participated in developing the educational programs or just financially supported them?

Philip Morris did not participate in the development of educational programs at this stage. Nevertheless, this opportunity is open to both Philip Morris and to any company that is interested in developing the industry. As you know, involvement of business in the assessment and development of educational programs is very important. I would say that not the participation of Philip Morris in the development of educational programs is priority, but it may be interesting to study Philip Morris and other companies experience and business issues as a practical component of the program.

 

As we know, Philip Morris is Tobacco Company. Why you came to a decision to participate in Science and Technology convergence conference?

Among companies, presenting cutting-edge science will be Philip Morris International, a leader in the tobacco industry that is committed to replacing cigarettes with scientifically substantiated smoke-free products as soon as possible. PMI’s extensive research and assessment program is inspired by the well-recognized practices of the pharmaceutical industry. As PMI has its vision changed, it became a major investor in technology.  To date, օver 430 R&D experts work on smoke-free portfolio․ We talk about more than 300 world-class scientists of nearly 40 nationalities researching. Our rigorous research goes beyond approximately 30 scientific and engineering disciplines, including materials science, consumer electronics, clinical science and systems toxicology. Our global patent portfolio includes more than 4,600 granted patents and more than 6,300 pending patent applications for smoke-free-related technologies.

 

How Armenian economy will benefit from Philip Morris R&D facility establishment and ecosystem building activities?

We believe that the focus on engineering and technology sector development is very promising for Armenian economy, as well as for its international reputation. As a technological company interested in expanding our research and development footprint into Armenia, we could not miss this opportunity to learn more about technological projects, products and services developed by Armenian companies and R&D centers, as well as to exhibit our own high-tech products and solutions. We want Armenia to become the regional leader in educating specialists in digital technologies.  This is a growing global demand for workers who combine deep “technical” skills with “soft human” skills – courage, curiosity, cultural intelligence, collaboration. The programs we support are designed to enable today’s students take up challenging roles after graduation. After all, it is human capital development that defines future economic success of any country. We are glad to contribute to its development here in Armenia. 

 

Will Philip Morris grant recipients have any sort of obligation to Philip Morris in the future?

There is no any obligation, dependency, and preconditions in this case. This is a program for the development of students and the improvement of their educational quality. Master’s students who were funded by us will be able to get modern education with a comprehensive and deeper knowledge in the field of Data Science, and will become competitive not only in local, but also on the international labor market. Apparently, any company, related with data science will be able to collaborate equally with those students and graduate professionals, involving these professionals in respective projects on a competitive basis.

Does Philip Morris put restrictions in the topics of research in terms of scientific projects and collaborating with scientific scholars? In other words, will the scientific research be limited to contemporary challenges in the tobacco industry?

Not at all. There is no educational component related to cigarette production in the Data Science master's degree program. All the information and educational programs are built on natural and technological sciences: chemistry, physics, mathematics, and information science. Why? Because Armenia has a competitive advantage in this respect. There are many good physicists, mathematicians, and there is a school of years. It is also important that there is a sufficient technology base for us to participate in the development of Philip Morris technology products. That is why adjacent educational programs are built around these topics for university students.

PMI R&D Center in Armenia provided 15 scholarships to MS Systems Engineering course students and 21 scholarships to MS Data Science course students. Thanks to our PhD support program 10 PhD students from 8 different universities and research institutions are awarded monthly stipends. Area of their research is including Data science, Material Science, Industrial engineering, Electronic engineering, Power Management, Experimental Physics, Mathematical modeling, Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning, Mechanical Engineering, Sensing technology. This year we will announce the new wave of support to best PhD students in the country again. Not only students are targeted by our ecosystem development activities. 23 leading scientists represented in 7 teams from leading institutes of Armenia benefited from our Faculty support program which also is being re-launched this year. 

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