Iran, technology and innovation

In today’s world, science and technology are advancing every day. However, with a view to playing a role in this development, based on Iran’s guidelines, they require a correct vision and the right way to get from the existing realities to what needs to be done.

The relationship between science and technology is a two-way relationship. It is clear that if there is no science and scientific production, progress in other fields will not be possible, and without the progress of technology, neither will science progress.

On the other hand, the existence of advanced technology and industry does not necessarily mean progress, as the entry into Iran of technologies not originated and developed in that State turns the country into a mere consumer of technology.

Progress and development therefore require the creation of an ecosystem of science, technology and planning. These three factors, together, lead to society’s overall progress.

The state of Iranian scientific production after the Islamic Revolution is at an advanced stage. Scientific production is a measure that shows whether a country is progressing or not. This is the reason why constant monitoring of the state of scientific production indicates the health of society’s progress as a whole. By observing the level of scientific development, we can see to what extent the results of the policies implemented in recent years in Iran have paid off.

The amount of scientific production in the country can be checked through many reliable sources. Science Metrics – which analyses the scientific situation of countries around the world – has announced that Iran’s scientific growth rate is higher than the average rate of global scientific production. This rate, on a global scale, makes the Islamic Republic of Iran the fastest growing country in science and technology.

The authoritative research information website and platform, Web of Science, has also presented interesting results in its statistical exploration of the countries’ scientific status. According to this website’s data and information, in Iran the number of articles published by Iranian scientists and researchers was equal to 55,509 as early as 2017, which shows a very significant increase. This progressive growth places the Islamic Republic of Iran among the top sixteen countries for research and scientific production.

In its data, the Insights website has published scientific works from different countries in more than 250 thematic areas. Statistics of the country’s top 10 scientific fields show that engineering, electricity and electronics are the most interesting areas for Iranian researchers. Said statistics also show that 23,344 scientific papers have been published in these areas, up from 669 in 1978. In 2022, instead, according to data released by Scopus, Iran published 78,225 scientific papers: as a result, it ranks 15th in the world in terms of scientific papers published for the fourth consecutive year. A total of 3,950,305 works have been indexed in Scopus. With 1,016,311 works, the People’s Republic of China is the source of around 25 per cent of the world’s scientific publications and ranks first in this respect. The United States, India, Great Britain and Germany rank from second to fifth.

But let us revert to our main topic.

This fast Iranian growth is the result of the State’s general policies to advance science in the country. Something that did not exist in the days of the so-called Westernism imposed by the Shah.

With the passing of time since the Islamic revolution, a big step has been taken towards the autonomy of various institutions in the country, including universities. Increasing the number and improving the quality of universities has been one of the main measures implemented since the first half of the 1980s. Making up for the backwardness in this area was one of the most important goals that had to be reached in order to enable the country to achieve the progress that has been recorded in recent years.

After the structural changes made in the early years with regard to the form of government and the political system, there were changes in the country’s scientific system. The subsequent issue was to pay attention to the actual production of science and not just to the refinement of studies. The statements made by political leaders between 2000 and 2001 at the Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) and the issue of the production movement can be considered the key to the beginning of the country’s scientific movement. At the meetings in that University, for the first time the issue was raised of asking academics to invest State capital in the search for new brains to produce innovation and software without asking the more developed countries in the field to do so.

Today Iran expects its universities to be able to provide a scientific and technological production movement, as well as comprehensive and competitive software, so that students and scholars can become the true building blocks of society with their suggestions and scientific education and training.

Iran has initiated a huge scientific movement since 2001. Scientific innovation fosters independence – which in itself has not only a political significance, but means not needing others, through new ways of thinking that break the boundaries of knowledge that others probably consider to be the repositories, i.e. the sellers. Hence the focus on technology (the matter) is the foundation on which the country’s science (the spirit) will then stand, i.e. the fundamental pillars of contemporary Iran.

A new look at science and knowledge that went well beyond the educational approach and scientific production and followed scientific innovation.

In 2003 it was deemed necessary to include science in the country’s implementation mechanisms and programmes, as well as the link between industry and universities, along with the positive trend in scientific production and software production. Indeed, science seen also as production was an important starting point for a broader action, i.e. aimed at the country’s industrial development.

This emphasis on the software production and movement has brought Iran to 16th place in the world in terms of scientific production and accounts for around 2% of the world’s scientific output, considering that Iran accounts for just over 1% of the world’s population.

Strengthening the country’s current scientific flow and directing it to solve problems and needs rely on the creation and training of human resources capable of shaping the movement of this continuous inflow of young scholars and talented professors, which led to the establishment of the Iran National Elite Foundation (INEF).

It is a governmental organisation whose main purpose is to recognise, organise and support Iran’s national elite talents.

The members of the Foundation include all those who display exceptionally high intellectual abilities, academic aptitude, creative skills and artistic talent, particularly those who contribute to the promotion of global science and highly cited scientists and researchers. INEF is a State organisation composed of members with significant scientific and executive background and skills. Its main mission is to preserve and nurture spiritual capital, i.e. elite human resources. A force supported by the State and showing the progress of the country.

In the early years of the country’s scientific development, it was the leadership that emphasised the need for a foundation-style institution to deal with the problems that gradually emerged over the years. There was an absolute need to identify young people, to educate, orient and guide them towards necessary and appropriate activities. First and foremost, it was necessary to help and pay attention to those who, despite their great intellectual abilities, were unable – for economic reasons – to continue their studies. The most important tasks of the Foundation were therefore to address their problems, as well as make room for their proposals.

In the early 1980s – as mentioned above – the issue of the focus on technology and the relationship between industry and universities had become one of the important topics of general policies. At that time, the idea of creating the Department of Science and Technology was raised by the State leadership, so that this working and study group, together with other government activities, could organise, orient and direct university science towards the real and practical implementation of scientific advances, and not remain only at the level of sterile theorising.

Supporting investment and participating in the commercialisation of ideas have also been one of the country’s general policies announced and advocated by the State leadership. In recent years, paying attention to the link between science, industry and the elite has been one of the important points that have been raised in development policies and programmes.

The results are visible but, in the EU colonies, people pretend nothing is happening for fear that friendly fire might hit them by accident or that an accident might make them orphans of some political father.

Giancarlo Elia Valori
Giancarlo Elia Valori
Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is a world-renowned Italian economist and international relations expert, who serves as the President of International Studies and Geopolitics Foundation, International World Group, Global Strategic Business In 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Giancarlo Elia Valori chair of Peace and Regional Cooperation. Prof. Valori also holds chairs for Peace Studies at Yeshiva University in New York and at Peking University in China. Among his many honors from countries and institutions around the world, Prof. Valori is an Honorable of the Academy of Science at the Institute of France, Knight Grand Cross, Knight of Labor of the Italian Republic, Honorary Professor at the Peking University