With this approach, innovation to remain on paper only
In recent days, we have often been hearing ministers say, “We’ll give importance to innovation and research and development in the upcoming period.” In fact, this was being discussed for a while now but not much of a progress has been made in these areas.
For example, in the area of research and development, there has been an increase in the share of funds allocated from the budget. If you ask whether this share is enough, it of course isn’t. Despite this, if you ask whether the increased R&D funds had a contribution, they of course did, but very little because the understanding of support is not rational. An R&D support system driven by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has been adopted, but as we sometimes see from the news, the projects which were suitable for Turkey’s scientific needs and were responded to globally were not in question. Of course, sometimes important and useful projects come up but in comparison to the distributed money, these are very little in number. On this point, the support given to acquaintances is always talked about as well as the fact that a follow-up is never done on whether these projects have been concluded or not. Now, together with the R&D, we talk about the innovation concept, but as long as there is the same understanding, it is not possible to receive a result. Just like the public resources allocated to innovation and technology development are very limited, the understanding is similarly wrong. In the biotechnology conferences that I have formerly attended, I remember my conversations with bureaucrats with whom I visited business incubation centers that have become the centers of innovations in the world. I saw that a centralized statist planning understanding is still dominant. When this is the case, the funds given to the acquaintances in liaison with bureaucrats and politicians come to the foreground, with enough support given to the deserving enterprises and startups being out of the question.
Education system in limbo
But everyone knows that for countries such as Turkey to shine out in global competition, they need to give importance to R&D, technology development, and innovation, and pave the way for new and young entrepreneurs as well as inventions in these areas.
Now, we are in the preparation phase of both the medium-term program and the 11th Development Programme. Those providing information regarding the topic say that they will on the one hand work for local production to move into areas with a high level of export and for the attention to be given to technology-focused investments, and on the other hand concentrate on R&D and innovation. The truth is that with the current understanding, the probability of success of plans made with centralized and political concerns in these areas is very low. This understanding should now change.
Abroad, country examples that are successful in the innovation and R&D are out in the open; they are both establishing big funds and building up efficient systems. Studies looking into how we can compete in the areas of innovation and technology development with the world show that the state’s job should be to create a climate that would pave the way for entrepreneurship. This means that instead of placing bureaucratic obstacles in front of the entrepreneurs, innovators, and startups, the state should clear their way so that success arrives to the country in these areas. Environments in which they will work freely should be established, funds should be provided, and the necessary inspection mechanisms should be established, meaning instead of public funds being managed with an understanding of centralization, distortion, and favoritism, modern systems should be established.
You will say that the education system is being dragged into mud and is getting worse gradually, asking where we are going to find the youth to make inventions in this climate from? You are right. It is very obvious that the education system should change from its foundation, and meet the modern scientific structure, otherwise Turkey will not progress further. It is a concrete fact that we are losing the current brilliant youth to other countries since we are further damaging the societal and scientific climate for them. But there should still be some things left to do, or we will be missing this train as well.