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Spotlight Article

Azerbaijani Startups

Azerbaijan American Alliance
August 17, 2015

At a time when oil-producing states are attempting to diversify their economic portfolio, countries such as Azerbaijan are looking to create the next Silicon Valley through government-directed development. As the Azerbaijani government has the capability to promote expansion into new technical fields, this concept has the resources to be turned into  reality. As part of their strategy, Azerbaijan could open a new, robust economic sector, which could become the new information technology hub in Central Asia. The recent performance of Azerbaijani technology startups and developers has gained the attention of the international community, and acts as a strong indicator of country’s progress in attaining this goal.

Azerbaijan’s NoObs team recently won second prize at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup competition in Seattle. As part of their strategy, the NoObs team created a project called “Spinal”, which looks to prove that technology can be utilized as a tool to improve their health.. To participate, contestants needed to develop a game on a Microsoft Windows platform that addressed a technology induced problem. Supported by Nar Mobile Telecommunications, the four students from Baku State University and Khazar University - Nizami Ismaylov, Arif Movsumzade, Fidan Rustamova and Ulviyya Rustamova – received much praise for their Spinal project. In using Bluetooth sensors and Windows 8 phones, the project helps people control their posture and prevent possible medical issues from having the wrong spinal position while sitting, walking, and working.

Also upcoming this month, the Azerbaijani startup Piriyev Aero successfully won a qualifying round in Baku to attend the Seedstars World Grand Final in Geneva. Seedstars is a Switzerland-based competition for startup companies in emerging markets. Piriyev Aero demonstrated their innovative drone during the competition in Baku. By allowing different hardware configurations, Piriyev Aero’s drone can be configured for multiple purposes. They now have the opportunity to compete for $500,000 USD in prize money in Geneva.

Azerbaijanis are also contributing to technology development at the international level. This month, American President Barack Obama hosted an event on startups at the White House. It featured Tatyana Kanzaveli, an immigrant from Azerbaijan, who is the co-founder of the Open Cancer Network. Frustrated by a lack of research explaining why healthy, non-smokers who exercise develop cancer, Ms. Kanzaveli started her business. The company allows medical researchers to better manage their clinical trials, ranging from analyzing data to recruiting research participants.

The future for Azerbaijan and its involvement in the technology industry continues to grow at a rapid rate, and the international community is taking notice. With the influx of more talented individuals and investment opportunities, the Caspian nation is increasingly becoming an important economic player in the global information technology sector.

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