Profiles of main tech parks, accelerators, hackathons

The Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) was established in 1971, following a presidential directive of 1969 with the overt goals to promote and coordinate scientific activities in the country, particularly those related to education, research and development, and to work on projects needed for the economic and social development of the country, notably on the computerisation of governmental enterprises and institutions.

In 1973, Syrian late president Hafez al-Asad issued a new directive, officially authorising relations between the SSRC and the Syrian army. Analysts believe the SSRC is responsible for research and development of nuclear, biological, chemical, and missile-related technology and since 2005 has been included in the sanction list of the US Treasury Department. The US Government has imposed sanctions also on other research institutes considered subordinates of the SSRC: al-Ma‘had al-‘ali li-l-‘ulum al-tatbiqiyya wa’l-taknulujiya (Higher Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology - HIAST), because it provides training to engineers affiliated with the SSRC; and Syria’s Electronics Institute, as it is “responsible for missile-related research and development.”

In 1989, at the initiative of Basil al-Asad, brother of the current president, who died in a car accident, al-Jam‘iyya al-‘ilmiyya al-suriyya li-l-ma‘lumatiyya (Syrian Computer Society - SCS) was founded. The SCS aims to spread IT culture in Syrian society, and assist in the promotion and organisation of the information and communications technology market in the country. SCS has established a number of ICT incubators in the country, to foster and promote the development of new ICT enterprises.

According to the 2012 report by Madar Research and Development Centre on Arab ICT Use and Social Network Adoption, Syria had witnessed a dramatic growth in international Internet bandwidth shortly before the political turmoil, with growth rates registering a sky-high 184 percent compared to the previous year and the ICT infrastructures steadily improving (Internet penetration was at 23.92 percent and computer penetration was modest at 7.23 percent, whilst based on data of Internet world stats, in December 2019 there were more than 7.6 million Internet users in Syria, with a penetration of 43.5 percent of the population. The Speedtest provided by the American web service Ookla reveals that the average speed of fixed Internet connection is 7.31 Mbp (April 2020).

According to UNESCO website, there is a Science and Technology Park in Syria. The only site that could be found online is the Hadiqat taknulujiya al-ma‘lumat “IT Plaza”, which was established in 2008, as a result of the cooperation between the Ministry of Communication and the South Korean International Cooperation Agency to spread technology among young people. It is located in Western Mezze, but no official website is currently available. However, judging from the information that could be found online it seems a place with modest capacities and resources. On the HCSR’s official website the construction project of a Technological Pole (managed by the Damascus University) dated July 2007 is mentioned, but there is no mention of any progress in the implementation of this project.

In January 2020, the Iranian Ministry of Science, Research and Technology announced on its website that Iran will contribute to establish a joint Science and Technology Park to facilitate the exchange of capabilities with Syrian universities and research institutions.

The 6th Syrian exhibition of information technology Syria Tech planned for June 2020 was cancelled probably because of the COVID19 outbreak and postponed to June 2021. The exhibition includes IT companies and young teams specialised in the technology field.