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EghtesadOnline: Following the example of Tehran, major Iranian cities such as Qom, Karaj and Shiraz are also investing in technology centers, which are expected to boost their startup ecosystems.

As per a trilateral agreement signed on Saturday between the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, Qom Tech Park and the University of Religions and Denominations, an innovation factory will be established in the shrine city, ISNA reported.

The project, located at the university, spans over 1,000 hectares. The complex is set to be run by Qom Tech Park authorities. 

According to Akhavan Alavi, the head of the tech park, the innovation factory is aimed at developing a knowledge-based economy, expanding the local innovation ecosystem, increasing the share of knowledge-based production and services, boosting economic productivity and utilizing the domestic scientific and technological potentials. 

“Startup teams will be able to use the facilities and shared working places at the would-be factory for six months. The services should act as a driving force for the tech teams to develop their innovative ideas,” he said.

Alavi noted that the first phase of the project will become operational by the current fiscal yearend (March 2021).



Factory in Karaj

Authorities in Karaj, the provincial center of Alborz, have zeroed in on developing tech infrastructure to further promote the startup ecosystem in the metropolis.

Mohammad Nabyouni, the head of Alborz Elite Foundation, said a tech factory project will soon be inaugurated in the city. 

The project is in line with the government’s policy of strengthening the role of knowledge-based companies in the domestic economy.

Nabyouni said urban management issues will be specifically targeted by the tech factory.

“Startup teams and knowledge-based firms working on waste management, environment, public health, smart city, culture and agriculture, who are willing to operate at the factory in the near future, are invited to submit their applications with the foundation’s website”

Last year in June, Sorena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology, visited the underway project in Hesar District, east of the city.

He said the factory is to be developed in an underdeveloped building over an area of 1.5 hectares. 

"The 10-year-old building, which is 80% complete, was intended to become a firefighting school. But with a change in plans, the project managers abandoned the repurposing plan," Sattari said at the time.

“The building already has classrooms, restaurants and a dormitory. However, the main layout of the building might be reshaped into five sections for improving administration.”

The project is the result of a joint agreement signed last summer by contractor companies, Karaj Municipality and the vice presidential office.



Tech Ecosystem in Shiraz

Based on a deal signed by six entities last year in June, Shiraz in Fars Province is now home to a startup factory.

The project to establish an innovation factory at ITMC in the city is a joint initiative of the vice presidential office, Fars Governorate, Information and Communications Technologies Ministry, Iranian Telecommunications Manufacturing Company, ICT Science and Technology Park and Attar Holding Company.

The factory is a two-story building covering 7,000 square meters. Its first phase was inaugurated in mid-April, but after Covid-19 spread in the country, the factory remained inactive. 

The building currently provides workspace for 850 people. 

According to Alireza Samimi, the head of the factory, the capacity will be expanded to 1,500 employees when the second phase comes on stream in the near future. 



Nationwide Push

The push for establishing innovation factories and tech parks has gained momentum in numerous Iranian cities over the past several years.

Innovation factories continue to be launched in Iranian metropolises with the support of the vice presidential office to expand the startup and knowledge-based ecosystems.

Over the past few years, numerous tech parks have been established throughout the country. 

According to reports, innovation factory projects in the provinces of Markazi and Khorasan Razavi are almost complete and will become operational in the coming months. 

Innovation factory projects in the provinces of Yazd and East Azarbaijan are almost complete and will become operational in the near future.

The Roads and Urban Development Ministry, municipalities and governorates in the host cities are assisting the vice presidential office in implementing these projects.  

At the innovation factories, startups and knowledge-based companies find legal, technical and financial support to expand their activities.

Officials believe that developing the technology ecosystem and extending its share in the domestic economy are the only way for curbing the country’s dependency on oil revenues and materializing a knowledge-based economic structure. 


Tehran Shiraz startup Karaj ecosystems