NEW YORK CITY—During his 2 years in office, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has filled his cabinet with Ph.D.-trained technocrats. One of the youngest is Sorena Sattari, the vice president for science and technology. A mechanical engineer by training, Sattari, 43, has been a forceful proponent of yoking science more tightly to the economy and says he would like to imbue Iran with an “entrepreneurial spirit.” His Innovation and Prosperity Fund has handed out $600 million in low-interest loans to 1650 technology startups and to other firms seeking to branch out in new directions.
He has not turned his back on basic research, however. He cites as “a point of pride” for his country the $30 million Iranian National Observatory, a world-class, 3.4-meter optical telescope that is expected to see first light in 4 or 5 years. Backers credit him with helping get the long-delayed project back on track earlier this year (Science, 4 September, p. 1042). Sattari spoke with Science last week on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.