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RIO Country Report Turkey 2015

RIO R&I International Country Reports analyse and assess the research and innovation system, main challenges, framework conditions, regional R&I systems, and international co-operation, including with the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (DG JRC).



1. Overview of the R&I system

Turkey has population of 77.695m, which would account for approximately 15% of the EU-28 population . By April 2015, the 2014 total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Turkey was estimated to be as €720,640m, which ranks the country 18th in the list of world economies. The GDP per capita in 2014 was €8,562.9.  It is approximately one third of EU-28 average which is €27,300 in 2014.

R&D intensity which shows the ratio of Gross Domestic Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) to GDP is 1.01% in 2014 while it is estimated to be 2.03% for EU-28. GERD increased in Turkey in 2014 compared to the previous year by 18.8%. 50.9% of total R&D expenditures was financed by business enterprises in 2014 while it was 48.9% in 2013.  This source of funding was followed by the government sector by 26.3%, the higher education sector by 18.4%, other national sources by 3.4% and by foreign funds by 1.1%. In 2014 the share of business enterprises sector in total R&D expenditure was 49.8%. This sector was followed by the higher education sector (40.5%) and public sector (9.7%).

2. Recent developments in research and innovation policy and systems

The National Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy (2011-2016) document, called as NSTIS (UBTYS) 2011-2016, is the most important element of the national R&I strategy. The vision of the strategy is defined as "to contribute to new knowledge and develop innovative technologies to improve the quality of life by transforming the former into products, processes, and services for the benefit of the country and humanity”.

In addition to UBTYS 2011-2016, various strategy documents are prepared:

- Science and Technology Human Resources Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2016

- National Energy R&D and Innovation Strategy: The vision of the strategy is to establish global competitiveness through the production of knowledge and innovative outputs using resources efficiently and productive and considering quality of environment and life.

- National Water R&D and Innovation Strategy: The vision of the strategy is to improve unique technologies and policies for the protection of water resources, productive and sustainable use of water resources, and the protection of access rights of all livelihoods to water.

- National Food R&D and Innovation Strategy: The vision of the strategy is to produce high value added, innovative and branding food products with environmental-friendly technologies.  

3. Public and private funding of R&I and expenditure

Total gross expenditure on R&D (GERD) of Turkey has increased more than 14 times from 2001 to 2014  reaching  €6,204.1m  in  2014  according to the Turkish Statistical Institute. In 2002-2014 period the rise in GERD in Euro terms is around 8.3 times. In the last three years (2012-2014) the rise in GERD is around 1.2 times in Euro terms. The rise in GERD per capita in Euro terms is 1.09 times in the same period. In 2014, GERD/GDP ratio for the first time has reached 1.01% in 2014. However, it is still far behind the EU15 average of 2.08. The ratio of BERD to GDP is far behind the EU average although it has been increasing in the last years.

The share of R&D performed by the business sector (45.1%) is for the first time higher than R&D performed by HEIs (%43,9) in 2012. This trend is persistent in 2013 and 2014. İn EU-28 countries,63% of the R&D is performed by business enterprise sector while proportion is 47.5% for Turkey. In 2014, 50.9% of R&D expenditures were financed by business enterprises,26.3% by the government,18.4% by higher education sector, 3,4% by other national sources and 1,1% by foreign funds.

For the GBAORD data, a slight decrease is observed in 2014 yet it is planned to be recovered in 2015. In 2008-2014 period GBAORD increased by 75% in Euro terms.


4. Quality of science base and priorities of the European Research Area

Among 34 countries' data on quality of the science base provided by JRC IPTS, Turkey has the lowest figures and shares except for percentage of publications in the 10% most cited publications. Based on the information provided by the European Innovation Scoreboard 2016, for the number of new doctorate graduates per thousand population between 25-34 ages, Turkey has the lowest figure among 36 countries with 0.4 while the EU average is given by 1.8. For international scientific co-publication per million population, Turkey has one of the lowest figures with 81.8, following Ukraine. Turkey also in the lowest proportion in scientific publiscations in the top 10% most cited publications. Figures show that Turkey has weak public-private linkages, and the collaboration between business sector researchers and public sector researchers is insufficient. Moreover, the employment in knowledge-intensive activities just 5.7% of the total employment, wheras it is 13.9% for EU-28.

5. Framework conditions for R&I and science-business cooperation

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 of the World Economic Forum, Turkey is in the stage of transition from efficiency-driven economy to innovation-driven economy. In the Global Competitiveness index, Turkey ranks as 51st out of 140 economies and dropped six places as compared to 2014-2015 rankings and eight places as compared to 2012-2013 rankings. This result has been driven by a general decline in almost all factors driving competitiveness, with 10 out of 12 pillars registering a lower score than in 2014-2015. The assessment of institutions experiences the most severe drop, falling to 75th place.

6. Conclusions

According to the European Innovation Scoreboard 2016 Turkey is a Moderate Innovator. Innovation performance has been improving at a slow but steady rate between 2008 and 2014, and for 2015 a sharp increase can be observed. Turkey is catching up to the EU; its relative performance has improved from 38% in 2008 to 39% in 2014 and then jumped to 51% in 2015 turning the country from a Modest into a Moderate Innovator.

The following R&I challenges have been identified for Turkey:

- Promoting research commercialisation from universities: This can take place in various forms, such as  university  start-ups  and  spin-offs,  mobility  of  researchers  and  students,  contract  research projects,  joint research projects, innovative public procurement, licensing, consulting, trainings, formal and informal networks, competitiveness clusters etc.

- Increasing the number of innovative high-growth start-ups: The underdeveloped venture capital and business  angels markets, together with the limited number and variety of policy measures for start-up creation, are crucial barriers for the establishment and development of innovative businesses in Turkey.

- Increasing R&D and innovation capabilities of the private sector: The  low  levels  of  absorptive  capacity  of  the  business  sector, particularly that  of  MSMEs, is a barrier to increase R&D and innovation performance.

- Focusing   on   strategic   approach   on   access   to   finance:   According   to   the   Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 of the World Economic Forum, `venture capital availability` has one of the worst ranking indicators (93rd) in Turkey.

- Increasing availability and quality of research personnel: Turkey has a very  low share  of  knowledge-intensive  activities,  partly  explained  by  the  importance  of employment in the agriculture, construction and tourism sectors.

Geo coverage
Report year
Official publication date
Thursday, 19 January, 2017
Country Report file
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