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EghtesadOnline: Two innovation centers will open in Karaj, the provincial center of Alborz, and Isfahan next week, the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism, an affiliate of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, announced.

The centers, according to Alireza Qolinejad, the head of RICHT's Technology Office, are local historical houses that have been renovated and retrofitted for tech-based activities, Mehr News Agency reported. 

"The centers will provide shared working space for startups interested in working on tourism," he said.

"RICHT currently supports 90 startups in its two Tehran-based tech houses. With the opening of the new innovation centers, more tourism-oriented tech teams will be able to join the institute and take advantage of its resources."

In recent years, the Iranian government's policies have focused on supporting the local technology ecosystem to reduce the country's reliance on foreign resources and transform the traditional economy into a knowledge-based system.

State institutions and academic centers pursuing this goal are increasingly offering financial aid packages and establishing shared offices across the country.

Tabriz in East Azarbaijan Province is another city where a new startup growth center is being established.

The center, supported by the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology as well as provincial authorities, aims to encourage local entrepreneurs, assist them in commercializing their innovative products and increase employment in the province.

The tech center, according to the news, specializes in the design and manufacture of industrial tool kits and machinery parts, as well as the development of smart solutions in reverse engineering, performance analysis and problem detection strategies.

In a similar move, the Qazvin Chamber of Commerce has joined forces with the vice presidential office and the Iran Technical and Vocational Training Organization to establish a technology center by the end of the current Iranian year (March 2022).

The center, according to provincial officials, will focus on robotics, artificial intelligence and the internet of things.



Academia Joins the Move 

As the outstanding achievements of technology ecosystem attract different sectors to make investments in the field, universities nationwide have stepped in to extend support to tech teams.

In late September, Kerman’s Islamic Azad University and Science and Technology Park established a growth center to provide technical support (from university graduates and tech park mentors) and financial support (from university resources and private investors) to eager startups.

The first phase of an innovation center was established by Salman Farsi University in Kazeroun, Fars Province, with 6 billion rials ($20,000) from the vice presidential office. 

In February, Sorena Sattari, the vice president for technology, inaugurated three tech centers at the Tehran-based Amirkabir University of Technology.

Focused on energy and physics, space science and civil engineering, these tech centers will commercialize students’ ideas by offering legal, technical and market consultancies.

With the addition of three new centers, the university is now hosting eight innovative teams.

Hossein Hosseini, the university’s deputy for research and technology, said the tech centers are aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and technological innovation among students and faculty members. 

Besides forming innovation centers and attracting tech teams, universities can utilize their scientific edge to help startups.  

Such efforts are a synergetic move to advance the tech ecosystems of Tehran and other Iranian cities.

In late January, Sharif University of Technology in Tehran and Astan Quds Razavi, an economic conglomerate in Khorasan Razavi Province, launched an innovation factory adjacent to Ferdowsi University in Mashhad.

The center is specialized in the renovation of medical equipment and clinical devices, which will help save $420 million annually.

In addition, Zanjan University of Medical Sciences joined hands with the vice presidential office to invest 320 billion rials ($1 million) in an innovation center to develop unique ideas and commercialize tech-based plans in a wide range of health fields.

Golestan University of Medical Sciences also hosts an innovation center working on health technology, which offers virtual visits for clinical diagnosis and post-treatment support and consultancy.

The center is also providing technical, scientific and commercial assistance to innovative teams and aiding efforts to commercialize their ideas.



Countrywide Projects

Over the past few years, numerous tech parks and innovation factories have been established throughout the country to offer shared workspace and other facilities to tech units.

There are seven tech parks in Tehran Province, most of which are backed by major Iranian universities, including Tarbiat Modares University, University of Tehran, Sharif University of Technology, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University and Islamic Azad University. 

These tech parks carry the name of universities backing them.

Innovation factories in Tehran, such as Azadi and Highway, have also attracted numerous tech teams and startups.

Azadi Innovation Factory was launched in August 2018 at an abandoned chemicals factory near Azadi Square, west of Tehran. The center is backed by the vice presidential office for science and technology and managed by Sharif University of Technology.

Highway, the capital's second innovation factory, is under construction. The factory is being established in an old building near Nobonyad Square on the northeastern flank of Tehran.

Tehran is not alone in its push for establishing innovation factories and tech parks. Numerous centers have also been launched across Iran.

The vice presidential office is developing innovation factories in Iranian metropolises like Zanjan, Isfahan, Tabriz, Karaj and Yazd to expand startup and knowledge-based ecosystems.

At the innovation factories, startups and knowledge-based companies receive legal, technical and financial assistance to develop their activities.

With the extension of infrastructural and financial support, people active in the tech ecosystem are propelling Iran’s domestic production sector to end the economy’s oil dependency and help overcome sanctions.


Tech tourism Alborz