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EghtesadOnline: The Iranian Fund for Innovation and Prosperity (NSFund) has approved a 2% cut in the interest rate of export loans in a renewed effort to help boost Iran-made knowledge-based products in the international market.

Knowledge-based firms can now receive export loans at 9%, Behzad Soltani, head of the fund said in a press release.

“Knowledge-based companies may apply for loans once they finalize an export deal with foreign companies. They will receive loans on par with the value of their contracts,” he added.

The firms would be obliged to start production for exports after they receive the loans, Soltani said and noted that repayment would start “after a negotiated grace period.”

“Firms can also apply for loans after exports. Such companies can take loans on par with the value of their exports at [an extra] 1% interest,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

Launched in 2008 as an independent entity, the fund is in charge of offering financial services to knowledge-based companies. However, firms need to be licensed by the Vice-Presidential Office for Science and Technology.

The fund started operation in 2013, after President Hassan Rouhani took office. NSFund’s loans and investments amounted to 14.9 trillion rials ($397 million) over the past two years (March 2015-17).

So far 3,037 knowledge-based companies are registered with the vice presidency including 1,751 startups, 867 firms active in production sector and 419 industrial knowledge-based firms.

Firms involved in biotech, medicine and medical equipment accounted for the largest portion of the revenue earned–3.6 trillion rials ($96 million) in the past two years.

The government insists on the need to gradually shift from an oil-based to a knowledge-based economy. It has introduced incentives for knowledge-based firms, including tax holidays and the NSFund to muster support.

The Vice Presidency for Science and Technology Affairs, Ministry of Economy, Central Bank of Iran, and the Planning and Budget Organization have also developed a comprehensive plan which aims to promote investments in the globally expanding sector. The plan is currently in parliament awaiting  approval.

Iran Knowledge-Based Products NSFund Iran NSFund