Turkish R and D sector makes no headway in 2013

The share of funds drawn from Turkey’s gross domestic product (GDP) for R and D investment remained the same in 2013 as in the previous year, data show, revealing only little progress in new investments.

Turkey was expecting to increase the R and D share of GDP to 1 percent in 2013, a critical benchmark according to observers. The share of funds drawn from Turkey’s GDP for R and D was 0.92 percent in 2012 and 0.86 percent in 2011.

The Global Innovation Index 2013, co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) — an agency of the United Nations — reveals Turkey was the 68th most innovative country in 2013 among 142 countries listed. The report places Switzerland at the top of the ranking.

According to separate data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat), Turkey spent $11.1 billion on R and D investments in 2013 and the R and D investment size per capita was $166, underperforming most emerging market peers. The country intensified R and D investments in private industry and high education fields in 2013, the TurkStat data show.

Switzerland, at the top of the Global Innovation Index’s most innovative countries list, spent the same amount in the first three months of 2013 alone. The Swiss R and D investments share in GDP was 2.9 percent.

With a focus of allocating more funding to R and D, the Turkish government is planning to reach a 3 percent contribution of GDP by 2023. Figures, however, reveal Turkey is still very far from realizing its ambitious 2023 targets in this field. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier announced that the government estimates that 3 percent of GDP will amount to $60 billion in 2023. The government aims to boost interest in R and D incentives to help decrease Turkey’s dependency on foreign sources in the field of advanced technology. Lack of enough government incentives to companies planning to invest in the development of new technologies, however, remains an obstacle here.

“In emerging markets, pockets of wealth have developed around industrial or technological clusters and networks, in sharp contrast to the poverty that may prevail in the rest of the territory,” the Global Innovation Index 2013 report read.

The failure to encourage more companies to enter cutthroat competition with innovative products in global markets also dents the competitive power of Turkish private and public industries as a whole. The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report (GCR) 2013-2014, published in September of last year, ranks Turkey the 44th most competitive market among 148 world economies. Turkey fell one ranking in the list over a year ago, the report showed.