EghtesadOnline: The Iranian government is a step closer to achieving its long-sought objective of involving the private sector in the startup and knowledge-based ecosystem with the inauguration of a privately-owned technology park branded as Tehran Innovation Factory.
It has taken two months to set up the center, which is the first private science and technology park established across the country.
Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari praising the establishment of the Innovation Factory as a great step forward described the activities of the center for reporters, according to Financial Tribune.
He maintained that the Innovation Factory will be managed under the authority of the tech park of the Sharif University of Technology, and in its first phase houses 14 teams of entrepreneurs, reported ILNA.
The center’s director Akbar Abdollahi says they have accommodated teams and companies with initial ideas in the Innovation Factory and will give them support until they can independently operate in the market and offer their products and services.
Pointing to legal and financial support for these teams, he added, “The number of teams accommodated in the Innovation Factory will reach 25 by March 2019 from the current 14.”
According to Abdollahi, they have attracted 220 billion rials ($2.3 million) in investment for the teams and will distribute the money based on each team’s potential.
According to the Innovation Factory’s website, it is backed by two major Iranian startup accelerators Shezan and Avatech.
The Innovation Factory has been established at an abandoned chemicals factory near Azadi Square west of Tehran.
Sattari says one of his priorities is to collaborate with Tehran Municipality to transform abandoned buildings into tech parks that can be used to foster innovative ideas.
While only the first phase of the park has become operational, Sattari says the fully functional center will provide startups active in such fields as nanotechnology, biotechnology, water, energy, environment, city services, transportation, health and information and communications technology, with 40,000 square meters of working space.
Currently, 30 teams have enrolled with the center to work at the park, with the majority of them involved in the water and energy sector. Team members mostly have master’s or Ph.D. degrees and are between 25 and 35 years old.
Sattari also visited an accelerator active in the e-health sector which has been allocated a working space in the Innovation Factory. Dubbed “Kara” (meaning efficient in Persian), the accelerator is the first of its kind and currently supports 14 startups.
Sattari’s end game for the knowledge-based companies is to clear the way for them to start exporting their products. He says currently knowledge-based companies’ exports amount to $400 million.
On a hopeful note, he adds that “next year [starts in March 2019] the number will reach $1 billion. We export products to more than 60 countries.”
A few weeks ago the official announced they have activated more than 50 technology centers across the country to aid knowledge-based firms’ expansion both at home and abroad.
The centers, titled Tech-Export Services Corridor (TESC), aim to facilitate the export process by offering marketing and consultancy services and initiating dialogue between Iranian and foreign companies.
Global Innovation Index
Pointing to Tehran’s capacity to turn into a smart city, Sattari said according to the Global Innovation Index, Tehran is among the top 50 metropolises around the world when it comes to technology.
The Global Innovation Index is an annual ranking of countries by their capacity for, and success in, innovation and is based on both subjective and objective data derived from several sources, including the International Telecommunication Union, the World Bank and the World Economic Forum.
Iran has been ranked 65th in the Global Innovation Index 2018, rising 10 positions from last year.
According to Sattari, Tehran’s universities and human capital make it well suited for advancements in the sector.
Sattari is very optimistic about the growth prospects of knowledge-based companies and startups in Iran. He says there are over 450 knowledge-based firms and startups which have been supported by the Tehran-based Sharif University of Technology.