By Setareh Behroozi

Steps taken for technology and innovation improvement in 1397

March 18, 2019 - 11:55

Digital transformation, e-government, knowledge economy, and space-based business are amongst catch-phrases of technology in Iran during the Iranian calendar year 1397, ending on March 20.

Information technology and innovation ecosystem, as newly emerged approaches in Iran, promote efficiency and entrepreneurship, which seem attractive for both the young generation and the officials.

In mid-March, Information and Communication Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi announced that despite sanctions the ICT sector will flourish in the next Iranian calendar year 1398 (starting March 21).

Many entrepreneurs and officials eye innovation ecosystem and new technology as a method to transit Iran from the oil economy to a knowledge economy. 

As the last issue of the newspaper in which technology page appears, here you can read some achievements and steps taken to improve technology and innovation ecosystems in Iran during the past year, 1397.

Digital transformation keeping pace with changing world

Digital transformation was one of the keywords frequently used by the ICT minister Azari Jahromi during the past year. He believed that e-government is a crucial phase, which should be passed to reach digital transformation.

Digital transformation is the transformation of business by revamping the business strategy or digital strategy, models, operations, products, marketing approach, objectives etc., by adopting digital technologies. This accelerates sales and growth of the business from end to end.

In March 2018, the ICT Ministry and University of Tehran announced that they are discussing the preparation of a comprehensive Digital Transformation (DT) document.

The document was planned to shed light to different aspects of DT including smart urban, administrative, executive and judicial management.

However, in December 2018, Azari Jahromi announced that 95 percent of the state-run organizations are not ready yet for the changes.

Besides technology development, the inter-relation between different organizations is important as well, he explained.

Technology eases everyday life of people

The technology achievements become tangible in today world. They ease everyday life with more efficient methods.

During the past year, the ICT Ministry signed several agreements with other organizations and organizations in order to facilitate and improve the lives of citizens.

In July 2018, the ICT Ministry and the Ministry of Energy signed an agreement to boost job creation and improve efficiency in the field of water and electricity through technological advancement.

According to the agreement, the ICT Ministry plans to provide smart water and electricity metering, light switch, electrical substation and street light, and water consumption management.

According to an agreement between the ICT Ministry and agriculture ministry smart irrigation was planned in a bid to help deal with water shortage in the country.

A pilot study was conducted in Moghan plain, northwestern Iran, and Qazvin plain, central Iran, resulted in a 50 percent decrease in water usage through smart irrigation. The figure is 15 percent in Fars province.

According to the agreement, it is projected that at least 20 percent of the agricultural economy to be linked with the digital economy over the course of four years so that the private sector’s contribution to smart agriculture would rise by 300 percent.

In January 2019, the Department of Environment and the ICT Ministry inked a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to contain natural disasters such as wildfires using modern technologies in Golestan National Park, northern Iran.

As per the MOU, such projects aiming at achieving environmental goals and sustainable development along with early detection and warning of natural disasters using modern technology will be implemented nationwide.

5G internet is on the way!

In February 2019, he Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Ministry aims to develop the 5th Generation (5G) -- the latest generation of cellular mobile communications -- and Internet of things (IoT) in the next Iranian calendar year 1398 (starting on March 21).

In August 2018, Azari Jahromi announced that up to now 55 percent of Iranian villages have internet coverage

“Heading towards 5G! It is an aim we pursue besides development of IoT in 1398. Now, all the Iranian cities and over 66 percent of villages have 3G/4G coverage. We do our best for the development of public access in next year despite sanctions. The new generation of telecommunication is waiting for us!” Azari Jahromi announced.

E-government is not a claim!

During 1397, the ICT Ministry is providing infrastructures for e-government and make it applicable in some areas.

In July 2018,  Iran moved 20 notches up to rank 86 among 193 countries in the United Nations E-Government Development Index (EGDI 2018) in comparison with EGDI 2017, UN website reported.

Issued by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, EGDI evaluates the scope and quality of online services, the status of telecommunication infrastructure and existing human capacity.

Iran was amongst 17 countries that transitioned from Middle- to High-EGDI level group. 

The first phase of e-government services project in Iran officially came on stream under the title of ‘Mobile Government’ in mid-May 2018.

The project aims to facilitate some government services, reduce unnecessary expenses and ease traffic jam, which is the main cause of air pollution in big cities.

It is based on the National Information Network, an ongoing project to develop a secure and stable infrastructure network in the country.

The National Information Network (NIN) is the definition of cyberspace development by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran started issuing smart cards for purchasing gasoline on December 3 through “Mobile Government” - the first phase of e-government services project which came on stream in May.

Through the project, the gasoline smart cards, which were used for rationing fuel in past years, is now connected to the bank cards for easy payment.

The government saves 3.3 trillion rials (some $78.5m) through issuing the smart card by the Mobile Government.

The Mobile Government aims to facilitate some government services, reduce unnecessary expenses and ease traffic jam, which is the main cause of air pollution in big cities.

Some statistics about internet users in Iran

Some organizations and ICT Ministry released statistics about internet and internet users in the country during the past year.

In January 2019, the Information Technology Organization of Iran announced that Iranians spend one hour and four minutes daily on social networks.

The figures are stated according to a survey conducted by the Statistical Center of Iran in the past Iranian calendar year 1396 (ended on March 20, 2018),

The time Iranian spend on social media is 30 times more than the time they read newspapers and nine times more than the time they read books, he said.

Iranians spend four hours and 34 minutes per month on book reading, which includes non-curriculum books, and the figure is one hour and 27 minutes for the reading the newspaper.

According to a report released by the Measuring Information Society of Iran at the Information Technology Organization in early 2019, 64 percent of Iranians above six years are internet users.

A survey was conducted at urban and rural areas during the winter season of the Iranian calendar year 1396 (ended March 20, 2018) by the Statistical Center of Iran.

According to the survey, the internet user is defined as someone who has used the internet during the past three months and by this definition, 46,315,545 people are internet users in Iran.

According to the report, 72.8 percent of Iranian families have access to the internet, which means that 17,936,000 families benefit from internet nationwide.

A total of 17,216,000 families have access to a computer, which is 69.7 percent of the population.

Another survey, which was conducted two years ago, reported that 61.39 percent of Iranian families have access to the internet until the yearend of Iranian calendar year 1395 (ended on March 21, 2017).

Hence, there is a 10 percent development during a year, according to the report.

The survey is done according to 19 indicators and factors provided by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Cybersecurity for children atop agenda

In mid-November, the ICT Ministry announced that it plans to introduce parental control applications.

According to a survey conducted by the ICT Ministry, only eight percent of Iranian parents monitor their children’s online activity.

The survey revealed that Iran is not very successful in content creation for children and to control children’s online activity.

The ministry held a festival named Koodakonline in March 2019 during which, it introduces apps for kids.

The festival acted as an incubator in the field of creating appropriate content for children and young adults

The kids’ launcher Nabat, children messaging app Medad, story and song application Touchstan and the application for children animation Aio Tune were named winners of the festival.

The ICT Ministry also plans to hold a festival on web series and online short films for children in spring 2019, he announced.

According to a report announced by the deputy education minister for training Alireza Kazemi in early December, about 20 million internet users out of 56 million users are below 18.

Space technology is not untapped anymore!

Iran, as a country which has made several achievements in space technology in recent decades, is not an exception. Now, the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) promotes space-based businesses as one of the main factors for the development of the country.

In June 2018, Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) and Iranian Space Agency (ISA) discussed the expansion of relationship during a meeting on the sidelines of 61st Committee of the United Nations on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS).

In October 2018, the ISA Director Morteza Barari announced that Iran possesses 30 geostationary orbital slots and the country plans to provide infrastructure for filling the slots in the near future.

In March 2019,  the head of the Iranian Space Research Center Hossein Samimi announced that the center is working on five key projects, which are considered as the main achievements of Iran’s space technology.

According to a recent agreement signed between the Iranian Space Research Center and the Ministry of Agriculture, in February 2019 the remote sensing satellites are planned to be used in different sections of the agricultural industry,

The center already provided a map of the cultivated area, which provides more than 95 percent of the national rice market in five provinces.

During Arbaeen pilgrimages, which fell on October 3 this year, the balloons brought internet access at the borders of Mehran and Khosravi, which offered free WiFi services to pilgrims.

In February 2019, The Iranian Space Research Center provided details of a successful test of its internet balloon system that took place over the city of Karaj, Alborz province, Mehr reported on Tuesday.

Named “Baam 300”, it is equipped with night-vision cameras, the high altitude balloon went 350 kilometers above the Earth’s surface with the capacity to transfer 300 kg of telecommunication packages.

In late February, Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing lab was inaugurated at the venue of the Iranian Space Research Center.

During a speech in February, Azari Jahromi announced that despite the sanctions that have slowed down the country’s space technology development, there are no specific problems and the national space program is well progressing.


In a speech in January 2019, ICT Minister announced that the satellites improve the standard of living, food and water resources security, which are the most important aims for the government.

Azari Jahromi said that Iran will not hold off development in the field of space technology and cannot wait for other countries to meet its needs.

In January 2019, Iran launched homegrown Payam satellite, however, the satellite's carrier rocket could not reach the "necessary speed" and so neither reach the orbit, the information and communication technology (ICT) minister told the state TV.

Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said that the satellite successfully passed the first and second stages of the launch, but could not reach the "necessary speed" in the third stage.

Payam, a 90kg non-military satellite, was planned to be sent into a 500km orbit using domestically-made Safir satellite-carrier rocket.

Manufactured by the Amirkabir University of Technology, the image resolution of the Payam satellite is 45 meters and can stay in orbit for three years.

Later Azari Jahromi announced that Iran has spent 1.2 million euros for manufacturing Payam satellite over a period of ten years saying that the budget is not an expenditure but an investment, just like e-government, the remote sensing satellite will improve usage of water resources and methods of agriculture.

Nanotechnology achievements on the rise year on year

Recognizing the great importance of nanotechnology, Iranians have had boosted researches in the field year on year.

There are 257 companies active in this field, 33 percent of which working on nano-materials.

These companies have manufactured 376 different products using the nontechnology, showing that this is a field with huge economic and practical advantage.

According to a report released by the StatNano, a comprehensive statistical database portal, in January 2019, Iran ranks first in 2018 in terms of local share of nano-articles, which is the ratio of the nano-articles carried in a country to the total articles of that country.

In February 2019, Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council announced that the Iranian knowledge-based companies manufacture 12 to 15 new nano products per month.

In November 2018, Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council announced that it is predicted that 30 billion rials (about $175 million) of nanotechnology products will be sold by the end of the current Iranian calendar year 1397 (March 20, 2019).

There are 194 companies active in the field of nanotechnology in 2018 out of which, 60 percent were initiated as nanotechnology companies and the rest changed or developed as such companies.

With 9,662 articles and 5.81 percent of its share, Iran ranks 4th amongst the top 20 countries based on the share of nano-articles carried in 2018.

Approximately 166,000 nano-articles were indexed in the Web of Science (WoS) in 2018, comprising around 10% of the total. Among the different branches of science, chemistry, materials, and physics had respectively the largest shares of the indexed nano-articles.

In June 2018, the council announced that in Iran, about 170 nanotechnology companies produce over 420 nano products in the different fields including healthcare, textile, home appliances, energy and laboratory equipment.

Meanwhile, the Iran Nanotechnology Initiative Council announced that the Nanomedicines, advanced nanomaterials and nanomedical devices are on the top list for export and nanotechnology products were exported to 50 countries over the Iranian calendar years 1394 to 1396 (2015-2017).

Russia, India, Brazil, and Mexico are the target markets for nano product since they have a great market for nanotechnology products.

Iran’s successes in biotechnology

In February 2019, the biotech development center (BioDC) announced that there are 146 biopharmaceuticals in the global market, out of which, 22 items are available in Iran which are monoclonal antibodies and recombinant proteins.

The Development of biotechnology can save $200-300 million annually in coming years. 

Previously in October 2018, the BioDC released a report that medicine is on top of the list of exports of biotechnology products in Iran.

In July 2018, the vice president for science and technology Sourena Sattari announced that Iranian startups meet 98 percent of the domestic market’s need to biotechnology medicine.

Knowledge economy is a necessity

Knowledge economy and innovation ecosystem were catch-phrases of the vice president for science and technology Sourena Sattari during the past year.

In his speeches on different occasions, he always stressed the importance of the replacement of the oil economy with knowledge economy for improvement of the country.

In May 2018, the Health Ministry announced that Iranian knowledge-based companies operating in the field of health have supplied over 2,500 products to the domestic market and about 450 knowledge enterprises are now active in the field of healthcare products in the country.

It was announced that out of this number, 52 companies export their products with value more than 70 million dollars.

In September 2018, the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology announced that selling knowledge-based products has so far brought in 34 trillion rials (about $8 million) revenue in the current Iranian calendar year, starting March 21.

The number of incubator centers has increased to 193 in the previous Iranian calendar year 1396 compared to 174 centers in the year earlier. As many as 41 science and technology parks were operational as the main centers for the development of knowledge-based companies until the end of the previous Iranian calendar year.

In September 2018, the vice presidency for science and technology announced that Iran has exported $400 million worth of knowledge-based products during the past Iranian calendar year 1396 (March 2017-March 2018).

In April 2018, Iranian knowledge enterprises exported products valued at 450 million dollars during the past Iranian calendar year which ended on March 20, the vice president for science and technology announced on Saturday.

Startups also took the lead through the past Iranian calendar year.

In September 2018, the vice presidency for science and technology announced that there are about 4,000 startups operating in Iran which provide IT-based services to the public.

The ICT Ministry announced in September 2018 that over 93,700 job opportunities were created in the field of the smart transportation system, e-commerce and mobile applications in Iran during the previous Iranian calendar year 1396 (March 2017- March 2018).

The vice presidency for science and technology announced in September 2018 that there were about 4,000 startups operating in Iran which provide IT-based services to the public.

Bottom line

The technology and its application in everyday life bring transparency, comfort and time to us. However, this is all upon us how to use it and be aware of non-use of technology.

Iran is on the track to promote technology and innovation for a more easy life, creating jobs and opportunities for citizens and, of course, all of us can have own share in such a development. However, maybe we should write it on our resolution list for the New Year, to create and use technology tools and solutions and not let them use us. Happy Noruz!


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