Sci & Tech

Oil Tech Park Opens in Tehran

Oil Tech Park Opens in Tehran
Oil Tech Park Opens in Tehran

An oil and gas tech park has been launched in Tehran with the support of the Vice Presidential Office for Science and Technology to expedite the key sector’s development.
The park was officially introduced during a Monday event, with the presence of Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, Vice President Sorena Sattari and a number of tech experts, reported.
The park is based over 32 hectares in the former Research Institute of Petroleum Industry site in the southern Baqershahr neighborhood of Tehran.
According to the officials, the tech park is aimed at injecting state-of-the-art technology into the domestic petroleum industry and enrich the industry with the know-how generated by universities and research institutes.
It plans to host and support knowledge-based companies and startups for developing smart ideas to upgrade petroleum technologies, develop markets, create jobs and boost their capacities in the key sector.
Tech teams entering the park can enjoy legal and tax exemptions and up to 5 billion rials ($20,700) of seed money supplied by the Iran National Innovation Fund, affiliated with the vice presidential office.
Speaking at the event, Sattari said the park has been established through government funding but private entities are expected to join the project.
He called on private entities to use the opportunity for investment, and said, “Real innovation is born when the private sector makes venture capital investments in budding tech units.”
In line with the park project, an oil innovation and research fund was established in Tehran to support knowledge-based companies interested in the oil-related sector.
Iran is an energy superpower and its petroleum industry plays an important role in the country.
In 2012, Iran exported 1.5 million barrels of crude oil per day, becoming the second-largest exporter among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. In the same year, officials estimated that Iran's annual oil and gas revenues could reach $250 billion by 2015.
However, the industry was disrupted by an international embargo from July 2012 through January 2016. Iran plans to invest $500 billion in the oil sector before 2025.


Startup Investment

In mid-April, the Oil Ministry announced it is planning to invest $80 million in startups and knowledge-based firms.
Zanganeh said at the time, “The ministry is determined to create opportunities for startups so that they can improve different sectors of the energy industry, especially those manufacturing pipes, turbines and compressors.”
He said the ministry wants startups to propose new ideas and innovative plans to help cut production costs and improve productivity in the key sector.
The ministry’s R&D Department is tasked with expanding technological facilities for the rapidly expanding startup companies.
Zanganeh opened the first Oil Technology Park in Shahr-e Rey in southern Tehran last year, which is providing financial aid and equipment to researchers for implementing their plans. 
“Startups have already indigenized key catalysts and essential equipment and parts for the petrochemical and drilling sectors,” Zanganeh said.
According to Mohammad Sadeq Khayyatian, an official with Iran National Innovation Fund, due to overdependence on oil revenues, the government did not pay attention to the revenue-generating potential of knowledge-based firms managed by the youth. 
Khayyatian said that has now changed and Iran is increasingly counting on the technology ecosystem for creating wealth and the government is also increasing its financial support to knowledge-based companies.
“The government is planning to offer tax and customs exemptions to high-tech firms, ease the cumbersome process of issuing commercial licenses, cut social security insurance costs, reduce the obligatory military service duration and help empower innovative business,” he added.


Similar Steps

Since the government announced its policies on supporting knowledge-based companies and fledgling startups in 2013 when President Hassan Rouhani took office in the first term, the technology ecosystem has flourished in many fields. 
Officials believe that tech firms are helping upgrade almost all sectors while gradually transforming traditional economy into a knowledge-based one.
Recently, a startup accelerator signed a deal with INIF to prepare the ground for tech firms to move forward and enter the market in the medical and health industry.
According to Arian Aqili, the head of the accelerator, the fund will provide startups and knowledge-based companies with financial assistance for producing medical prototypes and carrying out pilot tests.
Instead, he added, the accelerator will receive a share of the tech firms’ profit after they commercialize their products.
Regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, probiotic and functional foods, nanotech-targeted therapy for cancer, scar patches, medicine and health-protective items such as sanitizers are subjects explored by the accelerator. 
A similar initiative was launched in late April by INIF with an investment of 140 billion rials ($580,000) in nanotech firms to boost the domestic production of health-protective items used for stemming the transmission of coronavirus.
According to the fund’s website, Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council helped INIF sign contracts with eligible knowledge-based companies.
Mohammad Ali Bahreini, the head of Nano-Fund Department at the council, said the contracts are geared toward the production of N95 and N99 facemasks needed by the medical staff to fight the Covid-19 outbreak. 
The money was also to be spent on upgrading machinery, especially electrospinning machines, used in the production of masks.
Electrospinning is a fiber production method that uses electric force to draw charged threads of polymer solutions or polymer melts up to fiber diameters to the tune of some hundred nanometers. 
The method has the potential to produce seamless non-woven items by integrating advanced manufacturing with fiber electrospinning. This would introduce multi-functionality (flame, chemical, environmental protection) by blending fibers into electrospin-laced layers in combination with polymer coatings. 

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