EghtesadOnline: The 10th International Innovation and Technology Exhibition of Iran (INOTEX 2021) wrapped up on Friday after naming the best startups.
The event was launched on May 18 at Pardis Technology Park in eastern Tehran. Over 350 startups and knowledge-based companies showcased their products to more than 20,000 visitors and 35,000 virtual audiences, the INOTEX website reported.
On the sidelines of the show, three competition programs featured participating startups in the categories named INOTEX battle, Pitch and Star-cup.
In the closing ceremony, attended by Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari and Sajjad Abbasi, INOTEX executive secretary, each competition category had its winners.
Imen NanoFam Company, a Zanjan-based producer of nanotechnology chemical material, won the INOTEX battle section.
Rapid X, a startup producing rapid colorectal cancer test kits, was announced as the best team in the INOTEX pitch section.
Activa, which offered a solution for fruit waste management, was the runner-up in the category.
Namaline, a virtual exhibition platform developer, was announced the third winner in the pitch section.
In star-cup category, Peytam and Homa teams were announced winners. The category employed FIFA and PES championship games.
Peytam is a startup working on outsourcing organizations’ customer services and Homa works on the installation of smart electric systems in residential and industrial spaces.
Browsing the exhibition on the closing day, Pardis Mayor Morteza Hemmati said urban managers are keen on establishing a strong link with tech teams working on smart urban development and management.
“Pardis Municipality is ready to support the unique ideas and upgrade the city with modern technologies,” he added.
Sajjad Abbasi, the event’s secretary, said, “This year, we carefully studied the startup ecosystem and invited players from various fields … We have invited inventors, startups, accelerators, venture capitalists, the media, event holders, angel investors, mentors and knowledge-based firms to the event.”
Abbasi gave a detailed account of the event’s history, taking participants back to the year 2012 when they launched the regular expo by inviting foreign technology firms to introduce their latest achievements and services to Iranians.
He said they have included local firms in the exhibition since 2014.
“From 2014 to 2016, we only welcomed technology firms. However, after witnessing the rapid growth of Iran’s startup ecosystem in the country, we decided to invite fledgling companies as well.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, last year’s exhibition was held online. It was a unique exhibition, as it was the first fully virtual exhibition held in Iran.
Despite its huge technical and logistical pressure for the organizers, INOTEX 2020 hosted over 400 exhibitors and 20,000 online visitors.
Considering the constant interactions between government bodies and startups, INOTEX has tried to establish links between the two spheres.
Regarding the presence of the international audience, the event also offered an opportunity for the tech teams to broaden their markets overseas and attract foreign investors to promote exports.
Tech experts and officials believe greater financial support should be directed to boost knowledge-based exports.
Iran National Innovation Fund, a state-backed institution supporting the technology ecosystem, is planning to achieve the goal by designing a scheme that offers tech firms four kinds of support, namely loans, warranties, investments and empowerment services.
Siavash Malekifar, a deputy at the fund, said tech firms undertaking international trade can receive financial support, foreign leasing and other services to expand their export market.
“Offering grants worth 800 million rials [$3,470] to firms for attending foreign expos is one of the other services offered by the fund to help tech firms develop foreign business ties,” he said.
According to the official, export centers were established in China, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq and Kyrgyzstan last year, which showed high capacity for introducing Iranian high-tech products to the target market.
“After opening a tech hub in Kenya in late January and in Syria last week, officials are holding talks to open similar centers in Afghanistan, Qatar, Oman and hopefully Bosnia,” he added.
Malekifar said export centers provide tech firms with shared working space, the opportunity to employ local professionals for marketing their products in small-scale exhibitions, market analysis and sales consultancy, in addition to deploying commercial teams for publicizing the firms and attracting customers.
In mid-March, Esmaeil Qaderifar, a senior official with the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, said the sales of Iranian startups and knowledge-based companies in domestic and foreign markets reached 1.8 quadrillion rials ($7.8 billion) in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2021).
Qaderifar added that tech firms' earnings have been rising over the past few years, reaching 1.2 quadrillion rials ($5.24 billion) in the year ending March 2019 and 1.5 quadrillion rials ($6.55 billion) in the fiscal 2019-20 from 600 trillion rials ($2.62 billion) in the fiscal 2017-18.
The official noted that the number will continue to grow in the current Iranian year.
“The growth has been achieved despite hurdles. The reimposition of US sanctions against Iran in the summer of 2018 and the Covid outbreak in February 2020 have been blessings in disguise for the technology ecosystem,” he said.
Tech firms spearheaded localization efforts while profiting from extensive state support and zero foreign competition.
According to Qaderifar, startups and tech companies, primarily engaged in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communications technologies, and aerospace, are increasingly gaining a larger share of Iran's economy.
“In addition to tech achievements in transportation, auto manufacturing, mining and steel industries, a large portion of medical and laboratory equipment have been indigenized, and 98% of medicines on the domestic market are produced in Iran,” he said.
“This is the outcome of putting faith in the young, talented generation. We expect the ecosystem to become a game-changer in the domestic economy, reducing Iran's reliance on foreign resources.”
Iran has over five million university students who are a vital element of the country's development efforts.
Qaderifar said public and private sectors should take advantage of this opportunity to invest in the young generation to maximize their potential and achieve long-term benefits.