Creating information for tomorrow

R&D and innovation culture is on the way to becoming the most vital part of the Turkish economy. Research centers, particularly those within universities, are working to fulfill this vision.

Turkey aims to raise its R&D expenses to the level of developed countries, and it is already close to the psychological one percent level. The 2014 Research and Development Activities Survey by the Turkish Statistical Institute puts R&D spending at 17.6 billion Turkish lira, representing an 18.8 percent increase yearon- year. Universities are among the most active organizations in this regard. Hence, Turkey ranks near the top in the rise in the number of scientific publications. There are more than 400 R&D centers in Turkey. These have reached the level of developed countries in terms of infrastructure. In the past decade, total R&D investment exceeded 1.5 billion Turkish lira. Thematic research projects alone have a budget of 2-3 million Turkish lira. The State Planning Organization of Turkey inspires to close Turkey’s gap in workforce and inefficiencies in many areas among the thematic advanced research centers that are supported within the scope of the 2003- 2014 investment programs. Universities are taking the lead in this area. Those that stand out are Ankara University, METU, ITU, Sabancı University, Koç University, and Istanbul Aydın University.

Bright people choose Turkey

The Biotechnology Institute of Ankara University is creating new products by using biotechnology, developing service and diagnosis technologies, and performing fundamental research work that will help develop a university-based biotechnology industry. Forty researchers are working at the center, which cost 60 million Turkish lira. The Microelectromechanical Systems Research and Application Center of METU (METU MEMS) was established to promote collaboration between the industry and universities on MEMS. The METU BILTIR Non-destructive Collision Test Laboratory was founded with the objective of performing vehicle safety tests to achieve zero fatality in traffic accidents, and providing testing and engineering services for R&D operations of the automotive and supplier industries. Opened in 2009, the center received funding of 9.5 million Turkish lira. Student projects help young and dynamic brain power to stand on its own feet in entrepreneurship, and to rise to a level so as to contribute to the country’s economy. ITU is one of the most active universities in this regard. Mehmet Sabri Çelik, Vice Chancellor of ITU, explained their work as follows: “Our university has grown into a science, industry, and technology hub with nearly 200 R&D projects carried out at ITU ARI Teknokent. In the last three years, the number of academics rose to 225, up from 25 at the start of the initiative.”

University and industry collaboration

ITU is an authority on university/industry collaboration. It is in diverse collaboration with many different organizations. The Air Transport Management Master’s Degree program, a first in Turkey’s education field, was introduced with trademark organizations such Turkish Airlines and Boeing. The university will continue to become prominent in value added projects in the future. Turkey’s first “Center of Excellence in Engineering Education” was established within ITU. Dubbed ME2M, the center trains new generations of engineers and leaders. The goal is to transform engineering education in a way to meet the expectations of the 21st century. More collaboration projects from Istanbul Aydın University The university plans to develop projects in the energy, food, nano- material technologies, defense, and industry areas. Mustafa Aydın, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Istanbul Aydın University, said, “The university offers entrepreneurship classes to give students techno-entrepreneurship support. It also aspires to obtain a utility model for original projects. To date, seven utility models have been received.”