News > Startups have changes the taste of the society
Interview of Iran Newspaper with the Vice President for Science and Technology Affairs;
Startups have changes the taste of the society
Startups have changes the taste of the society
After five years, we head to Sheikh Bahaei Boulevard again. My last interview with Sorena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology affairs, was five years ago and in the middle of his two important trips from New York to Tokyo. He talked about scientific diplomacy, the return of elites, and necessity of changing the foundations of raw-selling economy to knowledge-based economy. Now, I want to know what has happened during these five years?
According to the public relations and information center of the Vice-Presidency for science and technology affairs, the text of the interview of Iran Newspaper with the vice president for science and technology affairs is presented below:
After five years, we head to Sheikh Bahaei Boulevard again. My last interview with Sorena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology affairs, was five years ago and in the middle of his two important trips from New York to Tokyo. He talked about scientific diplomacy, the return of elites, and necessity of changing the foundations of raw-selling economy to knowledge-based economy. Now, I want to know what has happened during these five years? Is there any sign of change in the economy that depends on underground resources and raw selling? Could be expressed that a new network is being formed under the layer of traditional economy with a new approach, a less-known situation that cannot be properly understood by using analytical tools stemming from the same traditional economy? If important phenomena have occurred during these five years, why there is insufficient media coverage in this field? We face a mass of news on knowledge-based companies, science and technology centers, and change of the economic ecosystem. However, we have a low understanding of the news. Where is the problem laying; the media or source of media?
We look the domestic domain in the Vice-Presidency. In this regard, we mainly focus on the export of products in foreign areas since there are efficient and often excessive foundations for export. We are an importing country and have strong import structures, both in terms of culture and technical mechanisms. Therefore, we are seriously active in the field of export.
In addition, we have plans to return elites to the country and establish relations with emerging scientific countries such as China and Russia. These are policies existing in the infrastructure of the Vice-Presidency, and we have focused on them in our plans. However, we are practically coordinators of different devices and we are not implementing them. Our scope of work is the whole cabinet and the whole country. Therefore, we work with the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Science, Education and other ministries and institutions to advance policies and we do not have a separate executive system.
If we carry our foreign activities, such as investment and guidance of export, the return of elites and development of relations with emerging scientific countries, concomitant with domestic activities, that adhere to the general policy of the government to decentralize infrastructure and activities, we understand that many activities have been performed in this area. You are constantly clicking and visiting a project in cities. Yesterday, you went to Khomein for another visit. Why are these activities not fully covered?
In the knowledge-based economy, our main concern is creating an ecosystem that requires a cultural infrastructure. If you want to switch the basis of economy from underground resources to human resources, you must start with people on the street to understand whether they more respect a young person who has money or knowledge. This is the starting point, which is extended to universities, followed by other aspects of society. Serious phenomena must occur in the economic structure of the country parallel with this work. In this regard, we must deal with the Mafia and correct the bureaucratic business space. Having so many staff complicates the work and establishment of bureaucracy. Due to this need, we created the knowledge-based economy culture-building headquarter along with strategic technologies headquarter, which are very active. Cultural mainstreaming, content production, discourse and promotion of technological and knowledge-based economy and support of national and Iranian products are among the most important goals of these headquarters. If you look at the radio and television programs, the press and the media from this window, you will realize that space has been changed completely.
Before I become the vice president for science and technology affairs, the science and technology section of newspapers and media was secondary and was overlooked. Today, one of the serious sectors has become the media with the help of the knowledge-based economy and culture-building technologies development headquarter, extended to other areas. This is mainly due to the fact that the development of knowledge-based companies and our technology automatically turns into a tool for change of media culture.
Today, Iranian startups have been turned into large tools for changing the taste of the society, which is necessary, meaning that the people must feel knowledge and technology in their daily life to understand their importance. When a student’s roommate has a successful company worth several billion tomans, he is motivated to create a knowledge-based company and startup to follow a new idea. We do not want a university that trains students who only want government jobs or scholarship from a foreign university. We want a university with students who have determined goals since the beginning so that they could create a company after their graduation. All of these must come together to form the main ecosystem. People’s view has changed completely since 4-5 years ago, and determination of creative youth in knowledge-based companies has led to generating thousands of billion tomans.
There are many defects in the traditional economy’s structures and we have many concerns in this regard. However, it could be expressed that other phenomena are occurring in less-known underlying layers. Let me put it this way; for a country that has been the emperor of the world for four-five thousand years and has rich historical, scientific, cultural, technological and business experiences, it is a shame to say that we are desperate since no one has bought our oil. This is exactly like an employee who thinks that he will starve to death if he loses his job despite the fact that he is educated and has wisdom and innovation and can transform his life. Unfortunately, economies depending on underground resources are bureaucratic economies with problematic business environments.
With this amount of human resources, we do not need raw selling. What we need is a new innovation and technology ecosystem. In the traditional economy, we think that money is the solution to everything. Money brings happiness, employment, and credit. If a problem occurs, if the country needs knowledge or has issues in terms of research and employment, all of these are because of money, and access to financial resources means everything. Meanwhile, the main element in the field of research is human beings. If research is efficiently carried out, it will definitely generate money. In traditional view, research is carried out with tools. Having a suitable laboratory and updated devices without being tested once a year does not mean you have conducted research. However, such a view is not in line with the structures of an innovative economy. Innovation comes from deprivation and has other necessities and structure. The reality is that no wealthy child becomes an entrepreneur. No economy is dynamic if it feeds off free sources.
Innovation was nowhere to be found if we were not dealing with sanctions. This can be a strong basis for the future economy of the country; an economy whose structures embrace innovation, not suppress it. In oil-based economy, any type of innovation and creativity is suppressed, which is carried out by the structure itself and not the ministers and deputies of the country. When free money enters the economy, the economy turns into a strong tool for suppression and fighting creativity. For instance, the import structure injects lack of work due to the overload of money into the economy of the country like a preventive culture. Therefore, work based on knowledge cannot enter this economy.
Over the years, we have attempted to change the ecosystem. Today, I am happy to see that everything is changed in cities of Iran and a new ecosystem is being formed. You exampled Khomein. I was there and was happy to see that the youth are working in areas such as startups, medicinal plants and even biotechnology and have many inventions. This is very important and has occurred all over the world.
Is it really that big of a deal?
Yes, since the youth has come to the field and find the right way. However, the ecosystem we are talking about is still incomplete and some parts of the puzzle still need work. For instance, the creative children of small cities still have insufficient access to financial sources of the private sector. The private sector must trust these people and enter the investment stage and the government infrastructures must be established so that the youth could continue their work with fewer costs.
While these necessities are still not provided, great phenomenon is occurring from the same place. Basically, people are more creative when there is shortage of facilities.
What do you mean by ecosystem? Is it infrastructure in addition to culture? Does it mean that we must face an atmosphere?
Yes, in this atmosphere, the family would help out the youth in case of financial problems. A culture that encourages entrepreneurship and valuates this issue. Let me make an example; in provinces with oil reservoirs, you will definitely see young people who want to be recruited by oil companies. Here is our problem since the youth think that recruitment means everything; they earn income and they can buy a house and car, and that is it. They do not think that the dream of being an employer means lowering your self-esteem and dreams. The same applies to universities; a university that mostly invests in industrial contracts, knowledge-based companies and selling technology is different from an affiliated university that cannot even change its back street. We have complicated issues in some parts of education, that need correction. We can correct them since we have the most second and third-rank human resource criteria in the country.
Let me go back to a few questions back; I am informed of the news of the Vice-Presidency every day via text messages, and sometimes follow up issues through other channels. However, it is true that I even sometimes cannot understand the content of news as the audience. I mean, a news wave has been formed that still lacks interesting and comprehensible content. Most people still have insufficient knowledge of science and technology parks and knowledge-based companies. Where is the problem; the media or its source?
What you say is true but needs time. Some time ago, some questions were asked from people as one of the programs of the knowledge-based economy and culture-building technologies development headquarter, which yielded interesting results. For instance, the audience was asked to describe science and technology parks, most of whom described these places as normal parks in cities. However, everything is getting better day by day. Today, people are more familiarized with these words and phenomena since we have talked about them a lot. The technology expands the correct culture for its use, but we want to use domestic technology and apps. As we see, our youth are working along with their foreign counterparts and people have put their trust in them. When we go to a pharmacy, they will regret that the foreign version of a medicine is not available. This culture must be changed. The automobile factories hugely damaged our culture by losing the trust of the public in Iranian product and domestic production. We also have not entered this field since the ecosystem of the mentioned industry does not support innovation.
These days you are focusing on the faulty food and medicine cycle. Why is that?
Fortunately, in the field of medicine, good things have happened over the years, and we have been able to emerge as one of the key strengths in biotechnology. However, in some areas, we have inherent characteristics of being an Iranian, one of which is biotechnology. We produce about 97 percent of our in-house medicines, and since last year we have seriously planned to produce the remaining three percent. We also have about $700 million worth of imported drug raw materials that we have planned to cut our total dependence on the drug. I think in the next three years the whole problem of the drug field will be solved. In some areas, such as food production, we have a defective cycle that needs to be remedied.
Could you please explain more?
Let me say that the system of advanced countries is that they provide you the field and determine your role. When we talk about the knowledge-based economy, we are actually talking about value added. For instance, you can buy a 100-ml perfume bottle at 100 dollars while we sell a barrel of raw oil at 50 dollars, meaning that you have exchanged three thousand bottles of oil with one perfume bottle while the raw materials of perfume are not expensive.
A few weeks ago, I visited a knowledge-based company with an area of 200 m in Chalus, managed by seven young individuals. While the input of the company is cow bone, which is cheap similar to perfume raw materials, its output is turned into a powder, six gr of which is sold at 350 thousand tomans for tooth implant, which is more expensive than gold. You asked about food circle and I always give the example of chicken. We think that we are chicken producers. That is what appears to be but we produce chicken more than the country’s need, which seems to be making the market for others. Consider a montage line, the input of which is one-day chicken imported from England. Then, they say that this version of English chicken eats a specific type of food that is not related to the agricultural ecosystem of our country. The most imported products of the country are press cake and things that are not related to our agricultural system. After importing the food, we realize that the chicken must consume 20 types of amino acids mixed with its food by a specific method. In addition, the chicken must be vaccinated and receive special medicine. In the end, we find out that the chicken needs probiotics to be fully grown. In this area, you just develop chicken coops and make a new market, the benefit of which is for others. Meanwhile, imported vaccines can be produced inside the country with one-tenth of the actual price. However, we are forced to develop the market in favor of others due to limitations. All of these are because of the power of knowledge. The rocket itself is no more than a few kilos of iron, but the power of knowledge makes it a few kilos of iron into a multi-million dollar or multi-million dollar aircraft. The same applied to the field of food. It has been a year since we have seriously focused on the food chain and have persuaded many companies to work in this area. For example, we encouraged human biotech companies to work on livestock, poultry and fishery products, which are simpler than human field. developments have been made in the field of agriculture, and high-tech companies have been established, which will soon transform this area. It does not matter what kind of weapons we have if we fail to supply food in the country. This applies to all countries in the world and not just Iran.
In the foreign field, we are more focused on exporting products because there are enough and even more than enough import fields. Basically, we are an importing country and we have strong import structures, both culturally and technically and executively. Before I enter the Vice-Presidency, the science and technology part of newspapers and the media was a secondary section and was generally overlooked by our colleagues. Today, it is one of the most serious parts of the media and has been extended to other regions as well.