The government spent slightly less on research and development (R&D) last year compared with the previous year, according to a report released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) yesterday. Allocation to R&D fell 3.73 percent to $2 billion, the report said. The amount was 0.32 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), a decline from 0.37 percent in 2012. It amounted to 1.12 percent of the government budget expenditure last year, down from 1.28 percent in the previous year. But total spending, including that of the private sector, in R&D in the country increased by 13.4 percent reaching TL 14.8 billion ($6.6 billion) in 2013 compared with the previous year. Total R&D spending constituted 0.95 percent of Turkey's GDP in 2013, up from 0.92 percent in 2012. The report said that initial budget appropriations have been allocated for $2.15 billion to R&D for the 2015 budgetary year. The total amount of indirect R&D support, including tax incentives, exemptions, reductions in R&D workers' taxes and social security contributions, was $500 million last year.
"The amount of resources allocated to R&D does not have any absolute value," Mehmet Bayındır, director of National Nanatechnology Research Center (UNAM) at Bilkent University, said. "What is important is how effectively these resources are used. Unfortunately, a significant portion of R&D investment in Turkey is wasted. ... In order to increase growth, Turkey should reconsider its research and development policy without losing time. Even increasing it to 5 percent of the country's GDP, in the current ecosystem, will not have any positive effect on R&D," Bayındır said. The government accounted for 26.6 percent of total R&D spending in 2013, up from 21.1 percent in 2012. Companies had the largest share of R&D spending, with 48.9 percent last year, up from 46.8 percent in 2012. Turkey has a goal of reaching $500 billion in exports by 2023, the centennial year of the founding of the modern Turkish Republic. "It is, however, not possible for Turkey to reach its huge economic goals in 2023 without increasing R&D activity for more value-added production," Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci warned.