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EghtesadOnline: Tabriz will soon host a digital economy park as part of efforts to boost technological development, spread awareness, disseminate information and help curb the country’s reliance on highly vulnerable oil export revenue.

During a visit to the city -- capital of East Azarbaijan Province -- ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari-Jahromi conferred with experts and local authorities and said the state-sponsored project and its infrastructure is in the final phases, the ICT Ministry website reported.

The park will bring together and support technology firms and startups active in diverse areas, including agriculture, industries, education, urban services and tourism, and encourage businesses to start embracing digitalization to elevate their efficiency and growth.

"Startups and tech firms can develop smart solutions to upgrade traditional agriculture. For instance, by developing smart drip irrigation and developing solutions based on Internet of Things technology, the startups can give the sector a much-needed boost," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

Talented teams can apply cutting-edge technology to health care, electronic commerce, tourism, and handicrafts, promoting the services and contribute to living standards, Jahromi said.

Pointing to the untapped potential of young experts in the province, he added, "By employing these potentials the park can and will be productive and profitable.”

The ministry is coordinating efforts with provincial authorities to decide the location for the park. 

Establishment of similar technology centers are underway or have already started work across the country.

In Tehran a similar project is underway -- the Digital Economic Development Park. The park is expected to provide 150 startups and technology companies with working space and support.

According to ICT officials, interested venture capital funds will also be based in the parks to help fund startups. Reportedly, part of the ICT Ministry budget will be earmarked for startups in the centers.

In addition to providing working space and financial support, the firms will also be eligible for assistance in the form of mentorship courses and legal counseling.

A ‘Green Tech’ center was also launched in Mashhad in February as per an agreement between Iran IT Organization and the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology. It is mandated with supporting Mashhad-based startup accelerators.

 

 

ICT Growth

Reviewing the measures taken in Tabriz to bolster information and communication technology, Jahromi said of the total 2,000 rural areas housing 20 plus households, almost 67% have access to communication services, including landline telephone, mobile network coverage and Internet.

"By the end of the Sixth Five-Year Economic Development Plan [2017-22], 90% of the rural areas with more than 20 households will have access to communication services," the minister was quoted as saying.

Earlier this year old communication infrastructure in the province was upgraded at a cost of 240 billion rials   ($1.9 million).

ICT engineers and their teams are laying 302 kilometers of fiber optic cables in the province to give East Azerbaijan communications a boost.

Jahromi said as per a recent agreement between the ICT and the Education Ministry, all schools, including those in East Azarbaijan, would be connected to Iran’s National Information Network and have access to primary modern tools for students and teachers.

NIN is as an independent network whose content is compatible with Islamic values, one of the most important components of which is the availability of localized services.

Jahromi said all the measures taken so far and those underway are in line with the declared policy of curbing dependence on natural resource exports, realizing a digital economy and concentrating on the production and export of value-added goods.

After President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, his administration has promoted the use of and access to modern technology to boost growth and life living standards.

 

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