EghtesadOnline: Iran National Innovation Fund has allocated 110 billion rials ($900,000) to knowledge-based companies active in North Khorasan Province in the current Iranian year (started March 21).
During a recent meeting with technology authorities held at the province's Science and Technology Park, Ali Vahdat, chairman of INIF, announced that the fund is expected to help promote the activities of technological teams and firms, ISNA reported.
"The tech firms will be provided with support in the fields of commercialization, market competition, investment and further development, depending on their pace of growth during the year," he added.
Vahdat said the fund is several times higher than that allotted in the past five years, Financial Tribune reported.
"A mere 7 billion rials [$57,000] were allocated to such companies in the past five years," he added.
The INIF chairman underlined the objectives, including developing the country’s startup ecosystem, encouraging large industrial units to join and promoting the export of knowledge-based products.
Vahdat added that the fund is trying to remove financial impediments limiting the growth of knowledge-based companies and said monetary assistance to the companies should not be delayed.
Besides the fund extended to North Khorasan Province, INIF announced that in the current fiscal year, 15 trillion rials ($123million) will be granted to small and fledgling tech firms vetted by academic institutions across the country.
The authorities' support for knowledge-based companies may not have the desired outcome in the absence of a clear definition of which businesses qualify as knowledge-based in Iran, which term is currently applied to startups, tech firms and even auto parts makers.
Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology says 4,229 knowledge-based companies have so far been registered by the office and their names are available on its website, Isti.ir.
Some experts believe offering loans is the worst kind of help that can be offered to a fledgling startup or tech company.
Iran E-Commerce Union is strongly opposed to “cash handouts and loans”, rejecting such a policy as the “worst nightmare for Iran’s startup ecosystem”.
In an interview with Financial Tribune in January, Shayan Shalileh, secretary of the union, said, "Government-sponsored loans will divert startups from the right path. Over time, they will get deep in the red and instead of relying on their own resources and capabilities, they will seek more and more of the same."
Shalileh stressed that instead of loans, the government should streamline the bloated bureaucracy, cut insurance costs for startups and offer tax holidays.