A most successful NGO

A most successful NGO

One of the puzzling things about the Turkish ICT industry is the number of nongovernmental organizations in the field.

There are probably around 35 NGOs working on various fields in the ICT world. I believe that it is much more than any industry with similar revenues. That’s why for years it was nearly impossible to get these NGOs to conduct joint action and achieve solid results. 

The Turkish Informatics Foundation (TBV) led by Faruk Eczacıbaşı and managed by the industry veteran Behçet Envarlı not only brought NGOs together once a month, they also managed to get results. Much of the new ICT legislation was seeded in the monthly NGO gatherings. 

The TBV had always been the most respected NGO in the ICT world but was criticized for not being involved in global matters. It was seen as a more intellectual endeavor. In the last five years, it has successfully shifted to become a political player and a doer. Of course, it just didn’t happen over night. 

The Bilgi Çağı project – www.bilgicagi.com – was the first sign of increasing involvement with policy-makers. I am very proud to be one of the people who have been part of the project from the get-go. It started out as a watchdog project but has become one the most frequently visited ICT news sources in Turkey. Faruk Eczacıbaşı gathered a distinguished group of board members in the beginning, and Leyla Arsan of TAGES was the lead member. The group, together with the publisher and entrepreneur Cem Tecimen, created a unique publication about ICT and innovation by transforming Tecimen’s Bilgi Çağı magazine, which was focused more on telecommunications. 

In the meantime, TBV, together with Leyla Arsan, successfully implemented various different projects. 
The most recent one is the Istanbul Information Society Watchdog Group.

The main objective of this project is to ensure democratization in R&D and progress in the establishment of innovation policy, which will increase competitiveness in the ICT sector to support the appropriation of the EU acquis and, in this way, contribute to the socioeconomic development of Istanbul in cooperation with NGOs, universities and public authorizations. In this respect, the TBV will establish an Information Society Watchdog Group to analyze the ICT sector in Istanbul, define the added value of ICT for Istanbul and how this value can be increased. This group, which will include key persons from NGOs, the private sector and universities, and collaborate with public institutions, will be a role model in Istanbul.

Last week the foundation announced that by the end of 2013, an ICT Institute would be established in Galata. The roadmap and the building are ready, while renovations and human resources issues will be dealt with by 2014. It will be the first of its kind. It is going to be a place where the industry can come together with researchers and individuals, boosting open innovation. 

Over the years, the TBV has become the most successful NGO in the ICT world. I hope that they won’t slow down because there is much more to do.