The National Elites Foundation was set up in 2004 with the aim of providing the innovators and leaders in science with financial and intellectual support. The organization offers different kinds of support to its members including scientific, monetary/non-monetary incentives such as granting low-interest or gratuitous loans, supplying any sources or laboratory facilities scarce in the country, involving the members with in-demand/priority national projects, assisting the members to commercialize their innovations or move them to the policy level, as well as providing them with other similar support services and networking opportunities.
In December 2013, a new department was created within the foundation, called the Deputy of International Affairs. It aims to harness talent of non-resident Iranians to improve domestic capacity in S&T and take advantage of experience of the diaspora. The foundation tailors its services to four different groups: Iranian PhD graduates from the world’s top universities, Iranian professors teaching in the world’s top universities, Iranian experts and managers heading the world’s top scientific centers and companies in technological fields, and -last but not least- non-resident Iranian investors and entrepreneurs with successful experiences. The eligibility criteria were revised in 2014 to include groups and individuals based on their research expertise, experience, and academic performance.