Apparently Iranian banks have decided to get more engaged with the country’s startup scene. According to an Iranian official, over 100 billion Tomans (26 million dollars) has been invested in knowledge-based or startup companies by an Iranian bank.

It seems that the success stories from some of the big Iranian startups have persuaded a number of Iranian banks to invest in the country’s tech scene. According to Alireza Daliri, Deputy Director of Management Development and Fundraising of Iran’s Vice-Presidency for Science and Technology, Bank Melli Iran —the first national Iranian bank— has invested around over 26 million dollars in the country’s startup scene.

According to Daliri, back in 2012 Iranian banks were hesitant to invest in the country’s startup scene. But since the conventional investments are not as effective as before, these banks have decided to tap into the country’s startup market. Daliri added that the Vice-Presidency for Science and Technology had offered the banks to either establish their own innovation centers/accelerators or invest on large successful and on-going projects, which the banks decided to go with the latter.

According to Tasnim News, a few weeks ago during the inauguration ceremony of Entrepreneurship Development Center of Bank Maskan, Daliri stated that one of the banks has invested 80 billion Tomans (~20 million dollars) on one the country’s major ride-hailing apps. Later a news was circulating around on some local media outlets and Telegram channels that Bank Melli Iran has supposedly invested 80 billion Tomans (20 million dollars) on Tap30 for 25 percent of its shares. TechRasa cannot verify this number as the news has not yet been officially announced by this tech company.

Daliri added that the Vice-Presidency has started negotiations with a number of Iranian banks such as Saderat, Sepah, Export Development Bank, Tourism Bank, Post Bank and Refah, but persuading them to invest in this sector has been difficult and is at the “cultural development stage”. “Some banks have about 20 to 30 traditional companies that are now looking to change their business method,” Daliri said. He added that some of the investment projects that the Vice-Presidency has proposed to the banks are in the fields of pharmaceuticals, buildings, IOT (Internet of Things) and aerospace.

Iran’s startup scene has witnessed exponential growth in the recent years. The number of knowledge-based firms in the country has increased from 52 in March 2014 to 2732 until October 2016, but lack of funding is still a major issue facing the up-and-coming tech companies in Iran.

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