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EghtesadOnline: Iran's Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology is planning to help startups and knowledge-based companies tap the market potentials of regional countries like Russia and Uzbekistan.

The event, slated for February 23 in Tehran, can help startups and tech teams offer their innovative products and services in larger markets, reported.

Tech authorities at the vice presidential office are supposed to familiarize attendees with the services offered to knowledge-based companies for expanding exports, forging commercial and technological collaboration with Russia, holding an exhibition of innovative products in the fields of agriculture and strengthening the role of Iranian tech items in Uzbekistan’s market, according to Financial Tribune.

Russia has hosted Iranian commercial and tech delegations several times in the past year, including the 15th International Aviation and Space Salon (also known as MAKS Air Show) held in the city of Zhukovsky in late August 2019 and the INNOPROM International Industrial Trade Fair held in Yekaterinburg in July 2019.

Underlining the promising results of the visits, Sorena Sattari, vice president for science and technology, earlier told reporters that the Russian tech firms have shown willingness in forging ties with Iranian knowledge-based companies, especially in the fields of nanotechnology, biotechnology, space and aviation, cognitive sciences and new energies.

As a result, an Iranian knowledge-based company signed a €2 million deal with a Russian company on the sidelines of MAKS Air Show, he added.

This is also the case with Uzbekistan, the regional country that has welcomed the presence of Iranian innovative products in its market.

During a business forum held in Tashkent in mid-December 2019, Uzbek Minister of Innovative Development Ibrokhim Abdurakhmonov and other senior Uzbek officials present at the event expressed willingness to foster relations with Iran.

Some 100 local companies attended the forum aimed at promoting interactions with regional countries and discussing prospects of implementing joint trade, economic and investment projects.

Both sides expected the development of collaborations in academic and technological spheres to further strengthen ties between the two countries.  



Export Value

Endeavors to expand international tech ties are mostly aimed at curbing Iran's dependence on oil-based revenues and grow its technology ecosystem, considering the economic hardships imposed on Iran due to the US sanctions.

According to Sattari, the government has put support for the ecosystem high on its agenda since President Hassan Rouhani took office during his first term in 2013. Since then, numerous startups and tech firms have been able to flourish and promote their businesses, not only in the domestic but also in foreign markets. 

Sattari said the Iranian knowledge-based companies and tech firms 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).

He noted that 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 ($6.7 billion) last year.

"Given the domestic potential and the enthusiasm of tech teams, exports will soon reach 5 quadrillion rials [$37.3 billion] and it is not a farfetched goal," he added.

“The figures prove that the solution to economic hardships facing Iran today can be found inside and not outside the country.”

The vice presidential office reports that more than 4,700 knowledge-based companies operate in the country.



Resourceful Support

The government is optimistic that giving financial, technical and spiritual support to firms can help them expand their businesses and consequently help the country materialize a digital economy.

Iran National Innovation Fund, affiliated to the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology, and other tech authorities have played a major role in extending vital resources.

The administration of President Hassan Rouhani established the fund with an initial investment of 30 trillion rials ($223.8 million). As per the law, the government is required to allocate 0.5% of its annual budget to INIF.

The fund’s officials say INIF will continue to give financial support to fledgling tech firms.

Siavash Malekifar, a deputy head at INIF, said the fund will offer 10 trillion rials ($74.6 million) as loans to fledgling startups and tech firms in the next Iranian year (starting March 20, 2020).

Malekifar said the money is to be paid to tech units requiring financial aid to the tune of 5 billion rials [$37,300] through INIF's 38 provincial branches.


Iran Russia Startups Uzbekistan Foreign Forays market potentials