AS A TURKISH company that aims to create awareness around the concept of deep tech and support deep tech startups in various ways, Hello Tomorrow Turkey believes there’s a huge potential for Turkish startups in the global arena. Differentiating in its missions statement clearly startups that develop new technologies from those that use existing technologies, Hello Tomorrow Turkey was founded as a Turkish initiative as part of the global Hello Tomorrow platform. Its founder, Timur Topalgoekceli, believes that although the competition is tough, Turkish deep tech startups don’t have a reason to be shy since a growing number of Turkish startups have begun to gain traction and are being recognized globally.
Founded in 2016, Hello Tomorrow Turkey is based in Istanbul and operates both as an advisory company and an association, which creates benefits in terms of providing the support that the Turkish startups need and creates value for the real economy, according to Topalgoekceli. Topalgoekceli, who previously helped build the global energy track at Hello Tomorrow in Paris, decided to start a local chapter in Turkey and add it to the emerging network of global hubs, together with the EU and the U.S., Japan and Singapore. “We wanted to include Turkey on the global map because Turkish deep tech startups rarely attracted any attention internationally,” Topalgoekceli says. “The startup ecosystem in Turkey is fairly young and although there’s rapid growth, this growth happens mainly in sectors that do not require a huge underlying physical infrastructure, like e-commerce, fintech and social media platforms. But these areas do not require the same levels of R&D developments as it is the case for deep tech startups.”
IDENTIFYING AND ELIMINATING BARRIERS
Deep tech is a fairly new concept in Turkey but there are already successful startups in this area. Deep tech entrepreneurship can be defined as R&D-based startups that create technology and innovation, i.e. solutions in software and hardware development, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence and machine learning, medical diagnostics and drug discovery, energy efficiency and storage, etc. But deep tech was not really mainstream when Hello Tomorrow Turkey was established. “To close this gap, first we started an association that includes over 80 technoparks and R&D facilities all across Turkey,” Topalgoekceli explains. “We’ve signed non-commercial deals with them, allowing us to create some sort of a pool with the best startups that were started in these technoparks and R&D facilities. After creating this internal database, we started researching how we can create value for these startups and began holding challenges and events where they can prove themselves.”
26 TURKISH DEEP TECH STARTUPS RECEIVED USD 32.3M INVESTMENT
As Turkish deep tech startups carved the path, they began introducing their ideas. The platform decided to hold the Turkish arm of the Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge, where deep tech startups can apply, present their ideas, get together with various shareholders and investors and receive a prestigious status that come with being a part of Hello Tomorrow. Over 5,000 startups from over 130 countries apply to the Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge each year on average. Turkish startups constitute nearly 100-120 of these applications. After analyzing these applications, the global jury selects a Deep Tech Pioneer category, where 600-700 leading startups in their own respective areas move on to the next step. For the last three years, on average 16 Turkish startups were included in the Deep Tech Pioneer category each year, according to Topalgoekceli. “And when the best of the best is are selected, that leaves us with 80 startups, in other words only the top 1,5%, where for the first time, two Turkish startups were selected last year,” he says. “Generally, startups from more developed ecosystems like North America, Korea, China, Japan and Israel are in the top 80 but now Turkey is in it too. When Hello Tomorrow Turkey was launched, Turkey was ranked around 60th of 130 countries, but since 2018 it consistently ranks on 12th position. Between 2018 and 2020, a total of 26 Turkish startups received USD 32.3m in investments. All these startups have the potential to create employment, new technology export opportunities and also provide gender equality in technical fields. We harbor these potentially leading startups and we provide them the chance to receive investment and create sales channels nationally and internationally.”
Hello Tomorrow Turkey allies with Facebook
BASLAT, another initiative from Hello Tomorrow Turkey in collaboration with Facebook, aims to support early-stage technology startups in the categories of agriculture technologies, smart cities, education technologies, digital health and data and cybersecurity. Launched in 2020, the program aims to provide technical mentorship to selected startups in those sectors from international representatives in terms of marketing, R&D and innovation. The BASLAT final will take place on July 6th, where 5 new deep tech reports will be launched.