EghtesadOnline: The Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, a strong supporter of technology ecosystem, has taken several additional steps for promoting knowledge-based companies and startups, including the launch of tech centers and providing workspace.
During an event on Sunday, Sorena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology, inaugurated a center for promoting innovation in data-oriented businesses at the National Library and Archives of Iran, Peivast reported.
The center, which is expected to become operational by the end of the current Iranian year (March 2021), provides working places for entrepreneurs and owners of startup ideas in the field of librarianship and archival science.
Underlining the necessity of strengthening the Persian language in cyberspace, Sattari said the digitalization of the library’s archive and promotion of online accessibility, as well as production of scientific content, will not only help the digital ecosystem but also strengthen Iranian culture in the digital and real world.
As an initial move, connecting the library’s treasury to modern technologies can pave the way for the use of artificial intelligence in the field and even larger steps, he added.
At the inaugural event, Ashraf Boroujerdi, the head of NLA, said the tech center is aimed at converting library services into a smart system, providing tech teams and entrepreneurs with the library’s database, and extending the joined achievement to other public institutions.
She expressed hope that the tech center will be a link between the valuable treasury kept at the library and the technology ecosystem.
Also present at the event, Babak Zendehdel, an official with NLA, said utilizing the local potentials and entrepreneurship of the tech ecosystem is necessary for upgrading a library’s productivity, stressing that by neglecting innovative ideas and technology, no organization can survive in the market.
“The only way to meet today’s demand for the collection, process and presentation of classified information in a systematic and speedy manner, is to embed modern technology in the workplace,” he said.
In line with the government’s support for fledgling startups, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran is mulling over launching a health technology complex at the university campus.
The center is to gather tech units, accelerators, growth centers and mentors to support startup teams and innovators born in the university.
Afshin Rezqi, the university’s deputy for research and technology, told reporters that negotiations with the vice presidential office has come to an agreement and the complex will be partly launched in September.
“The center will be able to house some 100 knowledge-based companies and tech firms working in different medical fields and up to four accelerators,” he said.
Creating job opportunities, boosting domestic production and consequently curbing capital flights due to the import of medical items are the most valuable contributions of the complex.
“It is expected that over 150 graduates and professionals, along with a number of tech enthusiasts, will be employed at the tech complex,” he said.
Officials are extending support for startups, tech firms and knowledge-based companies severely hit by the negative effects of the Covid-19 outbreak in mid-February.
As per an agreement forged between the vice presidential office and Tehran Municipality in early April, startups and tech firms are allowed to use residential buildings as workplaces.
Ever since, some 200 knowledge-based companies and tech firms have settled in 4,000 square meters of residential areas in the capital city.
Tehran Mayor Pirouz Hanachi said, “The eligible startups will be allowed to continue their work in the residential buildings for three months at most, until the Covid-19 emergency ends.”
In March, the state-backed Iran National Innovation Fund announced that it is planning to pay 50 trillion rials ($228.3 million) in loans to knowledge-based companies and tech firms to boost their operations.
With the Covid-19 outbreak distorting the Iranian startup ecosystem’s prospects, the state fund is extending an aid package to the sector.
According to INIF chief Ali Vahdat, over 300 firms expressed interest in receiving the fund, although the most eligible will be selected for financial help, the institution’s website Inif.ir reported.
Central Bank Steps In
The Central Bank of Iran had also announced its full support for tech firms, which could help them weather the current tough conditions.
During a meeting with senior INIF officials in mid-March, CBI Governor Abdolnasser Hemmati said the bank is willing to allocate financial support to help the tech ecosystem flourish.
Pointing to INIF’s endeavors in the past several years, Hemmati said that in order to strengthen startups and knowledge-based companies, support centers will be established in all provinces, which will ease startups’ access to legal and financial support.
Besides the provincial funding centers, plans are under consideration to set up offices for offering specialized services to firms active in the fields of nanotechnology, social innovative services and the internet of things, he added.
According to INIF, 4,800 knowledge-based companies are currently active nationwide and employ over 300,000 people.