TÜBİTAK: Significant R&D and innovation progress in Turkey

Turkey has recently experienced significant progress in the science, technology and innovation fields thanks to the strategic approach that was adopted in recent years by the government, according to the “Turkish Science, Technology and Innovation System and Performance Indicators” document released by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).
Research and development (R&D) and innovation indicators confirm such progress. According to the TÜBİTAK document, R&D spending, which was at TL 2 billion in 1998, went up to TL 8.5 billion in 2009. This corresponds to a tripling in R&D spending between those years. Also, such an increase in the rate of R&D spending in Turkey is four times higher than the average R&D spending of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU) for the said years.

The ratio of R&D spending to Gross National Product (GNP) went up to 0.85 percent in 2009 from 0.37 in 1998 representing a more than two-fold increase. According to TÜBİTAK, such increase is an indicator that meeting the 2 percent target for said ratio by 2013 is achievable.

Another important finding for R&D funding in Turkey for the given period is that the private sector for the first time topped the public sector and in 2009 the private sector’s share of funding reached 41 percent. In 2009, the number of full-time equivalent R&D personnel reached 74,000 and for researchers it was 58,000. The “full-time equivalent” term refers to the total time dedicated by workers for R&D activities. Such numbers represent a three-fold increase in the number of people hired in the sector compared to 1998. The report notes that since the target number of full-time equivalent researchers to be hired in the field was exceeded in 2006, the 2013 target was revised to 150,000. The number of full-time equivalent R&D personnel for the private sector in 2009 was six times higher than it was 1998.

When it comes to scientific publications, which is another indicator of the level of science and technology for a country, the number of publications in 2009 was four times higher than in 1998, with over 25,000. The TÜBİTAK report states that with the increase in the number of such publications in 2004, Turkey located itself as the most dynamic country after South Korea among those trying to catch up with the US, EU, Japan and China.

The document also highlights the fact that the main goal of science, technology and innovation policies now is to encourage private sector innovation and private innovative entrepreneurship in Turkey. For this purpose, the current 40 percent share of the private sector’s R&D spending is expected to go up to 60 percent by 2013. In order to facilitate the technological innovation capacity, the competitiveness of firms and the innovation culture in the private sector, a variety of institutions in Turkey, including TÜBİTAK, have financial support programs, the document reads.
Ankara – Muhlis Kacar, TZ