EghtesadOnline: The Iranian government is granting financial aid and loans to startups and tech firms to accelerate their growth.
The move is in line with President Hassan Rouhani’s agenda to support fledgling knowledge-based firms and startups, the development of which has already gained momentum in different sectors.
Over the past few days, several aid packages were announced by officials for startups and tech firms active in the following fields: tourism and handicrafts, toys and games, as well as photonics and laser, according to Financial Tribune.
Photonics and Laser
The Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology is extending grants and loans to develop technological and knowledge-based products in the field of laser and photonics, the office’s website reported.
Photonics is the physical science of light generation, detection and manipulation through emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification and sensing. The science is currently applicable to quantum optics, optomechanics, electro-optics and optoelectronics along with quantum electronics.
Hamid Lotfi, a deputy at the vice presidential office, said 60 business ideas in the field have been ratified for receiving financial help.
A public call was issued earlier by the office for the new startups and tech firms to present technological solutions and business ideas. Over 125 works were submitted, from which 60 were selected by a team of experts.
Lotfi said the selected works and ideas have been enlisted for receiving financial help.
"The teams will receive financial aid in the form of loans or grants up 50% of their total expenses," he added.
Once the teams receive the money, their progress in developing technological products will be monitored and technically supported.
Toys and Games
In another initiative, Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council, affiliated to the vice presidential office, has joined hands with the state-backed Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults to shore up innovative ideas in developing toys and games with the help of nanotechnology.
“Nanotechnology can add features to toys like making them water and stain proof, antibacterial, lightweight and durable by coating them with nanomaterial,” Ali Akbar Perech, an expert at INIC, said.
“The technology can also be used to upgrade the molds and other tools used in the production of toys and game materials.”
In a recent public call, designers, producers, experts and those active in the field of game and toy development were invited to present their innovative ideas to IIDCYA. About 120 ideas were submitted and 42 were selected during a forum jointly held by the institute and INIC.
“The selected works are eligible to receive support for commercialization,” Perech added.
According to INIC's website, Nano.ir, a second call will be issued in June 17.
Tourism and Handicrafts
The vice presidential office has also made a move to boost tourism and handicraft sectors.
Vice President for Science and Technology Sorena Sattari has called on graduates and talented students in relevant fields to form startups in the fields of tourism and handicrafts to both create jobs and help develop the industry.
Nomadic tourism, children's tourism, virtual museums and training guides for cultural heritage sites are among the untapped potentials of the travel sector.
Sattari said the use of cutting-edge technologies to make soil, glass and stone waterproof will be useful in preserving cultural heritages.
"The vice presidential office intends to offer a suitable working space for startups working in the field of tourism," Sattari said, adding that numerous abandoned buildings are suitable for housing tech firms and startups.
"With the financial help from the private sector, the vice presidential office is restoring a building for this purpose," he added.
Sattari emphasized that technical, financial and legal support will be extended to teams with brilliant ideas.
In a recent visit to the innovation center at Cultural Heritage and Tourism Research Center, Sattari unveiled a website developed as a virtual exhibition, Hyperexpo.ir.
On the website, each startup and tech firm can exhibit their products or services in a virtual pavilion free of charge. The online platform helps startups forge ties with sponsors, producers and customers to promote their businesses.
In addition, the vice presidential office is planning to establish a smart bazaar for knowledge-based products made by domestic companies. The plan is aimed at promoting the domestic market and employing the government's financial resources to support the firms, the office's website Isti.ir reported.
The scheme is still in the preliminary stage and no more information has been released yet.
According to Esmaeil Qaderifar, an official at the vice presidential office, Iranian knowledge-based companies’ revenues amounted to 900 trillion rials ($6.47 billion) in the last fiscal year that ended in March 2019, indicating a 50% year-on-year growth.
The amount accounts for both domestic sales and exports.
"The figure was 600 trillion rials [$4.3billion] in the year before," he said.
Qaderifar said involving knowledge-based companies into the commercial sector will help reduce the country's dependency on oil revenues and help realize the concept of knowledge-based economy in Iran.