EghtesadOnline: Iran’s major automaker Iran Khodro (IKCO) has signed a research and development agreement with the Iran University of Science and Technology to expand cooperation and technologically upgrade its products.
During a Tuesday visit to the company, Jabbar Ali Zakeri, dean of the university, and IKCO’s CEO Farshad Moqimi signed a deal on expanding their collaboration, Mehr News Agency reported.
The deal calls for implementing tech research projects related to the automaker’s new production strategies, detecting flaws and troubleshooting the production chain.
Furthermore, the deal envisages developing logistic plans, upgrading the production technology and manufacturing a series of auto parts via state-of-the-art technology with the help of academic experts and university’s laboratory facilities.
The university is also to hold educational and practical workshops for IKCO’s professionals and managers to upgrade their working strategies with modern knowledge and technologies.
In addition, the automaker committed to helping the graduates commercialize their tech products and research attainments, and offering consultation to senior students willing to work in the field of automotive industry to create a well-developed dissertation.
In a similar move, the Iran University of Science and Technology entered into an agreement with another giant automaker SAIPA in late June to help the company upgrade its products with new technologies.
The deal envisaged establishing a specialized taskforce to design joint projects, absorb university graduates in industrial units as technical and scientific advisors, conducting research using university facilities and strengthening the academic center’s role in SAIPA’s new projects.
The automaker said it intends to seek the help of university graduates, professionals and tech units set up in the academic center to systematically transfer new technologies and knowhow to automotive production lines.
The officials believed that universities should get more involved with key industries, especially the automotive sector, to help upgrade systems and expedite domestic production.
The academia, tech ecosystem and industry can forge synergy to protect the domestic economy from the headwinds caused by US sanctions.
Curbing reliance on foreign suppliers has been the ultimate goal of Iran’s economic sector, including auto production, which has compelled the two major automakers, IKCO and SAIPA, to forge ties with the academia.
In mid-May, IKCO said it is starting cooperation with the Electronics Support Fund for Research and Development to upgrade its production facilities.
Affiliated with the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade, the fund is geared toward connecting knowledge-based companies with major industrial units, helping both to develop their businesses.
In February, Iranian auto parts manufacturer SAPCO signed multiple agreements with domestic knowledge-based companies, as part of efforts for minimizing dependency on foreign suppliers.
SAPCO, which is a major parts supplier for IKCO and SAIPA, signed 80 agreements with tech firms in a wide range of fields, including the production of electronic stability control system, hydraulic wheel for IKCO's Peugeot 206 model and refrigerant gas used in vehicles' cooling system.
The deals were signed during a tech event that was underway at the time in Tehran.
During the tech event, IKCO introduced 219 technological needs of its production line and invited tech units to offer smart solutions.
Defense Ministry Stepping In
Iran’s Defense Ministry has also extended help to bolster automotive productivity and curb reliance on foreign auto part suppliers.
In early June 2019, the ministry started to share its technological capabilities with local car companies.
With the ministry's support, homegrown substitutes for key imported car parts were supposed to be produced in Iran to curb the industry’s reliance on the global supply chain.
At present, IKCO has contracts with several ministry-affiliated firms and nine knowledge-based companies in 29 auto production projects.
According to IKCO, these collaborations have resulted in the localization of 51 key auto parts, preventing the capital flight of up to €127 million per year, which figure will further increase when the new agreements come on stream.
In December 2019, IKCO was to utilize the technical and engineering expertise of eight industrial companies affiliated with the Defense Ministry.
The initiative to increase the share of domestic auto part production was first launched by the Industries Ministry that also hailed similar moves by other carmakers.
IKCO has signed several agreements with domestic SMEs since the last fiscal year (started March 2019) to mass-produce 32 other auto parts, which are expected to save up to €16.7 million annually.
Industry insiders hope that the efforts will yield sustainable benefits for the domestic auto industry.