Turkey's R&D investments– good, but not good enough
Investment in research and development (R&D) showed a slight increase last year compared to 2011's figure, though Turkey is still very far from realizing its ambitious 2023 targets in this field.
The share of funds drawn from Turkey's gross domestic product (GDP) for R&D investment climbed to 0.92 percent in 2012, with a 0.06 percent increase compared to the previous year, which stood at 0.86 percent.
This remains well below the level of 3 percent which Ankara expects to reach by 2023.
According to a Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat) study released on Wednesday, based on data provided by public institutions, commercial enterprises and public and private universities, TL 13.06 billion was spent on R&D in 2012, an increase of 17.1 percent from 2011.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on Wednesday that Turkey aims to increase the share of its GDP allocated to R&D projects to 3 percent. Speaking at an industrial meeting held in Ankara, Erdoğan said the main priority of the Turkish industrial sector should be R&D, especially in design and innovation.
Last year, in an exclusive interview with Today's Zaman, Science, Industry and Technology Minister Nihat Ergün said the share of Turkey's GDP invested in R&D climbed from 0.5 percent in 2002 to 1 percent in 2011, adding that the government is planning to reach 3 percent by 2023, the centenary of the establishment of the Turkish Republic. He estimates that 3 percent of GDP will amount to $60 billion in 2023.
Regarding the distribution of R&D expenditure, commercial enterprises have the largest share with 45.5 percent. While universities accounted for 43.9 percent of spending on R&D, the share from public institutions was 11.3 percent.
In terms of financial contributions to R&D projects, commercial enterprises also have the largest share with 46.8 percent, followed by public institutions with 28.2 percent. Universities financed 21.1 percent of R&D projects. Foreign sources financed 0.6 percent of R&D in Turkey. In terms of full-time employment, 105,122 people worked in the R&D sector in 2012, an increase of 13.3 percent compared with the previous year. According to the study, 49.7 percent of R&D personnel were employed by commercial enterprises, while 38.8 percent worked at universities. Public institutions employed 11.5 percent of R&D personnel in Turkey.
Regarding the regional distribution of R&D spending in Turkey, the largest share of R&D spending was in the Western Anatolia region with 28.5 percent, according to the study, followed by İstanbul with 15.4 percent.
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