Istanbul – Silicon Valley 2.0

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by Leslie Deinhammer

Technology wonks are trading their lattes for hookahs, leaving the city by the bay for the Bosphorous. Istanbul’s TeknoPark, a 950,000 square meter, 4 billion (USD) defense and aerospace commons, is targeted to open in January. Scaled to accommodate 30,000 people, 1,000 top advanced technology companies and 18 universities, TeknoPark is latest in a series of initiatives seeking to advance Istanbul as the “defense and aerospace Silicon Valley” of the Near East.

Jointly developed by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey’s sole defense procurement agency, shareholders seek to market their “Turkish model” to foreign investors.

Shareholders are enticing foreign companies to invest in Istanbul by offering tax incentives and exemptions. According TR Defense’s Turkish Military and GeoPolitics Portal, “Resident companies’ research and development activity at Teknopark Istanbul will be exempt from corporate and income tax. Similarly, software companies will be exempt from the value added tax. Operating costs like power will also be supplied at major discounts.”

Targeted to be fully operational by 2023, TeknoPark is already home to several Bay Area transplants. Among the businesses being wooed are SpeedNext, a telecommunications connectivity firm, InfoDif, a military and security sector people counting and object detection startup and Pozitron.

Pozitron, a leading mobile technology company who partners with IBM, Intel, Microsoft, MIT and Stanford University among others, provides services to such notable clients as the Qatar Islamic Bank and Europe’s fourth largest carrier, Turkish Airlines.

According to one Pozitron employee blog, transitioning from San Francisco to Istanbul has been somewhat seamless. Blogger, Peri Kadaster, Head of Strategy and Marketing at Pozitron, was surprised to find Turkey had a “very young and increasingly educated population.” Kadaster goes on to say, “There are many similarities between Istanbul and the Bay Area – every week there are countless happy hours, conferences, and other events. There is an energy that is palpable.” In a separate post, Kadaster speaks glowingly of Istanbul’s driven “gender agnostic” culture, with its “absence of a focus on gender.”

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