Turkish startups take global stage at return of tech mega conference

From robotics and artificial intelligence to education and virtual and augmented reality platforms, 27 Turkish tech startups backed by Istanbul Development Agency will take the stage at the tech industry’s mass gathering, the Consumer Electronics Show, next week

Having seen the birth of its first unicorn – a term for startups that pass the $1 billion mark – at the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Turkish startup ecosystem is now being watched much more closely at major global events.

One of these is just days away. Serving as an annual mass showcase of new trends and gadgets in the tech industry, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2022 is due to be held from Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas to discuss emerging technologies.

The world’s largest consumer electronics show will also host one of the largest gatherings of the startup ecosystem at Eureka Park, the main exhibition space for ventures from around the world.

Some 27 startups from Turkey will take the stage and showcase their innovations at the popular four-day gathering with the support of the Istanbul Development Agency (ISTKA).

The startups will exhibit their latest products and technologies at the pavilion that will be set up for the first time at CES by ISTKA, which works under the coordination of the Industry and Technology Ministry.

Held every January in Las Vegas, the event next week will also mark CES’s grand return to the physical world after being canceled in person and held entirely online in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, CES was the largest annual show in Las Vegas and in 2020 drew about 170,000 attendees with about 4,000 companies exhibiting their technology and gadgets.

The organizer Consumer Technology Association (CTA) earlier said it expected around 75,000 attendees at the 2022 edition, but the recent rapid spread of the new coronavirus variant omicron has led some individuals and companies to rethink their in-person attendance as they look to lessen the risk of contracting the virus.

CES is expected to have more than 2,100 companies from around 159 countries in person.The coronavirus-related travel restrictions are likely to keep some companies and crowds at bay.

Several companies, including Facebook parent Meta Platforms, Twitter, Lenovo Group, AT&T and Amazon have recently dropped their in-person attendance plans, saying they would not send employees out of caution over the spread of omicron.

United States automaker General Motors, Alphabet’s Google and its self-driving auto-technology company Waymo also joined the companies no longer attending in person due to rising COVID-19 infections.

CES officials said the event will still be held in person with “strong safety measures in place,” including vaccination requirements, mandatory masks and availability of COVID-19 tests.

“Our mission remains to convene the industry and give those who cannot attend in person the ability to experience the magic of CES digitally,” CES said in a statement earlier in December. “CES 2022 will go forward as an important innovation for world health and safety, mobility and solving problems will be exhibited.”

Istanbul Pavilion

The tech startups that will represent Turkey at the Istanbul Pavilion will exhibit a range of innovations from a portable breath analyzer, technology for an educational platform that offers robotics, data science and artificial intelligence coding, to an initiative that helps identify companies and e-commerce sites that sell fake items, as well as a venture that aims to integrate gaming enthusiasts in single virtual reality universe.

For the first time at a pavilion exclusive to Turkey, startups will have the opportunity to showcase their products and technologies produced in Turkey to the whole world and to hold customer and investor talks.

Gaming studio city

The sale of Peak Games, an Istanbul-based company and Turkey’s first unicorn, for $1.8 billion in June of 2020 created a stir in the industry and inspired developers and the establishment of gaming studios.

This high interest from investors resulted in many new studios being set up for new game startups in Istanbul and Anatolia. It prompted Turkey’s metropolis Istanbul to become the second-largest city in Europe after London in terms of the gaming studio clusters.

Startups with global potential

Cooperating with incubation and entrepreneurship centers, technoparks and acceleration programs, ISTKA has undertaken an in-depth evaluation regarding the selection of startups that will take place at CES 2022.

It aimed to opt for startups that carry a greater chance of achieving global success.

Identifying startup candidates that meet the CES Eureka Park requirements, ISTKA chose startups with innovative product development that would be of maximum benefit when attracting customers and investments.

The participation at the event aims to ensure the promotion of the entrepreneurial opportunities and potential of Istanbul at a global level, in addition to benefiting Turkey’s startups to progress towards becoming global brands that make technology exports.


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