REACHING THE STARS

While it has gained ground in recent years, Turkey's transformation has been a long time coming, thanks to a unique mix of cultural, economic and even governmental elements that somehow all add up. Turkey is a large, fastgrowing, middle-income OECD economy. It has industrialised rapidly in recent years. It has made significant strides in building up its STI(Science  Technology and Innovation) capacities and R&D(Research and Development) growth. As the buildup of Turkey's innovation culture comes to fruition, it's not hard to imagine a bright future for this Middle Eastern innovation hub. Most  indicators in Turkey are pointing up and to the right: institutional capital is growing, education is only becoming more important and a mixture of EasternWestern geography has begun to propel Turkey's innovations to new parts of the world. Plus, as a physical bridge between the newly developing tech scene in Asia and the veteran inventions of Europe and North America, inspiration, leadership and expansion potential are well within reach.

As a country at the crossroads of history and future - and east and West - Turkey is proving to be the startup hub to watch in the Middle East for years to come. Recognizing the key role of innovation as the engine of  economic growth, Global Innovation Index, adopts an inclusive and a horizontal vision of innovation by giving necessary emphasize to local Dynamics of innovation and compares 142 countries all over the World. Gözde Nur Kazazoğlu in the book she published 2016 (National Innovation Efficiency During the Global Crisis: A Cross-Country Analysis)  underlines the importance of Global Innovation Index. She says Global Innovation Index (GII), over the last six years, evolved into a valuable ranking by including necessary and influencing indicators for the local and global innovation efficiency. Covering 94.9% of the population and 98.7% of the world's Gross Domestic Product (GDP in Dollars), GII is composed of two sub-indices called the Innovation Input Sub-Index and the Innovation Output Sub-Index.

The Innovation Input SubIndex covers five key pillars as the catalyzers;

1. Institutions

2. Human Capital and Research

3. Infrastructure

4. Market Sophistication

5. Business Sophistication.

Turkey's Global Innovation Index ranking was 58 in 2015, this year all at once increased 16 rows, was ranked 42nd with 39.03 points. Global Innovation Index report which is announced every year has been declared, in cooperation with Cornell University, INSEAD (The Business School for the World), World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in August.. Turkey is ranked fourth among middle-income countries in Global Innovation Index ranking. China which is participated in among top 25 innovative countries this year is placed on the top. EU member Bulgaria is second. Third country is United Arab Emirates and then there is Turkey. In this rank, Turkey takes place as a country of North African and West Asian. From the perpective of this region, Turkey is fourth in top innovative countries. In the top three, Israel, Cyprus and United Arab Emirates (UAE) are takin place in this region.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT TO INNOVATION

Turkey has introduced new legislative incentive and support mechanisms for research and development activities, as well as extending existing mechanisms. The changes are intended to support technology and innovation companies, enhance university-industry cooperation, as well as increase R&D human resources capacities. The Amendment to the Law on Supporting Research and Development Activities and Other Laws (“Amendment Law”) was published in Official Gazette number 29636 on 26 February 2015, entering into effect on 1 March 2016. The R&D Reform Package aims to increase the competitiveness of vital industries, strengthen university-industry cooperation and increase R&D spending.

Among the key elements of the package are: -The establishment of design centers that will benefit from the same level of incentives as R&D centers. Design

-related activities conducted in technology development zones (TDZs) are also to be supported,

-Tax deductions for companies engaged in R&D and design, including SMEs that contract such services to outside parties, 

-A reduced staff requirement to establish an R&D center to 15 persons from 30, -The state will underwrite a portion

– equaling the gross total of the minimum wage in Turkey

– of researchers' wages for a duration of two years, provided they are employed by an R&D center and are graduates of basic sciences,

-Tax deduction and grants for pre-competition cooperation projects in order to encourage joint projects,

-Customs duty exemptions for materials obtained from abroad within the scope of R&D,

- Innovation and design projects,

-The establishment of specialized TDZs for priority and strategic sectors (ICT, healthcare, biotech, nanotech, defense and aerospace, etc.) in order to form focused R&D organizations,

-Researchers employed in TDZs, R&D centers and design centers will benefit from exemptions during site studies and postgraduate educational activities abroad,

-Tax deductions for companies who provide venture capital for start-ups established using the TechnoInitiative Capital Support Program in TDZs,

-Increasing the sum of techno-initiative capital support to  $150,000 from $30,000, depending on the project while extending the application period to 10 years from the date of the founder's graduation,

-Creating a system of standardization and authorization for software projects,

-Exemption from income tax cuts for faculty members who take part in universityindustry cooperation projects.

The income tax cut from the university's floating capital is limited to 15% with the remaining 85% payable to the faculty member. Also in May 2016 The Turkish Growth and Innovation Fund, established by European Investment Fund (EIF), Undersecretariat of Treasury, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Organization of Turkey (KOSGEB) and the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) to support innovative and technology oriented businesses with a rapid growth potential has been officially launched.
 

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