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Iranian Tech Firms at Forefront of Battle Against Coronavirus

Iranian knowledge-based companies have forged six research and development agreements with academic and research centers, as well as the vice presidential office, to work on possible COVID-19 vaccines
Iranian Tech Firms at Forefront of Battle Against Coronavirus Iranian Tech Firms at Forefront of Battle Against Coronavirus

Iranian technology ecosystem has moved to the frontier of those combating the novel coronavirus, by working on treatment and vaccination, the vice president for science and technology said.
Speaking to a local broadcasting channel on Sunday, Sorena Sattari said Iranian knowledge-based companies have forged six research and development agreements with academic and research centers, as well as the vice presidential office to produce an effective COVID-19 vaccine. 
“Iran has never been among the countries producing vaccines,” he said. But thanks to the significant development of technology ecosystem in Iran, tech firms and researchers today have started working on it.
Over 76 treatment projects have been devised by Iranian medical specialists and researchers, the efficiency of which are currently being examined in laboratories. 
“As soon as the treatment strategies are scientifically approved and certified by the Health Ministry, they will be clinically applicable,” he said.  
Last week, Sattari elaborated on the latest achievements of knowledge-based companies and startups working in different medical fields. 
He said several studies have been conducted on the nature of COVID-19 in collaboration with the academia and tech firms to help develop health protective products.

 

Tehran University of Medical Sciences is to offer financial support to anti-coronavirus projects developed by researchers and tech firms


“Fortunately, these endeavors have paid off, as different types of coronavirus test kits, which work with blood samples and saliva, have been successfully mass-produced by domestic tech firms. This can help test several million people per week,” he said.
Sattari noted that hospitals are not facing any shortage of devices, including CT Scan devices, ventilators, ICU and surgery room equipment, oxygen concentrators and BiPAP machines.
“Surgical and N95 facemasks are being produced in the country and soon 40 new production lines will be added to the current capacity,” he said.
The vice president said the government’s huge investment in the development of knowledge-based companies has paid off, as tech-based businesses are contributing considerably to the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

 

 

Academia Step In

Joining the move, Tehran University of Medical Sciences is to offer financial support to anti-coronavirus projects developed by researchers and tech teams at the university.
Mohammad Reza Monazzam, an official with the university, said, “The number of approved medical and technological plans has reached 300. The university is to offer grants of 500 million rials [$3,125] to the plan developers to help them produce what they have designed.”
Monazzam added that over 100 knowledge-based and tech units have been engendered at the university, some of which have grown independent of the academic center and joined tech parks or industrial towns as independent businesses. 
According to the official, knowledge-based units are mainly active in producing health and medical products, including facemasks, gloves, test kits, medicine, ventilators and air purifiers.
Work is still underway to screen and detect innovative ideas developed by tech teams to expand the university’s role in strengthening the technology ecosystem to ward off COVID-19.
Monazzam noted that some of these teams and startups have launched a social media channel to connect the academia, specialists, thinkers and the society, and raise public awareness about the critical condition caused by the pandemic. 
“The group has recently entered into an agreement with the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology in becoming a social media hub on the subject and a credible scientific reference about the disease,” he said.

 

 

 

State Support

Besides the university, in mid-March, the government-backed Iran National Innovation Fund announced that it is planning to pay 50 trillion rials ($312.5 million) in loans to knowledge-based companies and tech firms to boost their operations.
According to INIF chief, Ali Vahdat, some 200 firms expressed interest in receiving the fund, although the most eligible will be selected.
“The move is aimed at increasing the production of health protective items needed during the pandemic, including facemasks, hand sanitizers, alcohol-based disinfectants and medical air disinfectant machines, along with antibacterial fabrics and covers for hospital use,” he said.
To receive the loan and start production, the applicant knowledge-based company should be certified by all the institutions involved, including Iran’s Food and Drug Administration and Health Ministry.
Vahdat noted that the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology and Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council have agreed to scrutinize the credentials of applicants and introduce the final list of eligible firms.
Referring to the spread of novel coronavirus in the country, Vahdat said the pandemic cannot be controlled without utilizing the potentials of the domestic tech ecosystem.
“The country’s knowledge-based economy, which has currently grown significantly, is being helped by young entrepreneurs and tech teams to withstand the negative effects of the disease,” he added.
The coronavirus has so far infected 2,482,598 people around the world, claiming the lives of 170,484. The number of recovered cases has reached 652,543, according to Reuters reporting on Tuesday. 
Iran reported the virus outbreak in mid-February, which has so far taken the lives of 5,209 people out of a total of 83,505 infected people. 
According to Iran’s Health Ministry, 59,273 patients have so far recovered from the disease while over 5,200 have died.

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