TÜBİTAK President Prof. Hasan Mandal made statements regarding the BİGG programme, on TRT News. Mentioning that one of the most important topics of the time is the developments in the economy, Prof. Mandal remarked that reducing the account deficit is also a topic on the agenda at TÜBİTAK. Remarking that high technology products are needed in order to close Turkey's account deficit; the President of TÜBİTAK said “Turkey now needs to nationally produce high technology products itself. Turkey should be able to manage high technology through national processes, and should create the necessary qualified human resources in order to do so. This programme we have initiated aims to support our qualified human resources and entrepreneurs.” Prof. Mandal stated that calls were launched in a total of 6 fields; “Smart Transportation”, “Energy and Clean Technologies”, “Digital Transformation in Industry”, “Communication and Social Transformation”, “Health and Clean Living”, and “Sustainable Farming and Nutrition”. He underlined that young entrepreneurs can apply to any one of 30 implementing organisations authorised by TÜBİTAK in the mentioned fields.
A System Encompassing the Entire Process From İdea to Market
Stating that the BİGG Programme was prepared by technology transfer offices of universities, technocities, some banks and by a capital company for the first time, Prof. Hasan Mandal went on to say “The most important feature of our entrepreneurs is their innovative ideas. However, they encounter problems in turning their ideas into business plans. Therefore, in the first step, before starting the official TÜBİTAK application process, our entrepreneurial friends should be able to propose their business ideas through business plans. The 30 implementing organisations which we have determined for this purpose will guide our friends, help prepare their business plans and will follow up with the first stage evaluation. The successful entrepreneurs among them will come to TÜBİTAK and the entrepreuners who are successful in the final stage will receive a 100% grant in the amount of 200 thousand TRY.”
The President of TÜBİTAK stated that TÜBİTAK as a governmental institution did not carry out the entire process by itself while forming this ecosystem, that 30 organisations were chosen for the implementation of this programme and that entrepreneurs would be reached directly and more easily through these implementing organisations.
Stages of the BİGG Programme
Stating that the first stage of the BİGG Programme has started, Prof. Hasan Mandal said “At the first stage, entrepreneurs will apply to the implementing organisations and develop business plans by attending trainings prepared by the organisation. They will receive one-on-one mentoring and counseling. Afterward, their projects will be evaluated in panels composed of entrepreneurs and investors from the business world and academia selected by the implementing organisations. Successful projects will pass on to the second stage.” Indicating that candidates who pass on to the second stage will apply directly to TÜBİTAK, the President of TÜBİTAK stated “As TÜBİTAK, we will receive preliminary information from these implementing organisations regarding the success level of the candidates. Then, TÜBİTAK will conduct the evaluations, we plan to start this process in April.”
Prof. Hasan Mandal also stated that in the third and final stage of the BİGG Programme, candidates will receive grants in the amount of 200 thousand TRY as soon as they set up their firms, and that they hope to implement this stage in June.
How Will Projects be Selected
TÜBİTAK President Prof. Hasan Mandal stated that in order for entrepreneurs to apply to the BİGG Programme, the projects must be in one of the 6 specified fields. Prof. Mandal explained the important factors regarding the selection of projects with these words: “Firstly, the projects of the entrepreneurs must be in one of the 6 specified fields. These are fields which were chosen in consultation with stakeholders during the planning phase and fields which we think should be improved in order to close the current account deficit in our country. Factors such as how innovative the ideas presented by the entrepreneurs are, how their business plan is, whether their products can be commercialised and released into the market will be evaluated. Lastly, if the products are commercialised, a group will be formed to evaluate whether the project is feasible. Candidates who fit all of these criteria will be supported.”
Advice to Young Entrepreneurs
Stating that entrepreneurs have good ideas, however have a hard time converting their ideas into business plans, TÜBİTAK President advised: “Our advice is for them to apply to these implementing organisations, to attend personal and collective trainings and to ponder at every level “How much added value will I contribute to this country?”. Because we will be questioning the same thing on this side of the table. In the past we had a different evaluation mechanism, we said ‘As long as it’s a new idea, that’s enough’, but today we are also looking at whether these ideas will respond to the needs of our country.”
Stating that the final stage of the BİGG Programme will be in June, the President of TÜBİTAK stated that entrepreneurs will be awarded grants in the amount of 200 thousand TRY after they have set up firms. “We expect this resource (200 thousand TRY) to be used within 18 months and our entrepreneurs to convert their ideas into products within the framework of business plans. If they say ‘I’ve succeeded’, we tell them to apply to a second programme for which we grant 500 thousand TRY.” However, since after these stages our entrepreneurs fully become entrepreneurs in their own right we work with percentages. We cover 75% of 500 thousand TRY and expect them to cover the remaining 25%. These entrepreneurs in question will be able to work with big companies within the scope of our new programme, which in the ongoing process is called Industrial Innovation Network Mechanisms Programme-SAYEM. We can say that the BİGG Programme is actually a beginner programme for entrepreneurship.”
3323 Entrepreneurs Have Applied to the first BİGG Call
Stating that 3323 entrepreneurs have applied to the first call of the BİGG Programme launched in 2018, Prof. Hasan Mandal went on to say “The fact that in 6 months approximately 3000 entrepreneurs have applied to the thematic fields we have chosen, is the biggest assurance to have confidence in the future of this country and our youth. Our entrepreneurial candidates should not shy away from sharing their ideas with us. I want to reiterate that we take great pleasure in hearing their ideas no matter how out of the norm they are.”