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EghtesadOnline: Two Iranian startups specialized in sports will unveil their latest products during the 19th International Exhibition of Sports, Sporting Goods and Equipment (also called SPORTEX 2020) now underway at Tehran's International Fairground since Saturday.

With the support of the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, the startups have developed smartphone applications that provide free sports training at different levels, Mehr News Agency reported.

Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs Masoud Soltanifar is to unveil the startups.

The first startup to be unveiled is called Mobile Gym, which is a group gym workout application providing a wide gamut of exercises. The other is Unit Gym, an application that provides a comprehensive workout routine suitable for personal in-home use.

Both apps obviate the need to attend an actual gym. They are especially ideal for sports lovers who do not want to risk their health during the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.

The aforementioned startups are not the first such applications, as there are numerous apps designed with general or specific pieces of training. However, they are mostly carbon copies of foreign samples or lack a strong structure to support a high number and variety of exercises.

Held by Iran’s Public Sports Federation, SPORTEX 2020 showcases a series of cutting-edge sports equipment for team sports developed by Iranian and foreign exhibitors. These include sports equipment used in soccer, volleyball, basketball, handball, wrestling, swimming, fitness and martial arts, as well as various entertaining sports.

The exhibition will run until Sept. 29.



Tech Ecosystem in New Fields

Sports is one of the newest fields that the growing tech ecosystem has reached.

Since the government announced its policies on supporting knowledge-based companies and fledgling startups in 2013 when President Hassan Rouhani took office for the first term, the technology ecosystem has flourished in many fields. 

Officials believe that tech firms are helping upgrade almost all sectors while gradually transforming the traditional economy into a knowledge-based one.

For instance, with the help of the vice presidential office, knowledge-based companies and tech firms have forge ties with industrial, art, agriculture, petrochemical and health centers to inject modern technologies into conventional sectors. 

A month ago, the vice presidential office signed an agreement with Iran Small Industries and Industrial Parks Organization affiliated to the Industries Ministry. 

The deal was aimed at encouraging the establishment of innovative industrial units, expanding the reach of technology ecosystem to the industrial sector and upgrading the quality level in the products and services offered by small- and medium-sized industrial enterprises.

In addition, Mohammad Hossein Sajjadi, the head of Soft Technologies Development Headquarters at the vice presidential office, and Qader Ashena, the head ofCulture Ministry’s Department of Performing Arts, has signed a deal to support startups and tech firms working on performing arts, especially theater performances, and boost the economic profitability of the sector.

Flourishing the art sector and upgrading the technological infrastructures of national art-based festivals are also envisaged in the deal.

Recently, a startup accelerator signed a deal with state-backed Iran National Innovation Fund to prepare the ground for tech firms to enter the medical and health market.

According to Arian Aqili, the head of the accelerator, the fund will provide startups and knowledge-based companies with financial assistance for producing a prototype for medical items and carrying out preliminary examinations.

Instead, he added, the accelerator will receive a share of the tech firms’ profit after they commercialize their products.

Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, probiotic and functional foods, nanotechnology targeted therapy for cancer, scar patches, medicine and health-protective items such as sanitizers are subjects explored by the accelerator. 

A similar initiative was launched in late April by INIF with an investment of 140 billion rials ($483,000) in nanotechnology firms to boost the domestic production of health-protective items used for stemming the transmission of coronavirus.

According to the fund’s website, Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council helped INIF sign contracts with eligible knowledge-based companies.

Mohammad Ali Bahreini, the head of Nano-Fund Department at the council, said the contracts are geared toward the production of N95 and N99 facemasks needed by the medical staff treating Covid-19 patients. 

The contract will help upgrade machinery, especially electrospinning machines, used in the production of masks.

Electrospinning is a fiber production method that uses electric force to draw charged threads of polymer solutions or polymer melts up to fiber diameters to the tune of some hundred nanometers. 

The method has the potential to produce seamless non-woven items by integrating advanced manufacturing with fiber electrospinning. This would introduce multi-functionality (flame, chemical, environmental protection) by blending fibers into electrospin-laced layers in combination with polymer coatings. 


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