Istanbul Development Agency earmarks $60.5M for innovative, tech-oriented projects

The Industry and Technology Ministry has prepared six programs for Istanbul under the scope of the Istanbul Development Agency’s (ISTKA) 2021 Support Programs, including four financial support programs, one feasibility support program and one regional enterprise fund call, and has allocated a total of TL 458 million ($60.48 million) for the programs tailored for the metropolis, Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank said Friday.

The minister, who was speaking at the ISTKA 2021 Support Program publicity meeting, said they are working to make Istanbul a regional and global entrepreneurship center by utilizing its potential.

Varank said they put forward an inclusive and holistic policy framework with the vision of a “National Technology Move,” emphasizing that regional development policies aiming to reduce the development disparities between regions are an important element of this. He said that with this vision, they are working to make every corner of the country a center of attraction by taking advantage of each area’s potential and its unique features.

Varank said they have implemented tailored projects considering the needs and competencies of cities across the country. “The Istanbul Development Agency, on the other hand, started its activities in 2009 to use the opportunities of the metropolis in a development-oriented manner,” he said.

The minister said that since its establishment, the Istanbul Development Agency has provided TL 1.2 billion of support to 842 projects in the city.

Varank also explained the new financial support programs.

Innovative Istanbul, the first financial support program for nonprofit institutions and organizations, will support many critical technologies including artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), augmented reality and cybersecurity. Varank said they will encourage the establishment of innovation-based, common-use areas in organized industrial zones (OIZ) and technology development zones, adding that they will also support projects aimed at establishing digital transformation centers and creating innovation interfaces in the field of smart urbanization.

With the second program, the Entrepreneurship Financial Support Program, they aim to develop and strengthen the technology- and innovation-centered entrepreneurship ecosystem, Varank explained. “We will provide the support that will enable enterprises to access finance, rapidly grow and globalize. We will support the establishment of thematic incubation centers and the implementation of acceleration programs. We will make an important contribution to the vision of becoming a regional entrepreneurship center,” he said.

The third program, the Creative Industries Financial Support Program, will support projects that will increase the weight of creative industries in Istanbul’s economy to increase the added value of products and services through design and to strengthen local crafts with original cultural production processes.

“Fourth and lastly, with the Children and Youth Financial Support Program, we will accelerate the integration of children and young people living in Istanbul into the transforming economic and social structure. The focus of the program is to increase the capabilities of children and young people in innovation, innovativeness and entrepreneurship,” Varank emphasized.

The minister added that they are preparing a strategy and action plan for Istanbul to become a center of attraction for local and foreign enterprises focused on technology and innovation and that the International Istanbul Entrepreneurship Program is currently being prepared to achieve this aim.

“We will determine the activities and action plans in this program together with all stakeholders,” he added.