Teknofest, which will kick off on Thursday in southeastern Gaziantep province this year, will continue in its full glamor even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said on Wednesday. Varank added that this year has seen even more participation compared to 2019 in the competitions held within the scope of the tech show.
“We have witnessed the excitement in many different parts of Turkey,” Varank said Wednesday regarding the Turkish youths’ participation in Teknofest, Turkey’s premier tech show.
Saying that the demand is high for Teknofest, both from Turkey and abroad, Varank added that the tech show will host competitions in 21 categories covering unmanned aerial vehicles to rockets, education, agricultural technologies, model satellites and more.
The minister also stated that the tech show has registered competitors from all 81 of Turkey's provinces and 84 other countries. Varank also added that 20,197 teams and over 100,000 youngsters will participate in the competitions.
“Being nominated in the competitions has become a very important sign of success. Over TL 3 million ($390,000) and other prizes will be awarded to participants,” he said.
“Of course, Teknofest is affected by the pandemic to a degree. We were expecting to break records in terms of visitors, but this will not be possible considering the circumstances this year. As part of precautions, we will not be able to carry out some activities like aerial exhibitions,” he said, adding that Teknofest is normally a very comprehensive event including competitions, seminars, aerial shows and exhibitions of domestically produced inventions.
The four-day event will include a host of activities, such as air shows with warplanes and helicopters, seminars and summits, and competitions and fairs.
This year's third edition of the festival will feature technology competitions in nearly two dozen different categories – such as biotechnology innovation, agriculture, environment and energy, transportation, education, helicopter design and jet engine design.
Varank also added that the festivities will continue until the last day of Teknofest.
“We are going to live stream the events as they happen through our social media channels,” Varank said, adding that the organizers want as many people as possible to experience the excitement, despite the pandemic.
“God willing we will experience this enthusiasm next year all together,” he said.
'COVID-19 has not killed enthusiasm'
“There have been a series of precautions taken against the COVID-19 pandemic, such as online training. Even in the face of this pandemic, I can easily say that there has not been a decrease in the enthusiasm of our participants. I believe this interest is proof that our youth believes in and loves our National Technology Initiative and Teknofest,” Varank added.
The minister also added that having a common goal to improve the country’s technological advancements and to create awareness in the field is extremely important.
“Teknofest is an organization set up to achieve that,” he said.
“There's no reason why our country cannot produce the best technological products and spread them all around the world. I am very hopeful about our youth's potential,” Varank added.
Interest from all walks of life
The minister also added that the longing for Turkey’s technological achievements is based on the fact that the tech show draws interest from all walks of life.
“This is the product of a collective effort. All ministries that take part, all governmental institutions, all universities make efforts to realize this event. That’s why we are hosting one of the biggest organizations in the world,” he said.
'Invest in youth'
The minister also urged the private sector to invest in and to take advantage of visionary, energetic youngsters.
“Youngsters do amazing things both on land and in the air. All phases of projects, including the idea, building, development, gathering of materials, setting up of the team and so on are carried out in a collective manner. I’ve been very impressed by their will when I visited the teams. It is well known that many technology giants have been founded in garages. Likewise, our tech giants will emerge from the ateliers of our universities and high schools,” Varank said.
Last year, the second edition of the festival was organized in Istanbul Atatürk Airport, which was visited by over 1.7 million people.
Teknofest is held in various Turkish cities in even years and in the metropolis of Istanbul in odd years.
Fatma Şahin, mayor of Gaziantep, said Teknofest provides a paradigm for the Turkish youth and the country's national and indigenous industrial infrastructure.
"We are in the age of information and technology, the knowledge-based economy is very important and our greatest strength is our human capital," she added.
The annual event was scheduled for April but was postponed due to the pandemic.
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