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Bridge 2014 High Tech Entrepreneurship in Iran: Opportunities and Challenges

Press Release by University Of California, Berkeley

[Berkeley, CA] - For the first time, seasoned entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and Iran will convene to explore the opportunities and challenges of high tech entrepreneurship in Iran and its impact on the country's ongoing economic development. Bridge 2014 will raise awareness about the critical need to build educational bridges and promote the culture of “Entrepreneurs without Borders”.

The Bridge 2014 conference (September 6, 2014 at the UC Berkeley Wheeler Auditorium) is predicated on the notion that the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation is the indispensable key to sustainable growth. This gathering will be part of a global effort to draw attention to “High Tech Entrepreneurship in Iran: Opportunities and Challenges.” This tagline represents the Bridge 2014 vision of calling upon change makers and thought leaders both in Silicon Valley and Iran. According to Kamran Elahian, Chairman and Co-Founder of Global Catalyst Partners, “We believe Silicon Valley and Iran’s thought leaders can empower aspiring young entrepreneurs that are striving to make a difference in this world.” “We envision this conference to be a precursor to future international events where highly accomplished executives will coach/mentor their aspiring counterparts from Iran.”

Conference participants will educate each other about the issues impacting high tech entrepreneurship in Iran, the prevailing conditions in the country that deviate from the “global innovation model,” and the steps that should be taken to reduce this gap. Bridge 2014 complies with sanctions and corresponding laws. According to Kamran Elahian, “During this gathering, these key influencers with diverse backgrounds will share their vision, experiences, and perspectives for creating a better world through the power of innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit. This conference explores the role of high tech in economic development: “where change is the catalyst and choice is unlimited”.

The issues that will be explored in this educational conference include: the attraction of venture capital, cultural attitudes towards entrepreneurs' failure, existence of innovation clusters, the ease of starting businesses, and the availability and accessibility of mentors and role models. According to Dariush Zahedi, Director of the Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East, “We will examine the circumstances under which high tech entrepreneurship and innovation can emerge as engines of inclusive growth, reducing the country’s dependence on extractive industries, expanding the size of its middle class, reversing the flight of capital, and promoting the circulation of the brain-drain.”

Bridge 2014’s activities are hosted and sponsored by UC Berkeley. More than thirty companies, non- profit organizations and community leaders have provided support and donations for this event. For the list of sponsors, please see:

About Bridge 2014

Bridge 2014 - “High Tech Entrepreneurship in Iran: Opportunities and Challenges" conference and additional activities, including subsequent conferences, research and publications are under the supervision/auspices of the UC Berkeley Program on Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East:

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