DOI :10.26650/B/SS10.2024.013.015   IUP :10.26650/B/SS10.2024.013.015    Full Text (PDF)

Evaluating the Significance of Research and Development (R&D) Activities in the Turkish Economy: a Comparative Study in the Context of SDG 9 - Target 9.5

Güzin Emel Akkuş

The objective of this study is to evaluate Türkiye’s standing in research and development (R&D) activities throughout the 2000s through a comparative approach, in line with the aims of Target 9.5 within Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9. This target seeks to stimulate innovation and significantly raise the number of research and development professionals per one million individuals. Moreover, it endeavours to enhance both public and private expenditures in research and experimental development. The data analysis reveals that despite a substantial increase from 2000 to 2021, Türkiye still lags behind the majority of selected countries in terms of the proportion of gross domestic R&D expenditure (GERD) in GDP and the number of researchers per one million inhabitants, both of which are crucial indicators for monitoring progress towards Target 9.5. Furthermore, based on the 2021 data, Türkiye ranks behind most of the selected countries in terms of the proportion of business enterprise (private) R&D expenditures (BERD), government (public) R&D expenditures (GOVERD), and higher education R&D expenditures (HERD) to GDP. Between 2000 and 2021, there was a significant increase in the business enterprise sector’s contribution to GERD, reaching 70.7%, whereas the higher education sector’s share (23.7%) declined by more than half. Furthermore, Türkiye falls behind most selected countries in terms of the government’s share (5.6%) in GERD. The percentage of total researchers employed in the business enterprise sector (61.8%) in Türkiye has significantly increased since 2000, while the share of both the higher education (4.2%) and government (34%) sectors in this employment has decreased by more than half. Business enterprise (private) R&D expenditure (BERD), which not only forms the largest share but also contributes significantly to Türkiye’s overall GERD increased from 1.5 billion dollars in 2000 to 21.1 billion dollars in 2021, with its share in GDP rising from 0.16% to 0.80% during the same period. Investments in R&D within the manufacturing industry play a crucial role both in the conversion of R&D investments into tangible, fruitful innovations and in advancing both Target 9.2 and Target 9.5 under SDG 9. The most recent data reveals that the manufacturing industry accounts for 57.1% of the total R&D expenditures within the business enterprise sector. Türkiye has the highest rate of BERD for the computer, electronics, and optics sector (14.7% in 2020) among high-tech industries such as pharmaceuticals and aerospace, compared to the chosen countries. However, Türkiye has one of the lowest market shares in the exports of these high-tech industries among the selected countries. Consequently, Türkiye consistently maintains a negative foreign trade balance for all of these sectors in the 2000-2020 period. The challenge lies in the complex process of transforming Türkiye’s consistent growth in R&D spending and the presence of highly qualified R&D professionals, in line with Target 9.5 of SDG 9, into enhanced productivity and expanded export shares in high-tech industries. This process involves effectively converting R&D investments into concrete and fruitful innovations. This transition can be monitored by examining indicators such as the number of patent applications per million inhabitants. In 2021, Türkiye had a mere 8.73 patent applications per million inhabitants submitted to the European Patent Office (EPO), while in the same period, the Netherlands had 375.18, Germany had 311.20, and Poland had 13.83 patent applications per million inhabitants. This data indicates that if we take R&D as a measure of knowledge input and patents as an indicator of knowledge output, as is often done in the literature, Türkiye faces difficulties in efficiently converting this input into tangible output.



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