Do teknoparks deliver what they promise?
The Teknopark system in Turkey had been designed to support the technology producers as much as possible. Some of the major companies, as well as startups, find it very useful to be in a Teknopark because the system provides amazing benefits. You don’t have to pay high social security taxes and there are incentives on corporation tax too. So moneywise it makes a lot of sense to be in a teknopark in Turkey. However since they are aimed at technology production there should be other benefits too.
According to the definition of the Technology Development Zones Law (No:4691), validated in 2001, the term Teknopark shall refer to a site where academic, economic and social structures become integrated. A teknopark is also defined as having the following characteristics: an area where, by benefiting from the opportunities of a particular university or higher technology institute or R&D center or institute, companies using advanced technology or companies that aim at new technologies develop technology or software, where companies work to transform a technological invention into a commercial product, method or service, thus contributing to the development of the zone, which is on the premises of, or close to, the same university, higher technological institute or the R&D center or institute.
The teknoparks are all in university campuses in Turkey. There are a few of them being built on other grounds too but almost all of the firms who take advantage of the afore-mentioned law are near university campuses. The universities claim that they are doing the best to support these companies. However, when we talk to the owners of the firms they tell a different story. They had been complaining that they could not get enough support for R&D. The usual complaint is the mismatch between the curriculum that universities pursue and the needs of the firms. This is a huge gap where nothing had been done for the last ten years. There are some professors who are doing their best but still the Turkish students are not being taught in line with what the industry wants.
The second major complaint is about the high rents and the quality of the buildings. The firm owners say that the universities consider them as cash cows forcing higher than normal rents. Furthermore, people had always complained about the quality and the design of the buildings.
We are taking the best technologists and putting them into the most boring and badly-constructed buildings imaginable and asking them to be innovative.
The last incidence in which a building collapsed in Yıldız Teknopark is a testament to this statement. Unfortunately, on Wednesday morning a building collapsed partly injuring some engineers.
We need to think about the teknoparks from A to Z.