16506
$300m Science, Technology Fund Created
Sci & Tech

$300m Science, Technology Fund Created

Nearly 10 trillion rials ($300 million at market exchange rate) have been allocated to “commercializing technology”, said a presidential deputy to IRNA.
To support inventors and promote cutting-edge scientific products, knowledge-based companies will be the primary recipients of the funding, said Ali Vatani, technology deputy at the Presidential Office of Science and Technology.
Loan ceilings have been set at 100 billion rials ($3 million) with interest rates no more than 15 percent. Eligible researchers are free to apply, the official noted. Also, an additional 50 million rials ($1,500) will be given for registering inventions.  
Last year (ended March 20) the credits granted for commercializing science amounted to 18 trillion rials ($542 million); however, only 11 percent went to knowledge-based companies.
The remaining funds were allocated to major national projects with a focus on fundamental domestic needs. These include pharmaceuticals, nuclear medicine, and building sea-fairing research vessels, a representative of the office told the Financial Tribune.  
Also, specialized exhibitions on laboratory equipment will continue to be held annually with the help of the Presidential Office of Science and Technology, the ministry of health and medical education, and the ministry of science, research, and technology, the person added.
The primary goal of the events is to help "reduce imports and promote domestic manufacturing." Prices are subsidized; depending on the class and importance of products, customers are given discounts of up to 50 percent. Schools and universities are the main buyers.   
Although the idea of a $3 million loan seems attractive, some research-based companies are unimpressed.
"The government has always been making similar promises," said one company adding, "We have never seen the money."
The Rouhani administration has increased its funding to promote science and technology in the fiscal year ending March 2016, with 100 billion rials being designated to the pharmaceutical sector alone. The country currently has 1,500 knowledge-based companies but this number is likely to increase with the funding proposed.

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