OSSA Cluster Creating Joint Competition via Collaboration to Increase Quality, Localization and Nationalization Solutions

In an interview with the Chairman of OSSA Cluster Board Of Directors, Mithat ERTUĞ Interview Discuss how Clusters Benefit from Exploring Solutions and Create Industrial Order and Opportunity together by Holding Joint Meetings and Discussions

Issue 91

Defence Turkey: Mr. Mithat ERTUĞ, as OSTIM’s Defence and Aviation cluster, can you inform us about your activities, current number of your members, your areas of activity and the demographic distribution of your members etc.?

Mithat ERTUĞ: As the OSSA Cluster, we have currently 225 members. However, we compare the OSSA cluster with its capabilities, not the number of its members. We have 225 members in our cluster right now. We have members that can use 50 ERP operating systems and have about 60 AS 9100 certificates and plant security certificates. We define the size of our cluster with the number of qualified companies. When we set up the first cluster, we had 2 companies with AS-9100 certificates. The UR-GE (Supporting the Development of International Competitiveness) support of the Ministry of Commerce has made a significant contribution to increase the quality of our companies and to attain this number. Thanks to them, our companies have reached this quality and the engineering capabilities of our companies have improved a lot. The international exports are fully dependent on this certification and this increased our international reputation and recognition. Our cluster has been using URGE support successfully since 2012.

Defence Turkey: What is your evaluation of the OSSA’s position in cluster in the sector since its establishment?

Mithat ERTUĞ: Public, University and SMEs form the basis of the sector. We felt the support of the Presidency Defence Industries. The decision to give a %30 share to SMEs in Defence Industry projects was implemented by the Presidency of Defence Industries. The fact that we have the Presidency of Defence Industries on our side strengthened our project. Today, the share of SMEs in the projects has increased to almost 50% even 60%. As a result of these important decisions, they realized the value of SMEs in our main contractor companies. Before bringing the ICDDA event to Turkey, we had the chance to observe the effectiveness of this cooperation in Mexico for the first time and we evaluated that it could be very successful if we do this event in Turkey, and we brought it to our country. This was already a part of our project.

Defence Turkey: Within the scope of R&D activities, what kind of support have you provided to your members as OSSA?

Mithat ERTUĞ: We try to express this in every platform thanks to the support of KOSGEB and TÜBİTAK, the number of R&D projects has increased. The embargos imposed on Turkey is one of the major factors which increases the number of R&D activities, this in turn, increased the demand. R&D has a great importance in all of the products and systems that are localized. Domestic and national products would not have emerged if R&D studies were not carried out. When demand came from the state, we forwarded it to our members and showed the feasibility of doing so, and thus increased R&D and improved our engineering staff.

Defence Turkey: This, of course, brings along many success stories. Can you give us some examples?

Mithat ERTUĞ: There are many. The firing systems of armored vehicles, which were previously supplied from abroad, are produced here today. There are also those made by the main contractors, but many subsystems are made by SMEs. Development of these systems is carried out by our SMEs. Our members are working on a number of subsystems in the National Fighter Jet (TF-X) Project. We are working on the localization of valve systems supplied from abroad. We said we can do it and aspired to do it and applied for this project. Many localized parts and subsystems are included in the helicopter project. Again, there are many parts localized by our members for the HÜRKUŞ project. Currently, we are focusing on producing the subsystems here. Today we have companies that can develop software and design smart chips. There was a significant gap in the middle of the pyramid where the main contractors were at the top and the SMEs were at the bottom. Today, here, we are filling that gap in the middle.

Two companies will make the Solenoid Valve together. The company that makes the Electric-Electronic part will join the company that makes the valve. A success story will emerge thanks to the two companies that make the Solenoid Valve, which will be used in the National Fighter Jet project.

Defence Turkey: What are the activities of the OSSA for the promotion of its members abroad? In this context, what activities have been planned for 2019?

Mithat ERTUĞ: We participate in almost 80% of the fairs abroad related to Defence and Aviation. We represent Turkey in almost all of the exhibitions abroad such as Farnborough Air Show, Eurosatory, Aeromart, DSEI, and the Paris Air Show. We do not only participate in fairs abroad but in bilateral negotiations as well; we examine new markets such as Brazil, Morocco, Mexico, Pakistan, Ukraine; we attend events and promote our members’ capabilities.

Defence Turkey: You hosted the fourth ICDDA event on October 23-25. In this context, what are your assessments about this year’s conference?

Mithat ERTUĞ: 260 companies from 60 countries participated and 5,700 registered business meetings were held during the event. If you add the unregistered ones on top of this, we can say that many more B2B interviews were carried out. We only evaluate the registered ones, however, there were also as many as unregistered ones as well.

Defence Turkey: Are there any cooperation agreements signed as a result of B2B negotiations? What can you tell us about the feedback from the participants?

Mithat ERTUĞ: We haven’t received any feedback from the participants yet, but we know that the meetings were very good. I visited all the stands individually and got the opinions of the companies and what I saw was 100% satisfaction. 

Apart from the domestic and foreign companies at ICDDA; we were also pleased with the participation of our valuable institutions such as AFAD, MSB General Directorate of Military Factories and Shipyards, Security Forces, Gendarmerie, Presidency of BTK, DMO, Turkish General Staff, Air - Land - Naval Forces Commands, TSKGV, and SaSaD. In addition, military participants from many countries such as the Ministry of Defence Industry of Azerbaijan, Qatar Armed Forces, Brazilian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Kuwait evaluated fields of cooperation with Turkish companies during ICDDA.

Defence Turkey: Within the scope of ICDDA, what are your thoughts on the advantages of the B2B meetings for SMEs and Main Contractors? What are your assessments about the development of ICDDA following these four events?

Mithat ERTUĞ: In the beginning, our main contractors thought we were promoting our subcontractors to them and opposed it. We encountered such problems during our first event. After that, they stated that these interviews were actually quite useful, and they added many subcontractors to their portfolios and as a result, they sponsored every single one of our activities.

Defence Turkey: What is the expected date for this event, which is planned to be held for the fifth time in 2020? Have you already decided on the concept of your next event?

Mithat ERTUĞ: After 2013, I declared the dates of all the three events in 2014 and set a definite date. But the date of this last event coincided with other important events abroad, also some similar activities came out in our country, so we changed our date for the event. We pay close attention not to coincide with the dates of international events. We are planning to hold our event on 13-15 October 2020.

Defence Turkey: Thank you very much for sharing your insight with us