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EghtesadOnline: More innovation centers have been set up in Iranian metropolises over the past few years, in line with effort to support startups and knowledge-based companies.

Most recently, tech authorities in Ardabil started work for establishing an innovation factory in the northwestern province.

Habib Ebrahimpour, the director of a science and technology park in the city, said preliminary studies have been initiated for the project and a team of experts is working to identify a suitable venue and prepare the factory’s building design, Tasnim reported.

"The project is to be financed by the private sector," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

Referring to the increasing activities of technology companies in the province, Ebrahimpour said young talented tech teams, startups and knowledge-based companies, along with accelerators and investment units, can be gathered in an integrated center.

“The factory will be specialized in agriculture, urban construction, tourism and leather industry,” he said.

"Besides creating job opportunities for many, technological units can benefit from cheap working space and consultation services, as well as financial, technical and legal support offered by experts at the factory."

The official noted that the establishment of tech ties with neighboring countries, like Turkey, and exchange of experience and technology with foreign counterparts will top the factory's agenda.

Ebrahimpour noted that over 230 technological units, including 27 knowledge-based companies, are currently operating in Ardbil, which has registered a 60% rise compared with the figure of last fiscal year (ended March 20, 2019). 

“So far, the companies have successfully commercialized over 50 technological products. This is a clear sign that authorities need to further focus on the growing technology ecosystem in the province and the country,” he said.

He expected the number of active units in the planned factory to exceed 300.



Similar Project in Yazd

Besides Ardabil, the central province of Yazd is also seeking to open a science and technology park specialized in the field of medical sciences.

Akram Fadakar, a deputy head of Yazd Governorate, addressed experts and activists in the medical and tech fields during a meeting on Thursday and asked for their help in establishing a tech park focused on health and medical fields.

Fadakar said the tech park is to be erected in and managed by Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences and Health Services. 

"A tech park in the university provides graduates with an opportunity to join tech teams and offer smart solutions to develop technological ideas and products in the field," she said.

She highlighted Yazd's rich background in medical sciences and said there are 19 specialized hospitals in Yazd, 12 of which are affiliated to medical universities.

In addition, numerous tech firms and knowledge-based companies active in the field of medical services have made the province a hub of high quality medical services in the country.

"The potential should be converged and enhanced via appropriate support and facilities," Fadakar said.

Esmaeil Qaderifar, an official with the Presidential Office for Science and Technology, earlier told the media that Yazd will house an innovation factory in a year.

"The vice presidential office is collaborating with the National Land and Housing Organization of Iran in identifying a suitable building for the project," he said.

The project is part of a bigger plan on establishing tech centers in Iranian megacities.



Other Metropolises

Besides the project in Yazd, the construction of three innovation centers, which has started in Fars, Khorasan Razavi and East Azarbaijan provinces, will likely be completed before the end of the current fiscal year (March 19, 2020).

Qaderifar said the innovation factory in Shiraz, Fars Province, is almost complete and will become operational in a few months.

"Established in a 1.4-hectare abandoned facility, the innovation factory will be launched by mid-September," he said.

The official noted that a similar project in Mashhad, the provincial center of Khorasan Razavi, is set to become operational in October.

“The building housing the factory is an old and unused facility near the Ferdowsi University of Mashhad,” he said.

“Tabriz in East Azarbaijan will get its third innovation factory when a construction project is completed.”

All the projects are being established in abandoned factories to keep the projects cost-efficient.

The Roads and Urban Development Ministry, municipalities and governorates in the host cities are assisting the vice presidential office in establishing the factories.



Emulating the Capital

Qaderifar noted that the new projects will resemble innovation factories in Tehran, such as Azadi and Highway, which have attracted numerous tech teams and startups.

Azadi Innovation Factory was launched in August 2018 at an abandoned chemicals factory near Azadi Square, west of Tehran. The center is backed by the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology and is managed by Sharif University of Technology.

Highway, the capital's second innovation factory, is under construction. The factory is being established in an old building near Nobonyad Square on the northeastern flank of Tehran.

Extending support to new startups and technology firms has been on the government's agenda since 2013 when President Hassan Rouhani began his first term in office.

As a result, the establishment of science and technology parks and innovation factories has gained momentum across Iran.


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