In the first quarter of this year, Istanbul became the fourth most invested city in Europe after London, Paris and Berlin.
Erkam Tuzgen, Secretary General of Istanbul Development Agency (ISTKA), working under the coordination of the Ministry of Industry and Technology, said, “Istanbul became the fourth most invested city in Europe in the first quarter of this year, after London, Paris and Berlin. In game investments, it ranks first in Europe and the MENA region.”
Tuzgen answered his questions about the entrepreneurship ecosystem and financial support programs.
Reminding that as ISTKA, they made a total of 6 different calls in 2021, including 4 Financial Support Programs, 1 Feasibility Support and 1 Regional Enterprise Fund call, Tuzgen said, “We started to implement the projects that deserved support. As ISTKA, we are giving ₺276 million support to 158 projects in 2022. We also allocate ₺400 million to the Regional Venture Capital program for our technology and innovation-focused startups to have easy access to finance.”
Tuzgen stated that they have implemented various projects and activities to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Istanbul since the day they were established, and made the following assessments:
“We are carrying out extensive work to ensure that new business ideas are ready for commercialization, that our domestic technology companies open up to global markets, that cooperation between entrepreneurship ecosystem actors is increased, and that permanent collaborations are developed with national and international institutions and organizations. We continue to work on the GSER 2022 report of Startup Genome, to which our agency contributes with its data and expert opinions.
The details of this report, which focuses on the world’s leading entrepreneurship ecosystems, are planned to be announced to the public soon. In the new period, we are contributing to 12 projects with a budget of ₺13.4 million within the scope of our Entrepreneurship Financial Support Program. From the gaming industry to social enterprises; We support projects aimed at making Istanbul an international center of attraction for entrepreneurs, from health technologies to women entrepreneurs.”
Emphasizing that Turkey’s first mobile game and e-sports incubation center GamesUP was established with the support of ISTKA, Tuzgen said, “Entrepreneurs with business ideas will be able to develop their first games, and companies that need marketing and internationalization support will benefit from the acceleration program. Cybercube Project, the Cyber Security Acceleration and Incubation Program that we support for cyber security initiatives to achieve success in the global market, provides access to infrastructure, training, technical mentors and consultants.
With the Investor Acceleration Platform project, we aim to support startups in terms of internationalization, access to finance and establishing collaborations. With the Trade Acceleration Platform project for Istanbul Health SMEs and startups, we aim to facilitate the sales and marketing processes of health SMEs and startups in Istanbul. With the “International Entrepreneurship Center Istanbul” project, we aim to provide infrastructure, methodology, consultancy and mentoring services for international entrepreneurs to easily enter the market in Turkey.”
“We established Turkey’s first pavilion for Turkish technology entrepreneurs at CES 2022”
Tuzgen said that a contract was signed with 2 funds within the scope of the Regional Venture Capital Support Program, for which ₺400 million was allocated by İSTKA.
Emphasizing that with this support program, which will contribute to the development of regions and increase their competitiveness by contributing capital to companies with rapid growth potential, Tuzgen said that technology and innovation-based initiatives will access finance much more easily, and continued his words as follows:
“At the same time, we will make an important contribution to the vision of Istanbul to become a regional entrepreneurship center. We aim to create new unicorns and decacorns that encourage and inspire other entrepreneurs from our country with the support of these funds. On the other hand, we broke new ground this year in order to bring our technology entrepreneurs together with international markets.
We established Turkey’s first pavilion for Turkish technology entrepreneurs at CES 2022, the world’s largest consumer electronics fair, held on January 5-7, 2022 in Las Vegas, USA. At the Istanbul Pavilion, 28 startups from Turkey introduced their new products and technologies to the world for the first time. Among our startups that made customer and investor meetings in the USA, there were companies that made cooperation, dealership agreements, first sales-exports, and received distributorship offers.”
Supporting the digital transformation compliance processes of businesses
Tuzgen noted that with the Innovative Istanbul Financial Support Program, they have implemented 36 projects with a budget of ₺86.1 million in order to increase the competitiveness of the industry in Istanbul.
Explaining that businesses in Istanbul have put in place mechanisms that will increase their awareness of digital transformation and accelerate their compliance processes, Tuzgen said:
“We support projects that will increase the R&D and innovation capacity of our city, from smart city studies to the commercialization-oriented university-industry cooperation, from aluminum to the health sector. The Biocube Incubation Center, which we support for entrepreneurs working in the field of biotechnology, medicine and medical devices, will be put into service very soon.
We are bringing the Istanbul Leather OSB Test and Innovation Center to Istanbul, which will meet the R&D and training needs of the chemistry, leather and textile industry and increase its production capacity. We are also implementing the Istanbul Innovation and Technology Licensing Center project, which will enable SMEs to increase their competency in R&D and innovation, and to ensure commercialization-oriented university-industry cooperation. Work has also begun on the Personalized Medicine from Design to Product project, in which we will bring together researchers working in the field of health with innovative products and prototypes in a single center.
As an agency, we also support sustainable studies on green transformation. We are establishing the Istanbul Renewable Energy Production and Storage Technologies Research and Development Center, which will lead R&D studies in the field of efficient production and storage of renewable energy, within the body of Bogazici University in Istanbul. We are also establishing a new center in Istanbul that can carry out national and international testing and research activities on waste recycling. Recycling Test and Research Center will be operational within Yildiz Technical University.
Stating that Turkey’s startup ecosystem grew with an increasing momentum despite the epidemic last year, Tuzgen said, “The year 2022 has also started productively for our entrepreneurship ecosystem. In the first quarter of this year, Istanbul became the fourth most invested city in Europe after London, Paris and Berlin. According to StartupsWatch’s report, Istanbul ranks first in Europe and the MENA region in gaming investments. These data give us hope for the future of our entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
Stating that they have started the preparations for the 2024-2028 Istanbul Regional Plan, Tuzgen said, “We have also started preparations for the 2024-2028 Istanbul Regional Plan, which will reveal the socio-economic development trends, development potential, priority areas of intervention and sectoral targets of the Istanbul Region. We aim it to be a high-scale plan that also guides the strategic plans to be prepared by public institutions, especially local governments.”
Source: Trthaber / Translated by Irem Yildiz