11/18/2017, 18.08
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Innovative start-ups hit the new Silk Road to boost Iran’s economy and development

Silk Road Start-up competition is the first public-private initiative. Iran and foreign and experts travelled 4,000 kilometres to seven cities to evaluate hundreds of projects. The final event is set for early 2018 on Kish Island.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – Iran recently held a Silk Road Start-up competition, the first in its history, to promote ideas and projects designed to improve lives and a new model of development.

Out of the hundreds of applicants, ten were selected. The latter include a social media approach to spread the culture of book reading and supporting authors, an online learning platform providing skill based video tutorials for Persian-speaking users, a media platform covering Tehran’s cultural and entertainment scene, an Uber-like platform which assigns loads to trucks in different areas and cities, a marketplace for water-friendly food and agriculture products including saffron, and a marketplace for truckers, shipping and cargo companies.

The top ten projects will be presented at a two-day conference on Kish Island, known as the Pearl of the Persian Gulf, sometime in the first part of next year. The date has not been chosen. Three winners will be selected.

Over a ten-day period (22-31October), the Silk Road Start-up’s team along with six jury members travelled over 4,000 kilometres around Iran to the cities of Tabriz, Rasht, Tehran, Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz and Mashhad to find the country’s best start-ups.

More than 1,500 start-ups enthusiasts, students and experts attended the local events around Iran. Over 20 per cent of the start-ups founders who pitched during the events were female entrepreneurs.

The projects selected will receive a cash prize to develop their idea, media coverage as well as access to potential investors.

The event was backed Iran’s Vice-Presidency for Science and Technology, the Innovation Acceleration Centre, Tehran Chamber of Commerce, and a number of science and technology parks, universities and start-ups in Iran.

For several experts, Iran is a strategic market with a population of some 80 million people, 66 of whom are under the age of 35, with 230,000 new engineers each year, and strong mobile penetration.

“I’m pleasantly surprised by the quality of start-ups in Iran and I’m sure the country is all set to produce unicorn start-ups very soon,” said Kiran Maverick, Founder of I Am Tomorrow and The August Fest, and one of the international jury members of Silk Road Start-up.

“I realized every city in Iran has its own thriving start-ups ecosystem, and entrepreneurs are solving problems locally,” he added.

“For any start-ups ecosystem to grow, the most important thing is to solve right problems and I observed that Iranian entrepreneurs are exactly doing the same.”

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