More than 180 alumni joined President Alice Gast to discuss the future of Turkish innovation and entrepreneurship at a special virtual event.
“Imperial’s Turkish community is intelligent and resourceful and our Turkish students are very entrepreneurial.” Professor Alice Gast President of Imperial College London
President Gast hosted a panel discussion comprising Imperial alumni Bülent Eczacibasi (BSc Chemistry 1972) and Humphry Hatton (BEng Metallurgy and Materials Science 1984), Partner at Deloitte Global, and Imperial academic Dr Firat Güder, from the Department of Bioengineering.
Opening the event, President Gast said: “Our collaborations make Imperial a powerhouse in research, education and innovation.
“We have strong connections with Turkey, including important research collaborations, growing numbers of Turkish staff and students, and we have a very large and very talented alumni base around the world.
“Imperial’s Turkish community is intelligent and resourceful and our Turkish students are very entrepreneurial.”
The future of Turkish innovation
“Solving the world’s problems depends on our success in innovation.” Mr Bülent Eczacibasi Chairman of Eczacibasi Holding
Mr Bülent Eczacibasi, the Chairman of Eczacibasi Holding, spoke about his time at Imperial and gave his thoughts on how Turkey can harness innovation more effectively.
Mr Eczacibasi said: “I believe the future of any nation depends on their skills and the resources they have to innovate.
“The more we do for innovation the more effectively we will serve our companies, communities and countries.
“Solving the world’s problems depends on our success in innovation, because innovation has now become a driver of sustainability. I do think this is our greatest hope for the future.”
Mr Eczacibasi added: “When we look at the level of innovation in Turkey I don’t think we are where we should be. I do hope Turkey’s entrepreneurial spirit will sooner or later vitalise the innovation environment and industry will become more innovative.
“There’s a lot we can learn from British universities, such as Imperial, because Britain ranks highly in world innovation rankings.
“We need to have an industrial strategy, which is connected to an innovation strategy.”
“We use the technologies developed in my lab to address some of the biggest challenges in the world.” Dr Firat Güder Department of Bionengineering
Dr Güder, who is one of Imperial’s Turkish academics, is currently researching innovative sensors for use in healthcare, agricultural and food sciences. His group recently developed a PCR test for infectious diseases, such as COVID-19.
Dr Güder, said: “Four years ago we started to try to develop truly low cost technologies and then the Covid pandemic happened and we repurposed the technology for that.
“We use the technologies developed in my lab to address some of the biggest challenges in the world such as detecting infections, reducing food waste, and improving environmental sustainability.
“We would like to see ideas go from basic prototypes to systems and ideas that generate societal impact.”
Mr Hatton said: “You cannot fail to notice Turkey’s strong entrepreneurial culture, particularly in Istanbul. However, there is still work to be done, and universities and business aren’t as close as they are perhaps in the US, or at Imperial.”
Imperial and Turkey: Research collaborations
Imperial has more than 80 Turkish students, a number which is growing, and 20 research staff.
Imperial collaborates with many partners in Turkey and in the last five years Imperial academics have published more than 450 publications with Turkish collaborators.
Some of research projects with Turkish collaborators include a project looking at the feasibility of transforming Istanbul taxis into electric vehicles.
Imperial is also working with Middle Eastern Technical University on a carbon storage project.