Iran establishing innovation centers in Syria and Russia

The goal is to find new export markets for Iranian knowledge-based products, and cope with the implications of the American economic sanctions  

Iranian high-tech workers at an office in Tehran. Photo:  REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/TIMA

Iran intends to set up innovation and technology centers in Syria, and in Russia, in order to find new export markets for products based on local knowledge and infrastructures. The Tehran Times reports that the export of knowledge-based products is one of the key programs of the ministry for science and technology, and that innovation centers were established in Kenya and China recently.   

The centers are intended to be a platform for promotion and development of Iranian high-tech and startup companies as well as creative industries. An official from the science and technology ministry said the centers are being financed mainly by the private sector with a goal of increasing Iranian exports from knowledge-based industries. Technology exchanges with Russia and Syria are on the agenda, he added, saying "We are trying to open up opportunities for exporting knowledge-based products to other countries, especially African countries, which we may have paid less attention to, or Southeast Asian countries." Also, the plan is to increase exports to neighboring countries.   

The Iranian official also said that one of the goals of the attempts to find new markets is to "confront sanctions." According to the official, the revenues from exports of products from knowledge-based Iranian industries last year reached about $800 million, and are expected to reach $2 billion this year. According to the report, about 5,000 knowledge-based companies are currently operating in Iran and manufacturing many products in the fields of airplane maintenance, steel, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, and oil and gas, leading to a reduced dependence on imports.    

The Iranian vice president for science and technology, Sourena Sattari, told the newspaper several months ago that the American sanctions led to a decline in exports of technological products, but now these exports have returned to growth. Sattari also said that 42 knowledge-based companies worth a total of 2.8 quadrillion riyals (about $66.6 billion) have been listed on the Iranian stock exchange. In recent years, the vice president's office has supported local manufacturing of products under sanctions. Last week the office signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Afghanistan on the establishment of a joint science and technology park. 

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