Isfahan Science & Technology Town (ISTT) Isfahan Regional Center for Science Parks and Incubators Development, under the auspices of UNESCO International & Scientific Cooperation Dept.
Isfahan Science & Technology Town (ISTT) which is the leading and pioneering science town in Iran with the cooperation of Isfahan Regional Center for Technology Business Incubators and Science Parks Development, under the auspices of UNESCO organized the 11th Sheikh Bahai Technopreneurship Festival. The annual Sheikh-Baha’i Technopreneurship Festival is held to promote and develop creativity, nurturing the culture of innovation, fostering Technopreneurship (entrepreneurship based on creativity and innovation), and introducing Technopreneurship as a tool for the development of economic growth inside different countries. Such an event automatically creates an interface between active participants of various fields of Technopreneurship, which in itself promotes further innovative thinking.
The structure of the Sheikh-Bahai Technopreneurship Festival is based on two general sections, Competition and Non-competition. Identification of the best technopreneurs, the best business planners, and the best technopreneur sponsors are carried out in the competition section. The non-competition section includes Exhibition, Idea Exchange Market and Training Seminars/Workshops.
This festival is annually held in Isfahan and it is a unique and original concept for the expansion of new ideas and out of box thinking in all fields of practice. Another similar event that was scheduled to take place for the first time was the initiation of the first National Olympiad on students’ business plans. This event fell exactly under the heading and objectives of the annual Sheikh-Baha’i Technopreneurship Festival, thus the combination of the two would greatly enhance the effectiveness and reach of each individual program. The parts of the festival which were unique to this festival were the admittance of business plans from universities across the country in the National Olympiad of Students’ Business Plans and also the presence of international investors. Although at this time the festival performs as a national event for Technopreneurs in the country, in prospective it can grow internationally and include participants from the whole region. A short report of the 11th festival and its new events is provided bellow.
2. The competitive section of the Sheikh-Baha’i festival
2-1 Competition of Business planners
The competitive section of activities planned for business planners was inclusive of two parts; open business planners, and national Olympiad for student business planning. Open Business Planners:
Business planners are the real and legal entities who have a new technology-based idea in mind to start their business with, and based on that they have prepared their business plan.
These plans are at first investigated in the business planners working group and those plans that have been prepared based on the appropriate principles of writing and rules of business plan writing will go for further assessment. The plans that have been prepared more closely to the principles of BP writing will be selected to go for interview stage. In the technical interview sections these plans are investigated technically and the best of them will be selected and introduced in the Festival.
There is no subject limitation for this section and both real and legal entities in the fields of services, industry, agriculture, new technologies, etc can attend this section. The criteria to which these business plans were judged upon are as follows:
The level of creativity and innovation in the plan
How well the given opportunity has been used for increasing income
Technical feasibility and practicality of the plan and the necessary capacity for investment
The capability and potentials of the team for implementing the plan
This year, 16 out of 100 plans were submitted to the secretariat of the festival, which after two rounds of arbitration reached the final stage of judgment. The final stage was conducted in person in a three-day festival. 3 were chosen as top plans by the Referee Committee and were awarded in the closing ceremony.
National Olympiad on Students’ Business plans:
In this part which was held for the first time in the festival, 200 business plans were submitted from universities across the country. The Idea behind the start of this competition was to motivate Technopreneurs from an earlier period and to cultivate this way of thinking within the higher educational system. The first and second rounds of arbitration were conducted by the secretariat of the festival with the cooperation of science and technology parks of provinces whom are partners to the festival. This in itself, familiarized nearby science parks and incubators with the potential talent pool and new business ideas existing amongst them. After the first two rounds, 10 plans were selected to compete in the final stage. Eventually, the top 3 plans were chosen via in person arbitration, and were awarded in the closing ceremony.
2-2 Competition of Technopreneurs
Technopreneurs are those who have provided a new technology-based idea to the market through establishing a venture business in the form of a product or service. Such a competition amongst these innovative minds can lead to the creation and acceleration of productivity and efficiency improving methods of production and in general further stimulate the economic growth of a country. In the submission part of this section, more than 250 applicants submitted their ideas. The forms and applications were reviewed based on the assessment criteria by the technopreneurs working group and when necessary a visit or a telephone interview was conducted, this was arranged and followed by interview sessions where these plans were technically investigated and the best of them were selected and introduced to the festival. There was no subject limitation for this section and both real and legal entities in the fields of services, industry, agriculture, new technologies, etc attended this section. The conclusion was that 95 applicant companies were recognized eligible to compete. After a remote arbitration via telephone, 75companies out of 95 reached the face-to-face arbitration phase in categories of young, growing, developed, human sciences, and technopreneurship continuation. After which, 26 were nominated in the mentioned categories to compete in the final round of arbitration. The final round was conducted during the festival and 3 of the young companies, 4 of the growing, 4 of the developed, 1 from technopreneurship continuation, and 2 from the humanities technopreneurs companies were selected and granted awards in the closing ceremony.
3. The non-competitive section of the Sheikh-Baha’i festival
3-1 Idea Bourse and the Sales and Distribution of Technology
In the idea bourse, 17 out of 110 plans submitted to the secretariat of the festival were nominated to introduce and attract investors. In addition, 16 out of the 60 received plans from the field of technology sales and distribution were nominated to be sent to these investors. Part of the reason to start an Idea Bourse and the Sales and Distribution of Technology by this festival, was to provide a chance to seriously engage innovation and idea owners with investors and capitalists within the country, furthermore with the attendance of companies from other countries like China, and Nigeria, it was a unique opportunity to introduce our idea owners to their foreign counterparts. Thus, within such an environment, negotiations between chosen groups of idea makers, investors, and experts from ISTT took place and consequently, reached a point where preparations for agreements in investments were attained. Usually these preparations will lead to prompt signing of contracts between investors and owners of ideas.
3-2 Exhibition of the Achievements of Technopreneurs’
Alongside of the festival an exhibition displaying the scientific and technological achievements of k-based companies and owners of ideas is held. During the last festival that was held in an area of 1200 square meters with the presence of 50 companies, the technopreneur companies represented in the competition sections, technology owners, industries and companies, and science parks and technology incubators from various provinces displaced their latest achievements. According to the arrangements made, interested students, owners of knowledge-based companies, state governments and investors visited the exhibition.
3-3 Training Workshops
International training workshops are among the other programs during ISTT’s Sheikh Bahai Festival. In the 11th annual festival, two international training workshops were held with the attendance of international and national trainers. The purpose of these workshops was to enhance the knowledge and skills of managers of science parks and technology incubators and also managers of private knowledge-based companies. There were participants from other countries too.
3-4 Idea Show
This is also a new initiative in ISTT recently to organize idea show events in which a pitching competition will be held and the owners of ideas, whether students or others, will be given 3 minute to pitch and to present their ideas. ISTT has already had successful experiences in this regard. It has successfully linked the investors with the owners of ideas during several idea show and pitching events.
4. Festival Winners and Awards
There are awards and prizes for the winners in different sections of the festival.
The categories in which the winners are granted awards include: business planners, National Olympiad for student business planners, Technopreneurs (young group), Technopreneurs (growing group), Technopreneurs (developed group), Technopreneurs (humanities group), Technopreneurs (technopreneurship continuation group) and Idea Shows. The sponsors of the event are also awarded.