EghtesadOnline: Participating in Iran-Europe Cooperation Conference in Brussels, Iran's Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari promoted the country's startup ecosystem with the aim of fostering relations between the European Union and local firms.
During event entitled “New Horizon” held on Thursday and Friday in Brussels, Belgium, Sattari outlined Iran’s gradual push toward curbing the country’s overreliance on oil industries toward a technology-based economy.
The official touted the domestic potential by detailing the country’s human capital. He noted, “The number of Iranian university students has increased from 2.4 million to 4.8 million over the past decade.”
Moreover, according to Financial Tribune, the high Internet penetration rate holds out promising prospects for startup businesses in the country. Sattari said, “There are 33 million people between the age of 20 and 40 who have a smartphone and also 47 million Iranians regularly connect to the World Wide Web.”
Sattari pointed to the country’s efforts to channel the vast human resources toward innovative startups by offering tax and customs duty waivers, as well as financial support. “As an incentive, during the last fiscal which ended in March, 2,400 startups and knowledge-based companies were exempted from tax,” he said.
Sattari points out that the President Hassan Rouhani administration’s push has been successful to some extent, with the 3,500 identified technology-based companies in the past six years currently reporting a $12 million annual turnover and having roughly generated 300,000 direct employment opportunities.
According to the vice president for science and technology, government funds are not the only support system for Iranian startups in their early stages.
Over the past two years, the Securities and Exchange Organization has facilitated the establishment of 13 venture capital funds and several others are awaiting approval.
According to Sattari, Iran’s startup ecosystem has been booming in recent years and the subculture related to the firms is growing in Iran.
He says, “In addition to the VCs, angel investment culture is growing in Iran and several science and technology funds have been formed in the country during the recent years.”
Currently, there are 32 science and technology funds as well as 22 private startup accelerators active in Iran.
The country is also tapping into its human resources abroad, cooperating with Iranian expats who have graduated from top-notch universities across the globe, as well as entrepreneurs.
Sattari concluded his remarks by saying, “I am optimistic about Iran’s future relations with European countries, hoping the cooperation between Iran and the EU can clear the way for the startup ecosystem’s evolution.”
The annual gathering focuses on economic and technological expansion and startup growth, as well as the internationalization of knowledge-based firms.