By Mehdi Garshasbi

Toward a 'knowledge-based' socio-economic growth

February 14, 2021 - 17:4

TEHRAN – The law for promoting and supporting knowledge-based companies was approved by the Majlis (Iranian parliament) in 2010, paving the way for a jumpstart in the march toward scientific progress.

Over the past couple of years, the concept of ‘knowledge-based company’ has changed to ‘knowledge-based society’, meaning that supporting knowledge-based companies will lead to many social and economic advantages for the public.

The deputy vice president for science and technology, Mehdi Elyasi, says the number of knowledge-based companies has increased from around 50 in 2013 to more than 5,700 in the current year.

Currently, many knowledge-based companies are active in different fields, ranging from information and communication technology to health, agriculture, and energy with an estimated total sale of 1,200 billion rials (around $28 billion at the official rate of 42,000 rials), Elyasi explained.

Most-advanced fields

Various knowledge-based companies have made advancement in different fields, however, the level of progress in the fields of health, ICT, agriculture, and energy has been more noticeable. Of course, other sectors such as the automotive industry have removed many bottlenecks so far. At present, 40 knowledge-based companies with large turnovers are listed on the stock market, Elyasi added.

Dealing with sanctions

Although sanctions have put pressure on the country, it has provided a unique opportunity for business development and the activity of knowledge-based companies in the country.

The fields of aircraft maintenance, steel, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, oil, and gas are among the sectors that researchers are more engaged in, leading to a reduction in imports.

Sourena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology, told the Tehran Times in October 2020 that although U.S. sanctions have caused exports of knowledge-based companies to decline over the past three years, the exports are projected to reach the pre-sanctions level of more than $1 billion by the end of the current [Iranian calendar] year (March 20).

The vice presidency for science and technology in cooperation with the ministry of foreign affairs is planning to boost ‘technology diplomacy’ through expanding innovation and technology centers in export target countries.

Fighting with COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has proved the efficiency of knowledge-based companies so that around 100 companies are working exclusively to supply the domestic market with medicine and equipment necessary to fight the disease.

Esmaeil Qaderifar, head of the center for strategic technologies development of the vice presidency of science and technology, has said that under sanctions in the most difficult conditions, Iran combatted the pandemic and knowledge-based companies could make the country independent. Moreover, they managed to produce pharmaceutical items required by the country's health system.

“Also, the production of medical equipment such as ventilators is one of the honors of knowledge-based companies, which is a vital and important item for ICU patients, which have even reached the export stage,” he said.

Experts believe that promoting the culture of scientific growth in the society is one of the necessary infrastructures and basic needs for the success of the country in the process of passing from an oil-based economy to a knowledge-based economy.