The Supreme Council for Science and Technology (BTYK), the agency in charge of designating science, technology, and innovation policies in Turkey, was established on the 4th of October, 1983 through an executive decree. The Supreme Council meets twice annually under the chairmanship of the prime minister and it is attended by the vice prime ministers, fourteen cabinet members (the ministers of: science, industry and technology; energy and natural resources; education; food, agriculture and husbandry; customs and trade; finance; defense; health; and, forestry and water) along with the president of YÖK, the Undersecretary of the Treasury, the Undersecretary of Economics, the Undersecretary of Development, the president of TÜBİTAK, the general manager of TRT, the president of TOBB and a representative from a university selected by YÖK.

The BTYK’s primary duties are the following: determining Turkey’s policies on science; assisting the government in long term science and technological policies; defining the goals and developing plans along with the necessary legal and regulatory preparations; cooperating with the private sector; setting up research centers; and, developing researcher potential by determining areas of priority.[1]

The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) plays important roles both as secretariat of the BTYK in formulating science, technology, and innovation policies and as the funding institution for R&D conducted in Turkey. The Research Area of Turkey (Türkiye Araştırma Alanı, TARAL) can be described as a forum for cooperation between governmental institutions, universities, and industry in research areas that have been prioritized for Turkey.[2]

The most comprehensive research strategy document published to date is the National Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy Document 2011-2016, published by TÜBİTAK in 2010.  The national vision for research was defined in this document as follows: “For Turkey to have the ability to convert the knowledge produced and technologies which have been developed into products, processes and services for the welfare of humanity.”

In order to realize this vision, the TÜBİTAK Supreme Council for Science and Technology (BTYK) conducts studies with the aim of designating areas which have a favored status for private sector R&D in which Turkey has the export capacity and competitive edge for innovation regarding research and development activities. The areas that have geopolitical importance and emerge from geopolitical necessities have been listed as the following: defense and space technologies, and energy, water and food technologies that are essential inputs for the day-to-day running of the economy and social life and that are necessary for the upkeep of Turkey’s living standards. The document also embraces a bottom up perspective on research which allows universities, companies, and research institutes to produce research in areas that they have themselves determined, and this also provides encouragement for pioneering research in areas that are considered to have priority.[3]

BTYK listed the following eight priority areas in its 2003-2023 National Science and Technology Strategy Document: 1) Integrated circuit and design technologies; 2) Health technologies, and biological and genetics technologies; 3) Renewable energy and environmental technologies; 4) Boron technologies and intelligent materials; 5) Mechatronics; 6) Nanotechnology; 7) GRID design technology; and, 8) Product process technologies.[4] The Vision 2023 Action Plan was developed in tandem with the above mentioned strategy document to facilitate funding for these prioritized areas.