Institutional Coordinator for ABioNET project: Gayane MARMARYAN
The Armenian National Agrarian University is the only higher education institution in the country in the agricultural field and has five faculties: Food Technologies, Agronomy, Veterinary Medicine, Agrarian Engineering, Agribusiness and Economics. The University provides three-level education - Bachelor, Master and Doctor. ANAU provides vocational education and trains students for specific careers by developing expertise through tailor-made programs. The University has a teaching-experimental farms, a veterinary clinic, a wine academy and a high school. Since 2014, all academic programs have been substantially reviewed to bring them in line with the UNESCO requirements, then updated and improved in 2019. Education is implemented both on the basis of full-time education and distance education, the so-called, correspondence courses. The ANAU has 4603 students, 131 collaborating international universities and 121 partner enterprises. The university proactively involved in various international exchange and training programs, fostering the exchange of students and teaching staff as well as contributing and leading to the internalization of the University. These programs include TEMPUS, Erasmus Mundus, Erasmus+, DAAD, Eurasia Education Program (Norway-Armenia cooperation), ISEKI, MUNDUS, JFDP, etc. Within Erasmus+KA1 ANAU collaborates with 26 Partner Universities, including Radboud University (Netherlands), Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Jagielonyan University (Poland), Tuscia University (Italy), Teramo University (Italy), University of Minho (Portugal), University of West Attica (Greece), University of Granada (Spain), BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Austria), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research in Agriculture etc. Besides, ANAU involved in 3 Erasmus+ KA2 Projects: ABIONET, TOPAS and SMARTI. It cooperates with various countries higher agricultural universities and numerous international and foreign organizations and foundations (USDA, SIDA, GTZ, FAO, UMCOR, ISTC, ICARDA, ICRA, Euronature, Heinz Fehr, Eurashe etc.) within bilateral and multilateral agreements, international programs and projects. ANAU holds an Agrarian Management double degree Program. Research projects are carried out in agrarian science: 6 research centers, 3 scientific branches and 2 scientific research institutes which aim at increasing the efficiency of agricultural production.
The Faculty of Bioscience and Technology for Food, Agriculture and Environment of the University of Teramo (UNITE), was funded in 2013 as join institution of the Faculty of Agriculture (born in 1998) and the Department of Food Science. It encompasses degree programmes related to the agro-food area: Food Science and Technology (1st and 2nd level Degree), Oenology and Viticulture (1st level), Gastronomic Sciences and Cultures For Sustainability (1st level), and Biotechnology (1st level) . UNITE is promoter of training initiatives in a Lifelong learning perspective and post-graduated master courses (e.g. Valorisation of the Protected geographical areas and Agro-food quality, GESLOPAN). UNITE hosts the Ph.D. degree programme on Food Science.
Research activities are carried out on various aspects of agro-food supply chain in 8 Research Units and properly equipped laboratories (Food Technology; Chemical Methodologies and Food Analysis; Agricultural economics; Food and environmental microbiology, Agronomy and Crop Sciences; Energy and Environment; Biochemistry). It was/is involved in various projects supported by national and international, public and private entities also in collaboration with food industries.
UNITE promotes transnational mobility of students between UNITE and other institutions through both ERASMUS+ projects and other international frameworks and is involved in other collaborative and cooperation programmes with no-EU countries.
UNITE was/is involved in several EU projects within the 7th FP under IDEAS, COOPERATION, PEOPLE, Marie-Curie programmes. In the agro-food field since 2005 UNITE was/is involved in Erasmus Academic Thematic Networks (ISEKI_Food2; ISEKI_Mundus; ISEKI_Food 3, and ISEKI_Mundus 2; I.S.L.E.) and in the FP7 KBBE Track_Fast. It is partner of a series of ERASMUS CB projects and the Knowledge Alliance EU FOOD-STA. It was the coordinator of the Erasmus TN ISEKI_Food 4 ( www.iseki-food4.eu) and currently coordinates the ERASMUS+ KA2 ASKFOOD ( www.askfood.eu).
A crucial task for the successful completion of the project, but also for the sustainability of the project’s results is the establishment of the Armenian Network of Excellence with the aim of delivery and manage effectively education, research, innovation in Bioproducts Technology and Sciences, by sharing the resources, skills, capacities between all involved partners.
Following the approval of its strategic plan by the Project Management Board of the project at the second quarter of 2020, the Armenian Network of Excellence in Bioproducts Technology and Sciences was established. All project partners are founding members, while the International Hellenic University bears the role of coordinator. More than 20 legal entities (Universities, research centers, enterprises, etc.) from four countries are already members of the Network.
The vision of the founders of the Network is to build an innovative education and research platform on bioproducts science and technology at national (Armenian) and international level, while the strategic objectives of the Center are:
Currently, all the project partners focus their efforts at the development of a joint degree scheme at postgraduate level between Armenian and European Universities, which will be a major output of the project and a cornerstone for the evolution of the Network.
Before the end of the project, a major event will take place in Armenia, if the conditions related to the pandemic allow it, in order to present the achievements until that time and the future objectives of the Network to the national and international scientific and business community.
An important part of every ERASMUS+ project is the mobility activities from partner countries’ HEIs to EU Universities, referring to either the staff or the students or both groups. The ABIONET project envisaged a well-structured activity of students’ mobility at the mature phase of the project lifecycle.
More specifically, a plan has been drafted between Armenian and EU universities for the development of Armenian students' start up projects. This is the first phase for the mobility of the students from Armenian to EU Universities, in order to prepare their final thesis work and to pilot their start up projects.
The implementation of students’ start up projects with the support EU partners via online collaboration is already on the way and the best students will visit their supervisors for two weeks to finalize their thesis works and to pilot their start up projects. Twelve students (3 from each one of the four Armenian Universities) will travel to EU HEIs for final thesis work and start up projects piloting.
All the preparation activities for the mobility of the students, which includes call for interest, selection procedure, identification of the host Institutions for selected fields has been finalized in all four Armenian HEIs. The actual mobility will take place during the last months of the project, provided that there will be no travel restrictions from Armenia to the hosting countries at that period of time.
“From Theoretical - Oriented to Practical Education in Agrarian Studies” (TOPAS) is a 36-month Erasmus+ program in which 10 Higher Education Institutions from Germany, Romania, Poland, the United Kingdom, Armenia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan cooperate in order to facilitate the transition from a teacher centered - knowledge based form of education - in former soviet inherited agricultural sciences higher education systems (Armenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan) - to a student centered - practice based form of learning. To achieve this, the partners are trying to enhance the cooperation between the universities and agrarian enterprises by introducing internship schemes to the educational process. Going beyond limits, TOPAS hopes to ensure improved employment potential for agriculture students, increased productivity and profitability in the farming sector and ultimately overall positive economic and social consequences on a societal level in the partner countries.
Coordinating Institution: HOCHSCHULE WEIHENSTEPHAN-TRIESDORF - Germany
EU Partners: University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Iaşi - Romania, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences - Poland, Writtle University College - UK
Partner Countries: Armenian National Agrarian University - Armenia, Yerevan State University - Armenia, National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine - Ukraine, Sumy National Agrarian University - Ukraine, Andijon Qishloq Hujaligi Institute - Uzbekistan, Samarkand Agricultural Institute - Uzbekistan
For more information visit: http://www.uaiasi.ro/topas/
The EU funded ABIONET Erasmus+ KA2 project is now in its fourth year. One of the Project key outputs is to modernize the university with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to meet the needs of a newly launched Master Program. In this context, ANAU can take pride in achieving tangible results following the purchase and testing of new specialist equipment as well as establishing a «Food Quality Control Educational Laboratory». It is critical to have a cutting-edge laboratory to address the needs of the labour market and to adopt a targeted approach when using these new facilities.
A training course was held at the «Food Quality Control Educational Laboratory» targeted at developing capacities in innovative technologies obtained in the frame of the AbioNet Project, and conducting Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) research. Given that the key priorities public health wise remain food quality control and safety, the ELISA research, being one of the most precise method for identifying chemical and microbiological risks in food and raw materials, makes it possible to identify hormones, antibiotics, acids, allergens, mycotoxins, viruses and bacteria in food products and raw materials. The ELISA research scope includes the fields of food safety, expertise, veterinary medicine, and healthcare.
ANAU academic staff members involved in the teaching of piloting Food Safety Master Program as well as within ABioNet the piloting Master students participated in the training. It is convinced that the «Food Quality Control Educational Laboratory with well-equipped modern facilities and its training capabilities will contribute to improving the quality of education, as well as to training competitive specialists in the labour market, both at the national and international level.
State University of Shirak continues its cooperation with "Gyumri Breeding Station" CJSC within the framework of the Erasmus + "Armenian Network of Excellence in Bio-Products Science and Technology" - ABioNet program, according to the memorandum signed between the parties.
Today the employees of "Gyumri Breeding Station" CJSC got acquainted with the microbiology and biotechnology laboratory created within the framework of the ABioNet program, the opportunities provided by modern laboratory equipment at the University.
The parties also discussed the further steps of cooperation and the forthcoming activities in the scope of organizing internships, research and graduation works for "Biotechnology" Master students.
During July-September 2020, due to the pandemic situation, the trainings provided by the Erasmus+ ABioNet program were conducted online, as a series of webinars on the latest methods of food product research. The webinars were conducted by leading professors from Teramo (Italy) and Hellenic International University (Greece). This was a unique opportunity for the students and lecturers of the Armenian universities participating in the program to get acquainted with the rich experience and achievements of our foreign partner universities in the mentioned field, to discuss the relevant issues with them.
From State University of Shirak, the lecturers involved in the works of the program, the students of the newly opened "Biotechnology" master's educational program, as well as the SUSh staff of the Erasmus + ABioNet program participated in those workshops.
The other series of webinars conducted online within the framework of the Erasmus+ ABioNet program, in which the above-mentioned working groups from SUSh are also participating, is related to the transfer of knowledge, the development of skills and abilities to write startup programs, practical writings (motivation letter, CV, etc.). This series of webinars, conducted by our partners from the Technical University of Dresden, started in October 2020 and continues to this day.
One of the important features of these works is that the TUD specialists also conduct English and German courses for the students and lecturers of SUSh, who were selected according to the results of the relevant competition, to carry out part of their studies and research works in the universities of Dresden, Porto, Teramo and Thessaloniki. In this regard, it should be said that the mentioned competition was held by the selection committee established by the order of the Acting Rector of SUSh, which includes representatives from the administrative and teaching staff, the student council and the staff of the ABioNet program.
The results of the survey conducted to find out the level of students' satisfaction with the above-mentioned webinars and program activities showed that they are generally satisfied and consider them necessary and up-to-date, and they want them to be held regularly.
The tenders for the purchase of additional equipment are over at SUSh, a part of them has already been acquired; in the coming days we will receive and install all the equipment, which will complete the furnishing of the biotechnology laboratory, the professional auditorium of "Biotechnology" master's degree program.
Within ABIONET project the laboratories at the Center of Excellence in Applied Biosciences and at the Department οf Ecology and Nature Protection of Yerevan State University were upgraded with state of art equipment to teach effectively the updated modules, but also to allow students to implement up the research components of their Thesis works. This is a very important and progressive part of the project, as it allows to expand facilities of the laboratories and make the graduates competitive in the emerging fields of Bioproducts technology and sciences .
Now in February 2021, we are happy to announce that the laboratories are open for the students, and they are able to work in the labs, following recommendations and safety measures during the COVID 19 pandemic. Everybody is excited and happy, lecturers, students, and also our PhDs.
All Armenian partners are ready to start discussions over the joint modules and research and entrepreneurial activities using joint resources.