TÜSİAD, TÜSİAD- SABANCI University Competitiveness Forum (REF), “National Innovation Initiative” set up in coordination with REF and Turkish Enterprise and Business Confederation (TURKONFED) which was initiated with 6 regional and 3 sector-specific federations have started a project on the establishment of sector-based Regional Innovation Centres to increase the competitiveness in the regions that play a crucial role in regional development.

The aim of the project is to increase the competitiveness of Turkey in global economy, taking into account the importance of competitive clusters and innovation based on R&D, to activate the local stakeholders for establishment of Regional Innovation Centres in the light of international models and provide establishment of 20 Regional Innovation Centres as a first step. In addition, these centres will have an effect on decreasing regional disparities in terms of development and growth based on innovation.

Regional Innovation Centres will work to enhance the cooperation between industry and universities, to increase competitiveness by means of innovation in selected sectors, to prepare regional innovation strategies, to support innovation and R&D projects in the region on selected sectors, to provide the continuity of cooperation between industry, university and NGOs, transfer of know-how to the region with international matches. Furthermore, the Regional Innovation Centers will be twinned with international innovation centers in consistent with their sectors to benefit from the international experiences.

In this respect, TUSIAD and Movement of the French Enterprises (MEDEF) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 22.02.2007, regarding the cooperation between Turkey and France, taking into consideration the R&D led innovation and competitive clusters. The MoU enables MEDEF to provide its experience on competitiveness clusters policy of France, share information on the objectives and mechanisms of this program and will ensure that meetings with executive members of the French competitiveness clusters are made available in order to get contacts and provide information and experience on the French initiative. In addition, cooperation with other countries will be provided.

Each center is planned to be financed under the Joint Science and Technology Network and Platform Establishment Initiative Program (ISBAP) by Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) that supports similar networks between industry, universities and other related parties for 3 years. Under İŞBAP programme, 50 % co-financing by project partners is required.

Determinations of regions and sectors for Regional Innovation Centres, setting up of the centres in a coordinated way, development of a communication network to provide the coordination of the activities of the centres are critically important for the establishment of the centres as successful models. Therefore, an umbrella project on “Regional Innovation Centres Supervision Network” has been approved and financed under the Joint Science and Technology Network and Platform Establishment Initiative Program (ISBAP) by TÜBİTAK, to enhance the innovation culture through constitution of a cooperation platform, to provide the determination of regions and sectors for Regional Innovation Centres, to establish, coordinate and supervise these 20 centres and to develop a communication network among the centres.

Regional Innovation Centers Report and its main findings was introduced to public on January 6, 2009, along with a panel discussion.