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Turkey is a large, fast-growing, middle-income OECD economy. It has industrialised rapidly in recent years, although growth has slowed in the last two years. It has made significant strides in building up its STI capacities, and GERD grew by 8.2% annually over 2007-12. Currently, Turkey is in the process of deploying the National Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy (UBTYS) 2011-16, approved by the Supreme Council for Science and Technology (SCST).

Hot Issues

Hot Issues are major national STI policy priorities, as self-reported by countries in their responses to the OECD STIO 2014 policy questionnaire.

Targeting priority areas/sectors

Turkey’s National Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy (UBTYS) (2011-16) has a sectoral focus, with nine national priority sectors: automotive, machinery and manufacturing technologies, energy, ICT, water, food, defence, aerospace, and health. A high-level prioritisation meeting was established for each priority sector to determine technological needs through a consultative and consensus-building process. These were followed by studies to prepare technology roadmaps for sub-fields in these nine sectors. Since 2012, there were some 100 calls within the priority fields being launched through the call-based programme of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). Landmark projects, such as the domestic electric vehicles, are also part of Turkey’s target-oriented support system. As cross-cutting technologies, biotechnology and nanotechnology, as well as ICT software R&D and innovation strategy and action plans are being prepared by the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology (MoSIT), in support of the priority areas of UBTYS 2011-16.

Improving the design and implementation of STI policy

Turkey considers an ecosystem approach centred on the business sector and entrepreneurs crucial for a well-functioning innovation system. A policy-making approach based on the ecosystem concept has been in place since 2011. The high-level prioritisation groups, the Delphi surveys of experts in the sector concerned and the focus groups combine strategic and bottom-up initiatives and both qualitative and quantitative measures to set future sectoral priorities. Through this approach, there is broad and active participation by non-state actors. The Co-ordination Council for R&D, Innovation and Entrepreneurship aims to ensure the various public actors’ integrity, coherence and target-oriented approach to the support mechanism. A special department has been set up in MoSIT for assessing the impact of Turkey’s R&D and innovation support programme. TÜBİTAK has conducted an overall evaluation of the priority programmes from the supply-side perspective, using indicators to reveal strengths and weaknesses of different priority sectors. In 2014, MoSIT also published the Performance Index for Business Sector R&D Centres and Technoparks, which account for more than 60% of business R&D expenditure and employment.

Encouraging innovation in firms and supporting entrepreneurship and SMEs

Turkey’s BERD was 0.42% of GDP in 2012, well below the OECD median (Panel 1d). BERD has increasingly concentrated on knowledge services at the expense of high-technology manufacturing (Panel 2). According to the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, entrepreneurship conditions could be significantly improved. Support for entrepreneurship and SMEs is one of the priorities of the Supreme Council for Science and Technology, and several policy initiatives have been put in place. These include the development in 2012 of the Entrepreneurial and Innovative University Index to boost entrepreneurial and innovative activities in universities and to promote knowledge and technology transfer; the launch of several TÜBİTAK support programmes, such as the Venture Capital (Private Equity) Funding Programme (1514), the Individual Entrepreneurship (Phased) Support Programme (1512), the Individual Entrepreneurship Multi-Phased Co-Financing Programme (1512/B), and the Capacity Building for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Support Programme (1601), etc. MoSIT started the Technological Products Promotion and Marketing Programme in 2013 and the Technological Products Investment Support Programme in 2014. Both target firms that have previously received public/international R&D and innovation support.

Country Charts

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Selected Highlights

New challenges

The National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) 2011-23 is Turkey’s first green growth strategy. The goal of the Ministry of Energy is to reduce energy consumption by 20% per unit of GDP by 2023 (base 2011). The Technology Development Foundation of Turkey recently introduced a new Green Future Accelerator Fund with USD 10 million to step up the transfer of R&D results in green technology. Furthermore, under the coordination of TÜBİTAK, the Energy Efficiency Technology Roadmap was prepared, as one of the UBTYS’s (2011-16) priority areas.

Universities and public research

Turkey’s public research system is small (0.41% of GDP in 2012). It produces few international publications in top scholarly journals (Panel 1c) and has only one world-class university (Panel 1b). Public research is currently undergoing major reforms to improve its quality and relevance, to increase collaboration with the private sector, and to leverage private funding. Performance assessment has been reinforced in universities and PRIs, most notably based on a co-operation protocol signed between the Ministry of Development and TÜBİTAK to provide for the performance indicators, classification, and monitoring of current and future research centres. In 2013 TÜBİTAK introduced three new programmes to improve the efficiency of public research in universities. These include the Support Programme for Research, Technological Development and Innovation Projects in Priority Areas (1003), the Support Programme for Beginning Researchers (3001), and the Support Programme for National New Ideas and Products (1005). In addition, the Project Performance Award and the Incentive Programme for International Scientific Publications (UBYT) aim to reward successful projects and high-quality publications, respectively. In 2014, the SCST passed a new decree for a support programme that is open only to excellent research centres. MoSIT is preparing the University-Industry Cooperation Strategy and Action Plan, following 26 regional meetings of rectors, chambers of industry, researchers, SMEs and local stakeholders in 81 provinces during 2013.

Skills for innovation

Turkey has increased the number of full-time equivalent researchers three-fold since 2002 from a very low human resource base (Panel 1s, t, v, w). The National Science and Technology Human Resources Strategy and Action Plan (2011-16) aims to increase the contingent of R&D personnel, to foster a research culture, and to develop researchers’ skills, mobility and employability. The Turkish Qualifications Framework, which seeks to improve the quality of education and training and to develop the qualifications required by the labour market, will be officially adopted in the second half of 2014. In addition, implemented by TÜBİTAK, the National Graduate Scholarship Programme supported 5 054 PhD students between 2000 and 2013, with 3 366 supported in 2013 alone, while the National Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme supported over 300 researchers over 2000-13. Ten international fellowships or grant programmes support the international mobility of Turkish and foreign students and researchers.

Clusters and regional policies

Smart specialisation and clustering have recently attracted policy attention. Provincial innovation platforms were set up in 2010 to stimulate co-operation and turn local knowledge into economic and social benefits. In 2011, TÜBİTAK launched a competitive funding programme to set up regional innovation platforms and local co-operation networks. The Law on Technology Development Zones fosters the creation of technology parks through support for infrastructure and tax incentives for companies and their R&D personnel in the parks. As of 2014, 55 zones have been established and 40 are in operation, whose performance is being monitored by MoSIT based on the Performance Index for Technoparks.

Technology transfers and commercialisation

By OECD standards universities and PRIs file few patents as a share of GDP (Panel 1p). In 2012, some existing programmes were revised, and new programmes, including TÜBİTAK’s Technology Transfer Office Support Programme, were launched to facilitate the commercialisation of university R&D results and increase their impact on and benefit to society. The Patent Application Promotion and Support Programme, implemented by TÜBİTAK, was updated in 2013, in accordance with the needs of different stakeholders, to improve the quality and the quantity of patent applications.

Recent developments in STI expenditures

GERD grew significantly faster than the OECD average between 2007 and 2012. Business R&D spending recovered rapidly after the economic crisis. In 2012, GERD was 0.92% of GDP, and industry funded 46.8% of GERD (0.43% of GDP), up from 41% in 2009 (0.35% of GDP). The government is committed to sustained investment in STI and sets the targets for GERD and BERD at 3% and 2% of GDP, respectively, by 2023.