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EghtesadOnline: An innovation support fund has been jointly established in the western province of Lorestan by the province's Science and Technology Park and the state-backed Iran National Innovation Fund.

Speaking at the opening event held early this week, Amin Hassanvand, deputy director of the tech park, said the provincial fund will financially support fledgling startups and knowledge-based companies, and facilitate their growth, IRNA reported.

Although the fund has been established with a limited initial investment of 30 billion rials ($222,000), Hassanvand said that in the near future, the financial clout of the center will increase as private investors and the government inject more money. 

"Currently, the fund is ready to offer cheap loans at an interest rate of 4-16% to tech units," Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.

Hassanvand noted that as part of efforts to support the development of technology ecosystem in the region, 20 hectares of Lorestan University's campus have been earmarked to build an innovation center.

“The project is aimed at providing shared working space for the operating and emerging tech units in Lorestan. The proximity of the would-be innovation center will benefit the fledgling startups that can utilize the theoretical knowledge of the university students and instructors, as well as laboratory equipment,” he said. 



Growing Trend

The establishment of tech centers, science and technology parks and innovation factories has gained momentum across Iran over the past several years.

The move has accelerated since President Hassan Rouhani began his first term in office in 2013 and put extra focus on extending support to new startups and technology firms.

Over the past few years, numerous tech parks have been established throughout the country.

Currently, there are seven tech parks in Tehran Province, most of which are backed by major Iranian universities, including Tarbiat Modares University, University of Tehran, Sharif University of Technology, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University and Islamic Azad University. 

These tech parks carry the name of universities backing them.

Pardis Technology Park in eastern Tehran also has strong ties with the academia.



Innovation Factories

The establishment of innovations factories in Iran is also witnessing a rising trend.

The first such center dubbed 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.

As per an agreement between the office and Tehran Municipality, abandoned buildings will be transformed into tech hubs for fostering innovative ideas.



Nationwide Push

Tehran is not alone in its push for establishing innovation factories and tech parks. Numerous centers have also been launched across Iran.

Innovation factories are to be launched in Iranian metropolises by the vice presidential office to expand the startup and knowledge-based ecosystems.

According to Esmaeil Qaderifar, an official with the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, innovation factory projects in the provinces of Khorasan Razavi and East Azarbaijan are almost complete and will become operational in the coming months.

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

According to the official, feasibility studies are underway in Fars, Isfahan and Yazd provinces for introducing similar projects.

A similar project in Mashhad, the provincial center of Khorasan Razavi, became operational in September. 

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

“The provincial projects have also been established in abandoned factories to keep the projects cost-efficient,” he said. 

The Roads and Urban Development Ministry, municipalities and governorates in the host cities are assisting the vice presidential office in implementing these projects.  

At the innovation factories, startups and knowledge-based companies find legal, technical and financial support to expand their activities.


Iran Lorestan Innovation Fund innovation support fund