Sunday, November 20, 2011

Turkey Launches Defense Techno-Park

ISTANBUL - The Turkish government Nov. 18 laid the foundation of a technology center, called Teknopark Istanbul, that will house hundreds of mainly defense companies and their research and development efforts, hoping to create a Silicon Valley for the country's defense industry.
Science, Industry and Technology Minister Nihat Ergun said Teknopark Istanbul, on the city's Asian side, would become the largest of its kind in Turkey.
Teknopark Istanbul will operate a 700,000-square-meter space at Sabiha Gokcen Airport near here, accommodating 30,000 personnel and targeting up to $5 billion in defense and nondefense business annually, to become one of Europe's largest technology parks, said Turgut Senol, the technology center's CEO.
Its major shareholders are the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), Turkey's arms procurement agency, with a 45 percent stake, and the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO) with a 40 percent stake. ITO, which also runs a university with the same name, has some 300,000 member companies.
"The site will bring together companies and 27 universities in Istanbul, targeting strategic fields like aviation, maritime, electronics, information technology, nanotechnology, energy and automotive, biotechnologies, automation systems and robot technologies," he said.
Some of the world's technology giants are in talks with Teknopark Istanbul to build their own offices there, Senol said.
"The site will offer its residents tax advantages and logistical benefits, as they will be located within a major airport and have quick access to a trans-European motorway," he said. "Here, we will be hosting both Turkish and foreign techno ventures."
In recent years, Turkish companies have won subcontracts from multinational programs, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, attack helicopters and naval vessels, as well as contracts for vehicles, electronics and software for Turkey's military.
"Foreign contractors surely will benefit from Teknopark Istanbul, as international production programs involving Turkey are on a visible rise," Senol said.
According to Senol, the first resident companies will start operations at the Teknopark by the end of next year. Partners SSM and ITO have earmarked an initial construction budget of $100 million for the project.
"Our principal mission is to contribute to the national innovation system and to boost the local industry's international competitiveness through multinational partnerships and technological advancement," Senol said.
Defense analysts said the technology park is intended to further boost local companies with a first-ever serious investment in research and development.

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