A model for university and industry cooperation
There is a practice that the head of the Executive Committee of Sabancı Holding, Güler Sabancı, has not given up for the past couple of years.
She meets with students who continue their postgraduate studies at the prestigious Harvard University after completing their graduate or postgraduate studies at Sabancı University, where she is also the head of the Board of Trustees.
When I accompanied Güler Sabancı for this year’s meeting with a group of journalist friends, I had the opportunity to meet bright brains from Harvard.
The graduates of Sabancı University have big dreams. One works on a new generation of cardiac pacemakers, another is pursuing a new search engine.
Sabancı University was chosen a few months ago as the “most entrepreneurial and the most innovative” university in Turkey by a survey conducted by the Science, Industry and Technology Ministry. I asked the other day the president of Sabancı University, Professor Nihat Berker, how they were able to create such a motivating atmosphere for their students.
Professor Berker, who has been the president of the university since 2009, said 175 academics were currently working on 200 projects, the budget of which totaled 55.3 million Turkish Liras.
Out of this total, 44 percent of the budget was met by the Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), 21 percent by the European Union and 26 percent by the private sector.
Here, the last support, in other words the portion of 26 percent, is very important because it demonstrates that university-industry cooperation is going well.
Well, which sectors then opt to cooperate with the university?
Defense, food and energy are the first of these sectors that come to Professor Berker’s mind.
Meanwhile, about 10 academics have formed their own companies in order to facilitate the commercialization of the knowledge stemming from the university.
The National Wind Energy System (MILRES) project led by Sabancı University is expected to be activated between the months of July and December. This project, also supported by TÜBİTAK, is about to reveal a wind turbine made by Turkish engineers.
The local turbine is important also because it lays the foundations of the local sub-industry.
Now, let’s take a look at what is regarded as the pupil of Sabancı University, the Nanotechnology Research and Application Center, or SUNUM.
Nanotechnology, which has become essential for today’s scientific research, is a new field in the developmental stage in Turkey.
Investments in nanotechnology in the world are 80 billion dollars while Turkey’s share in this is a budget between 500 million and 1 billion Turkish Liras.
SUNUM is the newest among the nearly 20 nanotechnology centers in Turkey. The Development Ministry and the Sabancı Foundation have jointly invested 60 million liras in SUNUM.
SUNUM conducts research upon incoming demands from several sectors. Demand from companies, especially those producing intermediate goods, has rocketed.
Recently, the research focuses on demands from the health sector for sterilized walls or textiles for hospital bed sheets.
The cooperation between industry and Sabancı University, which can be regarded as a model, is one of the reasons why Turkey is succeeding in “information technologies” lately.
An immediate reminder: In the Global Information Technology report issued by the World Economic Forum last month, Turkey went up seven places to become the 45th among 142 countries.