Philip Morris International has invested over USD 16 million in Armenia in 5 years. The investments were directed to education and development of science: the company provided about 120 scholarships for graduate students, financed more than 80 PhD students, as well as 70-80 scientific researches.
All this, as Philip Morris International Product General Manager Bin Li told the Global Innovation Forum GIF22 in Yerevan, was done as part of the company's transformation program: from a traditional tobacco company to a truly innovative one.
Bin Li is a process engineer and, at first glance, has nothing to do with the tobacco industry.
"The tobacco company, which has been around for more than 170 years, hired me because it planned to radically change and enter new manufacturing industries based on innovation and science," Bin Li said.
Philip Morris International is one of the pioneers in tobacco harm reduction today, he said.
"Our goal is to have 50 percent of the company's revenue coming from smokeless products by 2025. To achieve that goal, we need major changes. Change really starts with creating opportunities for innovation and new products," Li said.
The company now aims to create a device that will regulate the temperature of a burning cigarette so that no smoke or other harmful products are produced, he said. Such a product would pose less health and environmental risks.
"In order for us to achieve our goals, we need serious multidisciplinary work, we need to transform into a technologically advanced company based on scientific approaches. To achieve these goals, we have made significant investments over the past 10 years. Specifically, PMI works with nearly 1,000 scientists, engineers and technicians from around the world. Worldwide, the company has invested more than $9 billion, presented more than 450 scientific papers and created more than 1,800 patents. As you can see, we've completely reinvented ourselves from a company with a 170-year history to a science and technology company."
Five years ago, PMI came to Armenia, which Li says has a wealth of experience in scientific research.
"We are very pleased with our cooperation. In Armenia, we have already invested $16 million – to support the development of science and education. We have provided about 120 scholarships for master's degree students, financed research works of more than 80 PhD students as well as 70-80 scientific researches. We will be glad to expand our scientific and innovative activities in Armenia," he added.