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EghtesadOnline: Iran’s leading medical school and one of the country’s top tech universities have joined forces to combat the coronavirus disease, Covid-19.

To this end, an online startup event titled “Technology at the Service of Health” was jointly held on Wednesday by Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Amir Kabir University of Technology, reported.

The heads of several hospitals and directors of several tech teams specializing in health technology attended the gathering.

Reportedly, hospitals facing a shortage of medical equipment, presented a list of their requirements, asking for solutions and the help of startups.

Their list included personal protection tools like facemasks and clinical devices, including oxygen generators, Covid-19 test kits and ventilators.

Tech units also introduced their latest achievements, services and products in the sphere of medical technology.

Kayvan Fard, a member of MAPVA Industrial Group—a Tehran-based tech center, present at the event, introduced a blood oxygen meter developed by the group.

The oxygen meter has a clip-like device called a probe that is placed on a body part, such as finger or earlobe. The probe uses light to measure how much oxygen is in the blood.

Fard said MAPVA has provided several hospitals in the capital with the product since the coronavirus started spreading in the country in mid-February. He added that the industrial group is ready to start the mass production of the device, alleviating the medical centers’ shortages.

Synapse, a tech firm at Samsung AUT Tech (a substitute of Amir Kabir University of Technology), was the other knowledge-based group present at the conference. Specialized in equipping hospitals with smart technologies, the firm converts the documented information of visiting patients and converts them into digital data.

The database is connected to Synapse’s smartphone application called “InLab” that can be used by physicians and other medical staff. The app gives the doctors full remote access and helps them review patients’ test results and write prescriptions.  

Nano Khavar industrial group, producer of nanotechnology respiratory masks, and Parsian Mehr Group, producer of air purifying filters, also introduced their products to hospitals.

The event organizers say such events should be held more frequently in case they prove to be beneficial.



Provincial Attainments

Efforts to strengthen the medical sector for combating the Covid-19 disease is not limited to the capital city. Similar initiatives for strengthening ties between the firms and medical centers have been launched in other cities and provinces.

The northeastern province of Golestan will house the third factory producing medical oxygen in the near future, the head of provincial industries, mining and trade organization, affiliated to the namesake ministry, said.

Meeting heads of several knowledge-based companies on Thursday, Hossein Toloueian added that the would-be factory will boost the medical oxygen supply for medical centers.

He added that the two operating firms have the capacity to produce around 1,000 hospital oxygen capsules, 40 kilograms each, per day.

“The private sector has invested 200 billion rials ($862,000) in the project,” Toloueian said.

With the increasing number of Covid-19 infections in the province, Toloueian added that hospitals' demand for health-protective products is rising.

“Followed by the state and the private sector’s support for knowledge-based companies, the local production of disinfectants has increased from 15,000 to 100,000 liters per day,” he said.

“In pre-Covid days, the province had zero respiratory mask production. Local firms now make 300,000 masks a day. The current capacity can be boosted to 500,000 masks daily.”

All the way to the west, a knowledge-based company in Kermanshah Province has fulfilled the local hospitals’ need for facemasks.

Touraj Shirzadian, an official with Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, said the company produces a variety of facemasks, including three-layer, N95 and N99.

Shirzadian said the company’s output reaches 20,000 masks per day, which meets the demand of the province’s medical staff and official employees.

Extending efficient health protection against Covid-19 is a priority of Iranian officials. The government, however, has put great efforts into developing the technology ecosystem for bridging the shortfalls.

The state’s support has reportedly paid off, as startups and tech firms are helping boost the production capacities of high-tech medical items. 



State Support

Tech firms and knowledge-based companies have been severely hit by the negative effects of the outbreak, despite their efforts to help buttress the fight against the coronavirus, startups. 

As a result, Iranian authorities are increasing support for these entities.

In mid-March, the government-backed Iran National Innovation Fund announced that it is planning to loan 50 trillion rials ($215.5 million) to knowledge-based companies and tech firms to boost their operations.

According to INIF chief, Ali Vahdat, some 200 firms have expressed interest in receiving the fund, although only the most eligible recipient will be selected.

“The move is aimed at increasing the production of health-protective items needed during the pandemic, including facemasks, hand sanitizers, alcohol-based disinfectants and medical air disinfectant machinery, along with antibacterial fabrics and covers for hospital use,” he said.

To receive the loan and start production, the applicant knowledge-based company should be certified by all the institutions involved, including Iran’s Food and Drug Administration and Health Ministry.

Vahdat noted that the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology and Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council have agreed to scrutinize the credentials of applicants and introduce the final list of eligible firms.

Referring to the spread of novel coronavirus in the country, Vahdat said the pandemic cannot be controlled without utilizing the potentials of the domestic tech ecosystem.

“The country’s knowledge-based economy, which has currently grown significantly, is being helped by young entrepreneurs and tech teams to withstand the negative effects of the disease,” he added.

The coronavirus has so far infected 22,866,146 people around the world, claiming the lives of 797,164. The number of recovered cases has reached 15,521,142, according to a Reuters report on Friday. 

Iran reported the virus outbreak in mid-February, which has so far taken the lives of 20,264 people out of a total of 352,558 infected people. 

According to Iran’s Health Ministry, 304,236 patients have so far recovered from the disease.


Iran tech firms Healthcare coronavirus COVID-19