Iran improves rank in global innovation index

June 22, 2021 - 21:7

TEHRAN – Knowledge-based companies and creative startups have grown over the past five years, and Iran has risen 45 places in the Global Innovation Index, according to the UNESCO 2021 Report.

The Global Innovation Index in Iran from 2015 to 2019 has risen from 106 to 61 with continuous improvement, showing 45 steps growth.

The development of accelerators and innovation centers over the last five years has led to a rapid increase in startups and knowledge-based companies.

Between 2014 and 2017, exports of knowledge-based goods grew by a factor of five, before slumping in 2018 after the U.S. withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (2015), commonly referred to as the nuclear deal, and re-imposed sanctions.

The increase in exports, as well as their focus and encouragement to increase production and provide knowledge-based services in the country, are examples of this rapid growth.

The report has also mentioned various reforms and legislation designed to remove barriers to competition in the Iranian market, calling it an effective step in providing innovation and significant improvement of science and technology in the Islamic Republic.

The report states that innovation in Iran has developed rapidly over the past five years, and by the end of last year, 49 accelerators and 113 innovation centers had provided services to start-ups with the participation of the private sector.

Knowledge-based companies

Currently, some 6,000 knowledge-based companies are active in the country, manufacturing diverse products to meet the needs of the domestic market while saving large amounts of foreign currency.
The fields of aircraft maintenance, steel, pharmaceuticals, and medical equipment, oil, and gas are among the sectors that researchers in technology companies have engaged in, leading to import reduction.

Domestic production of 95% of medicine

High capabilities of Iranian biotechnology and pharmaceutical technology are also emphasized in this report. The fact that 95 percent of the medicine used in the country and two-thirds of the pharmaceuticals are produced domestically, as well as the export of Iranian biopharmaceuticals to the European market, especially Germany, is one of the strengths of Iran's development in this field.

The 2021 UNESCO Scientific Report emphasizes that efforts to promote innovation in the biotechnology sector through the launch of a specialized accelerator are also one of the symbols of development in Iran.
The increase in the number of knowledge-based and creative companies in the biotechnology and nanotechnology sector and the growth of their sales and exports is another example.

Vice presidency for science and technology in tackling pandemic

Another important issue is the role of knowledge-based firms in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

 The report emphasizes the support of the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology and the Innovation and Prosperity Fund for the production of advanced equipment and supplies for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the virus shortly after the onset of the epidemic and is described as a positive and effective experience.

Mehdi Kashmiri, director for technology and planning at the science ministry, said in July that about 450 knowledge-based companies were active in the country for manufacturing protective equipment and treatment products to fight the coronavirus.

Production of more than one million face masks per day, production of more than 1.5 liters of disinfectants per day, diagnostic kits, non-contact thermometers, protective clothing, ventilator are among the produces manufactured by these companies, he added.

Iranian-made innovative products in the field of diagnosis, screening, and fighting coronavirus were also unveiled to combat the disease, namely, ozone generator, nanotechnology face shields, disinfection gate, and molecular COVID-19 diagnostic kits.

Attracting Iranians abroad in domestic startups

The return program of Iranian specialists abroad, which was implemented by the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology, has also been considered in this international study.

A program that has led to the employment of a large number of Iranians living abroad in domestic startups (354 people in 2017) and the establishment of startups (100 startups with more than 3,000 employees in 2017).

The progress, made in startups, research, and academia since 2015, has led to the return of 2,000 Iranian specialists and graduates from 400 prestigious and top universities in the world.

About 500 Iranian researchers have returned home over the past four years to transfer their knowledge and expertise to the country's universities, according to the vice presidency for science and technology.

Adopting the approach of developing the technology and innovation ecosystem in the country by supporting creative companies and start-ups in advanced technologies, are of the key policies to developing science, technology, and innovation in Iran in recent years, the report states.

Job creation in innovation factories and technology parks

In this report, different generations of innovation zones are mentioned. According to the Iran Entrepreneurship Association, there are forty-four parks of science and technology, twenty-one of which are located in Tehran.

Over the last eight years, the creation of 13 science and technology parks, 4,553 technology units, and 1,653 new knowledge-based companies could provide employment for 34,707 university graduates.

Pardis Technology Park and innovation factories have played a significant role in the successful implementation of this approach.

Azadi Innovation Factory has created 3,500 jobs for university graduates and young entrepreneurs, who, along with 6,000 employees of 500 companies located in the Pardis Technology Park, play a great role in developing innovation.

Sharif Innovation Zone is another example of implementing the Technology Ecosystem and Innovation Support Approach, which hosts more than 500 startups.

Iran's favorable status for gender equality in higher education students, as 46.6 percent of students are female, described as another strength of Iran in the field of science, technology, and innovation.

Continuous growth of scientific productions

However, according to the announcement of the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology on Sunday, the continuous growth of Iran’s scientific production in the last decade has been considerable.

The number of articles indexed by the Iranian researchers on the Web of Science website in 2020 increased by 122 percent compared to that of 2013, which made Iran 16th in the world with 69,779 articles, and first among the Islamic countries for several consecutive years, Gholam Hossein Rahimi, deputy minister of science said in May.

Areas such as nanotechnology and biotechnology and effective support for the country's top scientists, the return of 1,400 Iranian elites, and registration of patents of Iranian scientists in international authorities, are examples of government support in this regard.

Resisting sanctions by resistance economy

The policies of the resistance economy have been discussed as an important mechanism in overcoming the challenges posed by the oppressive U.S. sanctions and enhancing the technological and productive capacity to reduce the country's dependence on imports of technologies and industrial products.

The report points to the need to pay serious attention to the development of exports with the capability created in startups, which has been seriously considered in recent years.

Paying more attention to market demand and improving skills in higher education in Iran to reduce the unemployment rate of university graduates, promoting research and development in the business sectors (public and private), increasing the share of renewable resources, and overcoming environmental challenges with scientific and technological solutions are among the most important suggestions of this report to improve the situation of science, technology, and innovation in Iran.

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