Ankara; the distinguished capital of our country… This city has been known by different names in history. It has witnessed the Hellenistic Period, the Roman Period, the Seljuk, and the Ottoman Empire and had been used as a center from time to time.
Ankara, an Anatolian city, has been developing day by day after being chosen as the capital in the following period. Throughout history, this capital city has created an ecosystem that consists of universities and industrial organizations. The main focus of this ecosystem has always been improvement and advancement. This city has definitely established an inseparable link with technology.
When somebody talks about technology, innovations such as robots, software, and artificial intelligence technologies come to mind. However, TDK (Turkish Language Association) defines the word “technology” as: “All of the tools and related information developed by man to control and change his material environment.” Based on this definition, we can place the word technology on a wider spectrum. Everything that people produce to make their life easier is actually technology. To give an example, when you visit the museums in Ankara, it is very likely that you are going to encounter the “latest technologies” of ancient civilizations because all kinds of tools such as stone knives, arrows, scythes, wheels, spoons, and forks of that period were advanced technologies of their times. That is why Ankara has been a technology city in the past as it has hosted many ancient civilizations. It was clear from that time on that Ankara would become such a significant technology city. When we come to today, we see an Ankara which always develops and grows. Ankara is like a Silicon Valley where both important government institutions and many high-quality universities, techno parks, startups, private sector companies, and industries are located!
Now close your eyes and visualize the Eskişehir highway in Ankara from a bird’s eye view: On the one side, there are very important universities such as METU, Bilkent, and Hacettepe; on the other side, there are industrial startups, private sector initiatives, state institutions, cafes, shopping centers, banks and financial institutions, and techno parks where bright ideas mature and flourish. That’s exactly why it looks like SiliconValley !
So, the ecosystem required to become a technology city already exists in this city. There is a possibility, there is a potential, and there is a workforce that has the will to work and produce…
It is also up to us to protect, expand and develop the existing ecosystem in Ankara, which has more than 20 universities, 10 technology development zones or Technopolis / techno parks, 12 organized industrial zones, and 129 R&D centers. When each of us takes responsibility, we can achieve something and develop our city and then our country. The golden key that will unlock the door to development is definitely cooperation. The author has a very nice quote in the book where he talks about collaboration and the importance of working together.
In his book, he says ”The tallest oak in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through its bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down before it matured…” In other words, it was only a result of this cooperation that the oak tree became the tallest and most magnificent oak tree. We can carry the technology city Ankara even further and brand it by providing opportunities to each other and supporting each other without interrupting each other’s light. It is useful not to forget this collaboration and the oak tree metaphor.
Ankara is a very old geography and has great potential. It is capable of being the tallest oak tree in the world’s forest thanks to the efforts of everyone involved in this technology ecosystem.
It is possible to see the most prominent and special examples of the aforementioned cooperation in technoparks. These institutions, which have made it their mission to bring universities, state institutions, and private sector companies together and to welcome entrepreneurs, have a beautiful representation in Ankara: Ankara has 10 technoparks! For example, ODTÜ TEKNOKENT carries out more than 2800 projects with its university partners and contributes to our economy by exporting 1.7 billion dollars of technology. On the other hand, Hacettepe Teknokent hosts more than 300 different companies and works diligently to lead the way in research and development with more than 4030 R&D personnel.
Ankara University Technopark, which carries out extremely valuable work for the agriculture and livestock sector, includes more than 120 companies and 19% of these companies operate in the fields of food, agriculture, and animal husbandry. While agriculture and animal husbandry have great importance for Ankara and our country, the work of this technopark is located in a very meaningful place. Additionally, the example of Ostim Technopark, which is located in the Ostim Organized Industrial Zone, is an extremely valuable formation in terms of bringing together and producing industrial startups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and universities. This technopark aims to make it easier for entrepreneurs to benefit directly from the competence and knowledge in the industry. This technopark has many partners and is a great example in terms of cooperation in the startup ecosystem.
These technoparks, which we can include a few of them with short examples, are bringing in very successful entrepreneurs and very important collaborations every day. In addition to technoparks, we should address another element that makes Ankara a technology city: the defense industry ecosystem. According to the 2021 Annual Report of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, Ankara’s contribution to the defense industry sector across Turkey accounts for more than 70% of the entire sector and Ankara hosts a total of 46 defense industry companies. While the value of the entire sector is $ 8.85 billion, Ankara alone generates $ 6.37 billion in revenue. For the defense industry, which is one of the most important factors of being a technology city, institutions such as ASELSAN, HAVELSAN and TAI come to mind. However, we should always keep in mind that when we talk about an entire ecosystem, we should keep our range wide!
As the defense industry is doing such successful work, the startups in technoparks should also be quite successful and new startups should be branded to increase the brand value of Ankara and then of Turkey, and we should keep following different sectors without ignoring the potential of the growing sectors so that successful and effective ones can be born in Ankara. Ankara has already achieved this with many brands.
Both Ankara and Turkey need Ankara startups, such as those that produce e-scooters that can go longer distances thanks to their longer battery capacity. Also, we ought to remember the competence of the ecosystem in Ankara in the gaming sector. Thanks to Loop Games, Pantheon, TaleWorlds, and tens of hundreds of our existing and potential game companies, I am sure that we will skyrocket the brand value of Ankara in Turkey and the world gaming sector. We are talking about a city that is the export leader in the game sector.
As a capital city, hosting international startup events such as “Get in the Ring” is a great opportunity to show the world the multifaceted and powerful players and ecosystem of Ankara. It was really proud and happy for us to have sponsored this prestigious event held at Bilkent Cyberpark in Ankara this year and to have opened Turkey’s first Web3, R&D, and innovation center on the same day.
The further steps of the ecosystem we always talk about, its growth and development, and Ankara’s progress in the field of technology depend upon cooperation, which is the golden key. By using our potential, our youth, our startups, our technoparks, our breakthroughs and investments, and by working together, we can become the tallest and most magnificent oak tree. We can do this by knowing Ankara’s technology connection, learning its historical stance, and analyzing its potential for the future correctly. Today, in Ankara, there are e-scooter companies, and tomorrow, there is going to be Ankara-based giant game-sector, fintech-sector, Web 3.0, and metaverse brands, and the following successful startups will grow this ecosystem.
If we do not block each other’s daylight and support each other in this fertile ecosystem, why shouldn’t Ankara be the tallest and most magnificent oak in the forest…