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TSSK`s 7th Project Market and Cooperation Summit Held in Ankara

The 7th Project Market Summit organized by Teknokent Defense Industry Cluster (TSSK) was held with the main theme of "Sectoral Cooperation and Qualified Workforce"

Issue 98

The TSSK Project Market and Cooperation Summit was organized for the 7th time this year by Teknokent Defense Industry Cluster and was held with the participation of Prof. İsmail DEMİR, the President of Defense Industries, on January 5, 2020 in Ankara at the METU Culture and Congress Center. The Summit, with main theme of “Sectoral Cooperation and Qualified Workforce”, was held by the Teknokent Defense Industry Cluster, METU and ODTÜ TEKNOKENT under the auspices of the Ministry of National Defense and the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), with the cooperation of the Ministry of Trade, TÜBİTAK, ASO and SaSaD.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the event, TSSK Chairman of the Board Zeynep ÖKTEM said that the objective of this event is to bring together the procurement authorities, main contractors and cluster members to cultivate cooperation. Pointing out the importance of collaboration within this context, ÖKTEM said, “Last year, we aimed to increase awareness about our cluster and improve our collaborations by conducting talks and visits. When we look at the domain expertise of the companies within our cluster, the number of which has increased by 10% compared to the previous year, we see that they carry out a large spectrum of activities and develop products that use critical technology, in particular. Cooperation with the main contractors and institutions within the sector needs to be achieved in order to use the R&D project outputs, with a technology readiness level of 5-6, as domestic and national products on the platforms, by increasing their technology readiness levels. While establishing cooperation, we wish that it will be in the form of strategic partnerships that protect our relatively small companies developing products with indigenous designs, ensure their sustainability, enable them to become intensified in technology, without hindering the competition, and realize long-term and order-guarantee supply processes. For healthy and sustainable collaborations, we also expect that relevant mechanisms are established to protect the intellectual property rights on technologies developed especially by subsystem companies.”

Underlining the importance of having a qualified workforce, ÖKTEM added comments on another issue that the cluster pays special attention to “When we look at the workforce of our member companies, approximately 3,000 qualified employees, we see that the majority of them have MSc and PhD degrees with a solid background in basic sciences, engineering and design. One of the major problems of our companies is that they do not encounter any problems in attaining a qualified  workforce, but they do have difficulty in retaining them for a long time. Unfortunately, our SME level companies could not offer our young colleagues the opportunity for a sustainable and promising career. As a result, there are transitions from big companies to small companies in the sector, in some cases such employees quit working in the sector and even prefer to go abroad. In this context, incentives and policies should be established that keep the trained workforce within the sector, especially making the SMEs in our cluster a center of attraction. Another point is that the relevant work shares of the projects carried out should be assigned to our companies as sub-projects, rather than contracting them with the SMEs on a man/hour or man/day basis.” 

METU Rector Prof. Mustafa Versan KÖK: “Joint R&D activities executed with more than 50 Defense Industry Companies in 2019”

METU Rector Prof. Mustafa Versan KÖK stated in his speech that creating the necessary environment for defense industry companies performing R&D activities in order to develop national and innovative products for the country's defense is among the main objectives of ODTÜ Teknokent.  He noted “As you know in 2006, the Defense Industry Research and Technology Development Subzone was established at ODTÜ Teknokent, as a result of the need arising from the acceleration of R&D studies in the field of the defense industry and due to the increasing number of collaborations. As a consequence, R&D divisions of main contractors such as Aselsan, Havelsan and Turkish Aerospace were located at ODTÜ Teknokent. The Teknokent Defense Industry Cluster began its activities with the participation of ODTÜ Teknokent companies as of 2010 and continues its activities today with the participation of not only ODTÜ Teknokent companies but also defense industry companies operating in other techno-cities. Approximately one third of over 400 technology companies currently performing within ODTÜ Teknokent are companies operating in the field of defense and security.”

Referring to the activities carried out within ODTÜ Teknokent, KÖK also stated that they contributed to the defense sector and accomplished significant collaborations through the research centers and Technology Transfer Office (TTO) within Middle East Technical University. KÖK: “METU faculty members and undergraduates, particularly from electrical and electronics, computer, aerospace, metallurgy and mechanical engineering departments, execute defense industry projects in 29 research centers that are currently conducting research. In 2019, joint R&D activities were carried out with more than 50 defense industry companies in projects supported by state funds or through our own resources. Within this framework, our independent R&D project for the development of Very Light Aircraft, which we carried out with Turkish Aerospace, was also entitled for the University-Sector Cooperation Award within the scope of the Outstanding Achievement Awards given to our university in 2019.”

President of the Presidential Human Resources Office Salim ATAY: “We are preparing the human resources inventory of the Republic of Turkey”

President of the Presidential Human Resources Office Assoc. Prof. Salim ATAY highlighted the issue of how university graduates are utilized by the private sector. He provided information about the activities performed in this regard. “We, as the Presidential Human Resources Office, provide data to policy makers and decision makers of our country having 32 million employees and give support to decision-making processes based on accurate data. For this purpose, in order to respond the question that has been discussed for years about which university is more successful, we conducted a study on how university graduates are utilized on the basis of department, faculty and university by mapping the graduate data we obtained from the Council of Higher Education and the employment data obtained from the Social Security Institution. We have put this study into use, and we informed our rectors about the results of the study regarding their universities. Now everybody knows where their graduates are working, what they are doing, how much money they earn, who is unemployed and how long it took for them to find a job. More critically, we have also conducted a study according to OECD norms, for the determination of whether or not they are employed for the job suitable for their skillsets (under or overqualified). We did this and we will continue to do it regularly every year.”

Providing information about the survey they conducted for university graduates working in the public sector, ATAY said, “This study was about how the markets valued the university; we also carried out a study called KAMU-VERİ (public-data) on how the employees valued the public sector. 862,000 employees working in the public sector participated in this study. It was a questionnaire consisting of 89 to 130 questions. We are now able to measure the productivity of all our institutions based on employee feedback. We analyzed this data and shared the outcome with all our institutions. Of course, when we were conducting this KAMU-VERİ study, we also involved the universities and asked academicians and administrative staff working at universities to share their opinions with us about the university administration. We also shared the results with our university rectors.”  

ATAY also shared information about their studies on talent migration, called Talent Mobility. “As for Talent Mobility, it is clear that a talented person goes wherever there is an opportunity; you cannot block them, you cannot build barriers, you cannot build custom walls. A talented person is the one who sees the opportunity better than anyone, so they prefer global opportunities.  At that moment, as the Presidential Human Resources Office, we defined our policy to try to not prevent these people from leaving, but to raise awareness that this is the best country to return to eventually, if our people choose to go to another country. In this regard, we first started the “Talent is Everywhere” events in which 130 universities participated, under the coordination of 10 different universities from Erzurum to Edirne. Last year 70,000 students attended, and 300,000 students will attend this year. This is our plan and we started applying it regularly. In order to achieve this, we established Career Centers in 181 universities. Unfortunately, there were no career centers previously, except for just a few universities in Turkey. This is a problem the U.S. solved in the 1930s and 1950s. We did not have career centers before, but now we perform all our activities through them.

President of the Presidential Human Resources Office, Salim ATAY: “92% of defense industry employees are engineers, the average salary of newly recruited engineers is TL 5,700 and with a grade point average of 3.11.” 

Stating that they are preparing the human resources inventory of the Republic of Turkey, ATAY added, “The human resources inventory study, which maps data such as primary, secondary, high school, higher education, health, and security over 86 million individual data, is being carried out. Soon, we will release this study to all relevant institutions and organizations within the context of macro data so that they will be able to carry out their own human resources planning with this information. This data will give us clues in many areas such as how many people we have in which city and village, in which areas we have a skill shortage, and we will exert our best efforts to make policies in parallel with these specific data. I would also like to share several data with you. 28% of employees in the defense industry in Turkey are from METU, 11% from Bilkent University, 9% from Hacettepe University and 9% from ITU. The number of people starting to work in the defense industry has increased 4 times in the last 5 years, 74% of which are male and unfortunately 26% are female. 92% of defense industry employees are engineers; 30% of them are electrical and electronic engineers, 24% are mechanical engineers and 15% are computer engineers. 75% of our graduates are from state universities, while 25% from private universities.  Here, we understand that the private university project implemented in Turkey is fruitful. Their grade point average is 3.11, which means that the best educated people prefer the defense industry, and their recruitment process takes 5.4 months and the average salary of newly employed engineers is TL 5,696. Consequently, the defense industry is the leading industry in Turkey, and Middle East Technical University is the driving force of this locomotive. According to the public data survey, which we have not shared with the public before, we observed that the employees having the highest level of satisfaction and sense of belonging are those working in the defense industry.”

President of Defense Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR: “Sustainability would be unachievable in a structure in which merely the Defense Industry is constantly ahead, and other industries remain behind.”

Underlining that the defense industry attracts great attention as a driving force in Turkey in which significant industrial and technological activities are performed, President of Defense Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR said, “I’d like to say once again that sustainability would be unachievable in a structure in which merely the Defense Industry is constantly ahead and other industries remain behind. It is a matter of ecosystem, technology readiness level and competency level. We need to carefully examine the pyramid structure where all kinds of preparation and infrastructure starting from human resources are accomplished and the supported sectors and technologies are thoroughly assessed, and we need to make sure that there is no gap within this structure. If we want to progress favorably with benefiting us in the coming years, I would like to emphasize that an extensive and dedicated study should be performed without missing the technologies of the future, while exerting efforts to achieve what others have achieved years ago.”

Emphasizing the importance of transferring experiences accumulated in the defense sector to the civil sector in order to meet the needs of the Armed Forces and security forces with maximum national and local opportunities and to create a sustainable defense industry ecosystem, DEMİR said, “In order to reach our fully independent defense industry targets, while developing defense industry products with national technologies and domestic opportunities during the period of 2019-2023, foreign dependency at the system, subsystem and component level should be minimized. It should be noted that the investments and support to R&D still need to be increased, in relation to the resources allocated to R&D by our major companies, as per the analysis made in the overall country and in comparative analysis. While it is necessary to increase this resource, it is also essential to discuss how efficiently the resource is used by looking at the outputs and analyzing the data. First of all, we have to agree on the R&D and NPD (New Product Development) definitions, and then compare the concrete data such as the number of patents obtained, the number of products developed and the export figures against the allocated resources. Regarding exports, I believe that the comparison on kg basis is no longer reasonable. We will not be able to measure things on kg basis one day; therefore, we can include criteria such as the export figure per employee.”

After the opening speeches given by TSSK Chairman of the Board Zeynep ÖKTEM, METU Rector Prof. Mustafa Versan KÖK, President of the Presidential Human Resources Office Salim ATAY and President of Defense Industries Prof. İsmail DEMİR, the “Sectoral Cooperation” and “Qualified Workforce” panels were held during the afternoon session. During the Summit, participant companies also displayed their products all day at the stands in the exhibition area and B2B meetings were held as well.

Teknokent Defense Industry Cluster (TSSK)

ODTÜ TEKNOKENT hosts a total of over 400 companies actively involved in R&D, more than 130 of which are defense industry oriented, as well as many research centers and laboratories located in METU. As of 2010, these defense-oriented companies were assembled as the Teknokent Defense Industry Cluster (TSSK). These  companies possess complementary and value adding vertical expertise in developing new products and services for the fields of defense, aviation, homeland security and cybersecurity.

The purpose of the Project Market event, organized for the seventh time this year by METU, ODTÜ TEKNOKENT and TSSK is to develop the relationship and communication between large, medium and small-scale companies in the defense industry sector and to contribute to them in undertaking more projects together, increasing domestic products, solutions and services, utilizing the existing industrial resources effectively, planning the prospective investments properly, opening them up to international markets and increasing exports. To this end, TSSK Project Market was organized under the main theme of “Sectoral Cooperation and Qualified Workforce” in 2020.  The event has been held since 2010 to create an environment that will facilitate technology development and R&D oriented defense industry companies located in METU and other Technocities in the region or those incorporating R&D Centers within their bodies, to establish faster and more active communication, stimulating an exchange ideas and information, furthering their business development potential