Turkey is losing ground on innovation

Turkey is losing ground on innovation

A news story that interests us all very closely has not received enough attention.

Turkey ranked 50 among 126 countries in the Global Innovation Index announced last week.

Turkey ranked 43 in last year’s index. The fact that Turkey went down in the list and keeps losing ground on the issue of innovation is a very serious situation. At a time when the world is talking about industry 0.4, Turkey cannot show a serious presence in the innovation area.

The Global Innovation Index (GII) is copublished by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and INSEAD, one of the world’s biggest graduate business schools and Cornell University in the United States. GII relies on 80 indicators that capture elements of the national economy that enable innovative activities, such as human capital and research, market sophistication, and business sophistication.

The GII is dedicated to different themes each year. The GII 2017 theme was dedicated to innovation in agriculture and food systems. The theme of this year’s index was energizing the world with innovation; in other words, to supply the increasing global demand for energy with climate friendly, innovative, green technology.

The question that comes to mind seeing that Turkey has ranked 50 among 126 countries and keeps going down the list is this:

Is the country’s investment on Research and Development (R&D) insufficient?

Turkey did not even spend half of Amazon’s R&D budget in 2017, claimed a news article that I have recently come across. While Amazon spent $22.6 million for Rand D in 2017, Turkey earmarked $2.8 billion from its central administrative budget.

According to the inputs of the Turkish Statistical Institute, the Turkish public and private sector spent $8.1 billion (24,641,000 Turkish Liras) for R&D.

Some 12,950,000 liras have been earmarked initially in the 2018 central administration budget.

To compare it with Switzerland that tops the GII list, two thirds of R&D spending are made by the private sector and amount to 16 billion Swiss francs.

The good news on the index

On the other hand, there is one piece of good news about Turkey on the part of the GII where it underlines the strengths of some countries. Turkey appears under the creative output headline with “industrial design.” That means Turkey has registered some progress in industrial design without really being aware of it.

The article by Fatma Aydın Taylor from Yaşar University, named the “Effects of globalization in the development of industrial design in Turkey” explains this progress.

Published in 2014, the article says the regulations undertaken in the framework of European Union membership programs have led to some improvements in the area of industrial design.

Taylor emphasized that some in the sector who have wanted to gain prominence in the international arena, such as those in furniture, medical materials, and glass household materials have received advice on industrial design.

Let me at least end on another positive note: Istanbul was chosen as a design city by UNESCO in 2017.

Gila Benmayor, innovation, R&D