EghtesadOnline: The Iranian government is making more efforts to develop the technology ecosystem by overhauling unused infrastructures and repurposing them into workspaces.
According to the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, six abandoned factories in different cities will be repurposed into innovation factories, Mehr News Agency reported.
Esmaeil Qaderifar, an authority with the office said old and abandoned factories in Isfahan, Tabriz, Ardabil, Mashhad, Yazd and Karaj will be turned into tech hubs for fostering innovative ideas, Financial Tribune reported.
Specifying old buildings and avoiding construction of new facilities is aimed at squeezing the costs and use of material, in other words, making the most of the existing facilities.
In Karaj, the provincial center of Alborz, a construction which was built over a decade ago is targeted for the plan.
According to Ali Kamalizadeh, Karaj Mayor, the building was intended to become a firefighting school. But with a change in plans, the project managers abandoned the repurposing plan unfinished.
"The construction of the building is over 90% completed, with classrooms, restaurant, and dormitory," Kamalizadeh said.
During the past several months, tech authorities along with urban managers have been searching for the most suitable place for erecting an innovation factory. "The decade-old building has been the best choice so far," he added.
Located in Hesar Neighborhood, in the eastern flank of Alborz Province, the building covers an 11,000-square meter area.
Derakhshan textile factory in Yazd is the other would-be innovation factory which is 10,000 square meters width.
Adjacent to Ferdowsi University of Mashhad in Khorasan Razavi Province, the former soft drinks factory covering a 15,000-square meter area is also to be repurposed into a tech center.
Work is still underway to locate the best place for establishing innovation factories in Isfahan, Tabriz and Ardebil, Qaderifar said.
The establishment of innovation factories and tech centers 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.
Naturally, the Iranian capital city, Tehran, pioneers the trend with two innovation factories.
The first innovation factory in the metropolis, 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 in northeastern Tehran.
Besides Tehran, the vice presidential office has financed several other innovation factories in Iranian metropolises to expand the startup and knowledge-based ecosystems.
According to Qaderifar, innovation factory projects in the provinces of Markazi and Fars are almost complete and will become operational in the coming months.
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.
The government is optimistic that giving financial, technical and spiritual support to firms can help them expand their businesses and consequently curb the country's reliance on oil-based revenues.
Sorena Sattari, the vice President for science and technology said Iran has more than 4,700 knowledge-based companies, which have earned 1 quadrillion rials ($7.4 billion) from the export of technological products in the first half of the current Iranian year (started March 2019).
The income has been on an upward trajectory over the past several years, increasing from 600 trillion rials ($4.4 billion) in the year ending March 2018 to 900 trillion rials ($6.6 billion) last year, Sattari added.
He emphasized that the figures prove that the solution to economic hardships facing Iran today can be found inside and not outside the country.