Two Turks going global

Two Turks going global

Turkish people who live within Turkey are focused on potential problems between the president and the prime minister, which dominates the news. 

However, the focus of Turks outside of Turkey is on what they do best - and two of them are doing particularly well. 

I am proud to say that both come from my alumni, Robert College, and one is my former classmate, Güvenç Özel.

Architect and artist Güvenç Özel, a lecturer in UCLA’s Department of Architecture and Urban Design, has been awarded fourth prize in NASA’s 3-D Printed Habitat Challenge. The competition called for architectural concepts for a four-astronaut settlement on Mars that could be 3-D printed through the use of resources indigenous to the Red Planet. NASA received more than 165 entries in the competition, which is ultimately aimed at contributing towards the development of new technologies for additive manufacturing using “local indigenous materials” in space and on earth. 

Güvenç was always a curious person at his core and has been very creative from his childhood. Before his NASA success, he made it into the news with his design of a room with walls that react to brainwaves. 

The second person who I would like mention today is Osman Kibar, known as the founder of “God’s Pill.” He is one of the owners of Samumed, a multibillion-dollar bio-tech company. He made it onto the cover of Forbes magazine last month. He achieved his success with his friends Arman Oruç, Yusuf Yazıcı and Cevdet Samikoğlu, without whose help the endeavor would not have reached where it is today. 

You may say I might be too early to applaud, reminding of the Therenos case. But Forbes said it is quite clear that Samumed is not a new Theranos. The latter company had a business plan that was hard to grasp. How could a disruptor that was going to defeat diagnostics giants LabCorp and Quest by making diagnostic tests cheaper, thereby shrinking the market, be worth as much as LabCorp and Quest? What’s more, despite what Theranos says, it appears to have launched its testing technology into wider use before it was ready, potentially putting patients at risk.

Samumed is doing no such thing. Its medicines will reach the market, through the Food & Drug Administration only after they have proved their effectiveness. If its investors are willing to play the long game and wait for a megahit, then good for them. We will see the big trials of Samumed’s first drugs over the next year and a half.

All the time that I was thinking and writing about this article, I kept wondering how many more Güvenç Özel’s and Osman Kibar’s Turkey could generate if not for the dominant political climate in the country, which is holding so many people down. 

I wish for days when Turkish people who live in Turkey can do just as well globally as Turkish people who live abroad.