Landscape analysis

Iranian entrepreneurs and scientists across the world have indeed a lot of success in technology. Within the country, authorities are very much interested in technology and innovation. Under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency, in 2009 the national science budget increased from 0.4 percent to 0.87 percent of GDP. In 2011 his government introduced the “Comprehensive Scientific Plan”, in order to increase Iran’s scientific infrastructure by implementing 224 scientific projects by 2025.

Sharif University was established in 1966 at the time of Muhammad Reza Shah and is currently Iran’s leading institution for engineering and physical science. Based in Tehran, it has an international campus in Kish Island, Persian Gulf. It ranks 5th in the Middle East.

A sort of Iranian Silicon Valley developed in the northern neighbours of Tehran. The targeted market is Iran and the working language is Persian. Some companies’ websites provide also the English version, mainly for marketing purposes.

Many Iranian startups were created in this area, often offering products modelled on Western equivalents. The following are the most successful:

  • Digikala, specialised in e-commerce, is a private enterprise founded in February 2007 by Hamid Mohammadi. In 2017 it had 2,600 employees and was valued around US$150m.
  • Cafe Bazaar, an app for Android, was founded by Hessam Armandehi in 2010, it has 20 million users and is valued around US$20m).
  • ZarinPal is a fintech company. On 1 September, 2018 it was one of the first to receive Shaparak’s technical approval, meaning the approval of the Central Bank of Iran for operating the country’s payment network.
  • Zoraq allows Iranians to book trips.
  • Takhfifan (which means discount) targets youths with discounted holiday and catering discounts.
  • Aparat is the Iranian YouTube.
  • Snapp and Tap30 are private cab e-hailing platforms providing standard and premium logistics services to companies and individuals. They are useful to move around in busy Tehran, the capital city where 14 million people live and get around mostly by car. Snapp has removed the ghabeli nadare culture (meaning it is not a big deal, you can get it for free). This is not actually true, because the destination you want to go has a fixed price, the driver takes you there and then you pay automatically with the credit already loaded on you Snapp app. Afterwards, the customer can rate the trip and the driver can rate the customer. The customer cannot be asked to pay tips or extras.
  • MamanPaz is a network of housewives who cook and deliver to customers’ doors.
  • TaxiModa is a sales site offering the latest collection of local and foreign brands in fashion and apparel with discounts.

On 24 October 2018, the representative of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in Iran said that the body is ready to cooperate with Iran on establishing green industries, with energy productivity at the centre.