GTU Takes A Leap Forward In Biotechnology
The Institute of Biotechnology at GTU has recently taken action to ensure that Turkey is listed among the world’s leading countries in the field of biotechnology, by adopting the Turkish Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology’s Strategy and Action Plan for Biotechnology in Turkey. Starting education and teaching with its thesis and non-thesis master’s programs as well as PhD and integrated PhD programs in Health Biotechnology, Plant Biotechnology, Industrial Biotechnology, and Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology, the Institute will produce human workforce that will address the sector’s needs. Within this scope and in honor of the Institute starting its activities, GTU organized the “Vision in Biotechnology Summit” jointly with GTU Technology Transfer Center Inc., and organizations and institutions including the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV), Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Turkey (IEIS) and Chamber of Chemical Engineers were represented at the event. The summit was attended by specialists and bioentrepreneurs working in the fields of pharmaceutical and health, food, plant, and energy biotechnology as well as students, academics, and sector representatives totaling over to 200 participants.
THE GOAL IS HIGH VALUE-ADDED PRODUCTS
Speaking at the summit, GTU Rector Prof. Haluk Görgün stated that the Institute of Biotechnology’s vision was constituted in line with the Turkish Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology’s 2015-2018 Strategy and Action Plan for Biotechnology in Turkey, and asserted that the Institute aims to produce graduates that can generate innovative, high value-added and globally competitive products, to conduct research activities, and to develop new products. Görgün also pointed out to the fact that the biotechnology market is growing every other day and the license income the universities in the US earn from the patents in this field is over 110 million dollars, and thanked the organizing committee of the summit, which proves GTU’s ambition in such an important field.
Prof. Işıl Kurnaz, President to the Organizing Committee and the Director of the Institute of Biotechnology at GTU, highlighted the fact that the aim of this summit is to pave the way for the production of biotechnological products, to discuss the problems standing in the way of university-industry collaboration, and to propose possible solutions. Kurnaz also expressed that they are hoping some of the certificate programs that are currently in the making as well as the graduate programs that contain compulsory bioentrepreneurship courses will help eliminate the lack of qualified workforce in the field. Assoc. Prof. Abdurrahman Güngör, the General Director to the Technology Transfer Center Inc., which is the Co-Organizing and the Host Organization, said as the Technology Transfer Center and the Office, they always support academicians in starting enterprises, writing patents and designing projects.
“CENTERS WITHOUT WALLS” NEEDED
The emphasis of the speeches within the summit was on “collaboration”, including the speech made by Prof. Hüveyda Başağa, who is a member of the team that prepared the Biotechnology Report for TÜSİAD, and who made the opening speech of the summit. Selin Arslanhan Memiş, who made a speech on behalf of TEPAV, said that it was time they moved on from talking about innovation to making innovation and that their biggest hope in this matter is start-ups. Regarding this, the fact that GTU’s entrepreneur academicians were also present at the summit as speakers and that they talked about the challenges they faced while becoming entrepreneurs were also considered important by the other participants. It was also highlighted in the summit that researchers no longer think inside the laboratory, and the fact that they move on to the macro level was important for academy-industry collaboration; that many PhD-holding researchers are not aware of the job opportunities waiting for them in the industry. Mustafa Türker, PhD, Pakmaya Pak Biotechnology Center’s Director and Scientific Advisory Committee Member of the Institute of Biotechnology at GTU at the same time, asserted that the problem of verticalization or specialization must be solved immediately and that, as many other speakers highlighted, centers of excellence “without walls”, which do not depend on a building but consist of experts in their field, must be established, and the lack of qualified technicians and employees with PhDs must immediately be overcome.
THE KEY PLAYERS OF THE FUTURE
During the summit, academicians met with entrepreneurs and start-up businesses in the poster area. Making his speech on behalf of the angel investors network, Muzaffer Öztan shared with the participants important information on how to receive venture capital fund, and emphasized the significance of conducting market research and making profit/loss analysis for business ideas developed. Prof. Işıl Kurnaz said she hoped this summit would lead to new project ideas, enterprises and joint ventures, one more innovative than the other. The summit ended with the Gelecekhane Founder and Lead Thinker Halil Aksu’s speech titled “Gene Movement – Tsunami of the 21st Century”. Halil Aksu said the key players of the next tsunami of the 21st century will be biotechnology companies following the first tsunami’s key players, which is social media companies. With the positive feedback and support of the academicians and sector participants, the second of the summit was decided to be hosted by GTU again.