A new science park inaugurated by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Wednesday in the capital Ankara is the latest addition to Turkey's ambition to develop its own technologies instead of relying on imports. The Middle East Technical University (METU) Technocity Innovation Center will be a key actor for projects on the internet, and in cybersecurity, defense, education technologies and robotics.
It aims to export software worth $500 million per year and will employ some 1,500 experts.
It will host leading information and telecommunication technology companies as well as research and development centers for international firms. The Ministry of Industry and Technology contributed to its construction, which started in 2015. The science park covers an area of 33,500 square meters.
Science parks have flourished in Turkey, which wants to reduce its dependence on other countries for technology development, in the past decade. Currently, 81 science parks are available for companies and scientists in 54 cities, with 61 specializing in research and development and innovation. Science parks host more than 5,000 companies and employ over 42,000 people and have exported technology and goods worth $3.8 billion in over one decade. They are supported by the government, which allocated direct funds worth TL 984 million for infrastructure and incubation centers at the science parks.
The innovation center launched yesterday is part of larger METU Technocity, one of the first of its kind in the country when it was built in 2000. It hosts more than 380 companies and boasts creating about 7,000 technology projects since its inception.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, President Erdoğan touched upon "technological independence." "Turkey has to have the ability to act itself in developing technology in every field, from data security to defense, from health to education. If we can't do it, we'll have to hand over the helm to others. We need to develop our own technology to remain independent," he said. The president said universities had a major task in what he called Turkey's "national technology movement" and cooperation between universities and industry must be improved. "Science parks have a key role for this," he added.