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EghtesadOnline: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited tech firms and startups based in Azadi Innovation Factory in Tehran on Monday.

On the same day, Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari visited the Science and Technology Park in the shrine city of Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province.

During his tour, Zarif said nurturing young talents and providing them with a proper environment to grow can help Iran overhaul its economy, the government website reported. 

“Fostering local tech teams guarantees national prosperity,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

“The export of tech products can significantly contribute to Iran’s national economic growth. I am elated to see that talented youngsters are meticulously working on exports."

The top Iranian diplomat called on local tech firms to focus on exporting goods to regional markets. 

Zarif also highlighted the importance of exporting technological products and offering technical and engineering services to foreign customers. He noted that modern technologies can help Iran boost its revenues from tourism.

He also pointed to the economic headwinds facing Iran, following the reimposition of harsh US sanctions against Tehran. 

According to the minister, the country will be able to overcome hardships by tapping into the potentials of young, talented and educated Iranians.

Zarif promised to facilitate the presence of foreign delegations and tech experts in Iran, in addition to easing the establishment of ties between Iranian experts and international players.

Speaking with the foreign minister, managers of several Iranian startups listed hurdles that impede growth, especially those related to entering the global market, branding and international money transfer.

After his visit to the factory, Zarif tweeted, “2500 young entrepreneurs have turned an old building in Tehran into an innovation factory to develop cutting edge tech—gaming, nano medicine, #AI, #IoT... @realDonaldTrump's #EconomicTerrorism is out to block them and their ideas, but they're relentless in pursuit of dreams.”

Trump’s hawkish approach and his maximum pressure campaign against the country are referred to as economic terrorism by Iranian officials.

Launched in August 2018, Azadi Innovation Factory has been established in an abandoned chemical factory near Azadi Square west of Tehran under the management of Sharif University of Technology.

At innovation factories, startups and knowledge-based companies find legal, technical and financial support needed to develop their activities.



Mashhad Tech Park

On the same day, Sattari visited a tech park in Mashhad and reviewed technological products developed by innovative teams based there. 

The products included small-scale agricultural machinery and parts, nanotechnology medicine and electronic devices.

He also spoke with tech teams about challenges facing them, the vice president’s website reported.

Sattari said in the last fiscal year (ended March 2019), local banks, Iran National Innovation Fund and other local financial entities invested 400 trillion rials ($3.4 billion) in domestic startups and knowledge-based companies in the form of grants and loans. He underlined that state support of the startup ecosystem will continue.

During Sattari’s visit, Mashhad Mayor Mohammad Reza Kalaei announced a new project on the construction of an innovation factory in the holy city.

Kalaei said a 6,000-square-meter space is to be allocated to the factory. 

"Mentors, accelerators and tech units will have productive interactions at the center, contributing to the national move for realizing the knowledge-based economy," he said.

During his daylong trip, Sattari also attended a conference on science and technology and knowledge-based economy for discussing ways of further promoting the factory.

Supporting technological idea developers and involving them in conventional industries have been on the government's agenda since President Hassan Rouhani started his first term in office in 2013. The government's policies are to curb Iran's oil-based revenues and reliance on imports.


Iran Mohammad Javad Zarif Tehran Startups Mashhad Foreign Minister Innovation Factory Tour Top Officials tech centers Azadi