Turkey’s R&D outlays rise but still below target

R&D expenditures grew by 18.8 percent year-on-year in 2014 to reach a total of TL 17.6 billion, the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) said on Tuesday.

The government aims to push the R&D ratio to GDP up to 3 percent in 2023, the government’s target date for seeing Turkey among the top 10 economies of the world by GDP. The R&D investments totaled 0.59 percent of GDP in 2005.

Regarding the distribution of R&D expenditures, commercial entities have the largest share, with 49.8 percent. Universities accounted for 40.5 percent of spending on R&D, and the share going to public institutions was 9.7 percent. As for the financing of R&D projects, commercial enterprises were responsible for 50.9 percent of all R&D investments last year, while 26.3 percent were financed by the government and another 18.4 percent by universities. The remaining portion was financed by other national and foreign funds, TurkStat said.

While commercial enterprises made most of their R&D investments in the manufacturing industry, universities most often invested in medical sciences R&D. The government’s R&D investments were principally in industrial production and technology.

Geographically, the west Anatolia region, which includes the provinces of Ankara, Konya and Karaman, had the largest share of R&D investment.

Even though Turkey recorded an 18.8 percent increase in R&D investments last year, it was ranked among worst in terms of investment in R&D by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Turkish Confederation of Employers Associations (TİSK) said in a report in July.

Evaluating the OECD’s “Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2014” survey, TİSK said Turkey is among the five worst countries in the OECD in terms of R&D, innovation and the level of technology available in the country.

The government has played a limited role in encouraging the financing and direction of advancements in science, technology and industry, the TİSK report said, adding: “There is a vast gap between the current levels of R&D in science and technology and the national goals. Turkey is in need of a boost in this area.”