EghtesadOnline: UNIDO has held talks with the Iranian Information and Communications Technology Ministry’s top brass to help Iranian startups establish a foothold in neighboring countries.
Managing Director of United Nations Industrial Development Organization Philippe Scholtes and the UN specialized agency’s Chief of Regional Division for Asia and the Pacific Ralf Bredel met with ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi and IT Organization’s Director Amir Nazemi over the Iranian weekend.
During the talks, Jahromi highlighted the importance of collaborations between Iran and international agencies like UNIDO for giving a boost to the country’s ICT development and startup ecosystem.
Jahromi pointed to his earlier meeting with UNIDO Chief LI Yong in Vienna, Austria, in April and said agreements reached during that meeting will hopefully prepare the ground for the expansion of collaborations between Iran and UNIDO in the fields of ICT and startups, according to Financial Tribune.
Scholtes said digitalization of services and expanding the application of ICTs in industries are high on the agenda of UNIDO.
He also noted that UNIDO is keen on expansion of ties with Iran and “hopefully, the ICT Ministry will play an active role in this process”.
The UNIDO officials also sat down with ITO Organization’s director. During the meeting, Nazemi detailed the latest developments in Iran’s ICT infrastructure while outlining expansion of Iranian startup ecosystem.
CEOs of major Iranian startups, including ride-hailing company Snapp and Mamanpaz that offers homemade food to online customers, also met with UNIDO officials.
Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization LI Yong met with Jahromi in April.
LI announced a self-funded project to be implemented by UNIDO within the framework of its 2017-21 Country Program.
The $1 million project will seek to boost the Iranian ICT value chain with the aim of creating local employment opportunities and promoting the regional economic integration of Iranian startups and small- and medium-sized enterprises. The project was designed to support the country’s Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22) that places a strategic focus on ICT.
“The partnership between Iran and UNIDO builds on the organization’s track record in boosting the performance of private sector producers through the promotion of industrial linkages and diversification, including by creating a favorable investment climate and a conducive environment for startups and fast-growing organizations,” said LI.
Jahromi also noted that given the rapid progress achieved by Iran in different fields of ICT in recent years as well as the swelling number of very talented and well-educated specialized Iranian young generation in this field, it is time to boost regional cooperation with neighboring countries.
“To this end, we intend to develop an effective partnership with UNIDO as the UN agency with the primary mandate to enhance industrial development. I trust UNIDO’s vast technical expertise and capacities and policy advisory services will ensure the effectiveness and sustainability of the aforementioned program, which at the end will be beneficial for our whole region,” he said.
The current UNIDO-Iran Country Program covers a range of cooperation areas to promote inclusive and sustainable industrial development in the country, including business development and sustainable job creation, the integration of local industries in global production networks and investment promotion, the development of agricultural and industrial value chains.
Over the past years, Iranian startups have grown exponentially in terms of numbers and diversity of services. A large section of young and educated Iranians are working for online firms that have flourished across the country.
After taking office in 2013, President Hassan Rouhani has strongly supported startups as a priority of his government. Subsequently, several state-backed startup accelerators, venture capital funds and investment funds have been set up.
Following the imposition of new US sanctions last year, Iranian startups have been facing an uphill battle to sustain their operations. UNIDO’s support and expertise can help the sector in more ways than one.