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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s major automaker SAIPA is strengthening cooperation with the University of Science and Technology to upgrade its products with the state-of-the-art technology.

During a Saturday visit to the production lines of SAIPA, the company’s CEO Javad Soleimani and Mohammad Hossein Shojaeifard, the dean of the university’s research faculty, signed a deal on expansion of collaborations, Asb-e Bokhar auto news website reported. 

The deal calls for establishing a specialized taskforce to design joint projects, absorb university graduates in the industrial unit as technical and scientific advisors, conduct research using university facilities and strengthen the role of academic center in SAIPA’s new projects.

They also discussed ways of further expanding ties for the benefit of both sides.

Soleimani said SAIPA intends to seek the help of university graduates, professionals and tech units born in the academic center to systematically transfer new technologies and knowhow to the automotive production lines. 

Also speaking at the event, Shojaeifard emphasized that universities should get more involved with key industries, especially the automotive sector, to help upgrade systems and expedite domestic production.

“The university’s research center has a considerable potential in terms of scientific level and equipment, which can be tapped to become SAIPA’s hub of research and experiment,” he added. 

The academia, tech ecosystem and industry can forge synergy to protect the domestic economy from the headwinds caused by US sanctions.



Key Triggers

Curbing reliance on foreign resources has been the ultimate goal of Iran’s economic sector, including auto production, which has compelled the two major automakers, Iran Khodro Company (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. 

Back 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’s Cooperation 

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 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.


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