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Startups Helping Combat Covid-19

The novel coronavirus pandemic has created a storm in healthcare systems around the globe, including Iran. This unexpected situation has intensified demand for smart solutions to support healthcare providers and reduce the transmission of the virus.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has created a storm in healthcare systems around the globe, including Iran. This unexpected situation has intensified demand for smart solutions to support healthcare providers and reduce the transmission of the virus. Fortunately, the growing technology ecosystem in Iran is increasingly involved in developing protection against the virus in several ways. While startups are smaller economic units, they are best suited to respond to critical needs on a strict deadline.

 

In the past seven months, diligent startups and technology-based firms (TBFs), with a commitment to do what is needed to help curb the spread of Covid-19, have helped stock the shelves of drugstores with health products such as facemasks and sanitizers; which shelves were swept clean by the public’s panic purchases in the early days of outbreak in February.

 

According to the Vice Presidency for Science and Technology, a fervent supporter of the growing tech ecosystem, homegrown tech firms have managed to produce two types of coronavirus test kits, one for blood and the other for saliva. “Surgical and N95 facemasks are being produced in the country and soon 40 new production lines will be added to the current capacity,” the vice president, Sorena Sattari, told reporters.

 

In addition, local firms are producing tons of hand and surface sanitizers of different kinds, making the country self-sufficient in supplying these products. Stepping beyond the aforementioned consumer goods, Iranian tech teams have almost fulfilled the health sector’s demand for high-tech medical devices.

 

Sattari noted that hospitals are not facing any shortage of health devices and equipment, including CT Scan machines, ventilators, ICU and surgery room equipment, oxygen concentrators, blood oxygen meters and BiPAP machines.

 

Ozone generators, which sterilize and purify the air via O3 molecules, ventilators, nanotechnology face shields, medical and surgery gowns, silicone gloves and hospital oxygen capsules are among the products successfully localized by the tech ecosystem. TBFs and startups are also working on providing accessible telemedicine, smart health platforms and remote care tools to ease the public pursuing their health conditions.
 
 
State Support

 

The negative effects of the outbreak, however, have severely hit a major part of startups, TBFs, despite their diligent efforts to help buttress the fight against the coronavirus. As a result, Iranian authorities are increasing support to these entities. In mid-March, Iran National Innovation Fund (INIF) started paying 50 trillion rials ($161.3 million) in loans to TBFs to boost their operations.

 

With the Covid-19 outbreak thrashing the Iranian startup ecosystem’s prospects, the state fund has extended an aid package to the sector. According to INIF chairman, Ali Vahdat, some 200 firms expressed interest in receiving the fund, although only the most eligible will be selected.

 


“The move is aimed at increasing the production of health-protective items needed during the pandemic, including facemasks, hand sanitizers, alcohol-based disinfectants and medical air disinfectant machines, along with antibacterial fabrics and covers for hospital use,” he said.

 

To receive the loan and start production, the applicant TBFs should be certified by all the institutions involved, including Iran’s Food and Drug Administration and Ministry of Health and Medical Education.

 

Vahdat noted that Vice Presidency for Science and Technology and Iran Nanotechnology Innovation Council have agreed to scrutinize the credentials of applicants and introduce the final list of eligible firms. Referring to the spread of novel coronavirus in the country, Vahdat said the pandemic cannot be controlled without utilizing the potentials of the domestic tech ecosystem. “The country’s knowledge-based economy, which has currently grown significantly, is being helped by young entrepreneurs and tech teams to withstand the negative effects of the disease,” he added.

 

Source: Financial Tribune