Cablegate: Scenesetter for Science Envoy Dr. Zewail


DE RUEHAK #0022/01 0070921
P 070921Z JAN 10



STATE FOR OES/STC: William Lawrence
STATE please pass to OSTP: Jason Rao

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Scenesetter for Science Envoy Dr. Zewail


1. (SBU) While U.S. and Turkish entities collaborate in several
areas of science and technology, both sides see room for and benefit
to expanding collaboration. The Turks are particularly interested
in results-oriented partnerships that can spur economic development.
Currently, the strongest areas of USG S&T collaboration in Turkey
are in earth sciences, energy, and support of academic exchanges and


2. (SBU) You should raise the following points during your

--Applaud Turkey's strong commitment to R&D and the increased grant
funding and incentives the GOT has put in place over the past
several years. (paras 4-5)

--The U.S. is committed to expanding S&T collaboration with Turkey,
building on the base of existing governmental, academic, and private
sector cooperation. (para 6-9)

--Venture capital funds and other infrastructure are vital to
commercializing research results. Given the strength of the U.S.
venture capital and intellectual-property-rights development system,
this is an area ripe for bilateral cooperation. (para 9)


3. (SBU) The Turks are like to raise the following points:

--How can Turkey benefit from the promise of President Obama's Cairo
speech? What specific programs and funding can you offer? (para 4)

--Requests for getting a Turkish astronaut into space (there are no
spaces left on any of the remaining space shuttle flights before the
program ends). (para 6)

--How can we collaborate to improve the link between scientific
research and economic development? (paras 4-5)

--While all the representatives you will meet will look to you for
ideas, some will also present specific suggestions for programs and

Turkish Government Committed to R&D Support

4. (SBU) The Turks are very interested in expanding collaboration
with the U.S. in science and technology. Staff at the Scientific
and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) particularly
noted President Obama's comments in Cairo about establishing centers
of excellence and developing the R&D-innovation-commercialization
cycle. As TUBITAK Vice President Dr. Omar Anlagan recently told us,
Turkey seeks to build a science and technology relation with the
U.S. that yields "solid results."

5. (U) In 2005, the government of Turkey (GOT) decided to increase
its research and development spending in order to improve
productivity and reduce the trade deficit. It set a target of two
percent of GDP for R&D funding by 2015. After four years of
progress toward that goal, the government has now moved the target
date up to 2013. GOT funding is distributed by the Scientific and
Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) to both academics
and the private sector, foreign or domestic. The GOT also provides
tax incentives for companies who engage in R&D in one of several
"technoparks," usually located near universities. In 2008 the
government extended these incentives to companies outside the
technoparks that have more than 50 employees in their R&D
departments. Partially as a result of these GOT measures, the R&D
landscape in Turkey has been changing over the past several years,
such that the private sector recently surpassed academia in the
level of R&D expenditures.

USG Collaboration

6. (SBU) U.S. government agencies and universities collaborate with
Turkish agencies, universities, and private companies in several
areas. In recent years, representatives from CDC, NIH, USGS, NOAA,
NASA, EPA, NSF, and the Department of Energy (DOE) have visited
Turkey to provide training or technical assistance or participate in
conferences. Other key treaties, programs, and fields of interest
include the following:

--S&T Agreement: We signed a scientific and technical cooperation
agreement with Turkey in 1994 and extended it in 1999. The

extension has expired, however, and we are currently negotiating a
new agreement.

--Earth Sciences: Under the "Agreement concerning the closure of
Belbasi installation and the activation of a new seismic research
station," the USGS provides the GOT with seismographic equipment and
limited technical assistance related to the equipment. The USGS
also cooperates with Bogazaci University on seismic research and in
2002 signed a "Memorandum of understanding concerning scientific and
technical cooperation in the earth sciences" with the Turkish
Ministry of Public Works and Settlement.

--Space Programs: As a result of PM Erdogan's recent meeting with
President Obama and a request from President Gul, NASA is exploring
possibilities for cooperation on space programs. It is unlikely,
however, that the Turks will be able to participate in a space
shuttle mission as NASA informs us that there are no spaces left on
any of the remaining flights before the program ends.

--Clean Energy: Another potential area for expanding cooperation is
clean energy. This is an area of strong interest for the Turks, as
their national energy strategy sets an ambitious goal of meeting 30
percent of power demand through renewable sources by 2023. DOE is
actively working to maintain and expand its collaboration with
Turkey. In June DOE will hold a regional conference on energy
efficiency in Istanbul. DOE also has drafted a proposal for a
"partnership for energy innovation," which aims to provide a
sustained mechanism for enhanced cooperation on clean energy
technologies and energy efficiency and highlight Turkey's ability to
serve as a regional model for energy innovation. DOE cannot fund
the initiative at this time, however, and so has not formally
proposed it to the GOT.

Academic Exchanges and Partnerships

7. (U) Although information on programs specific to science and
technology is limited, student exchanges and academic partnerships
between Turkey and the U.S. are generally strong. The Fulbright
program budget has increased fivefold over the past six years, most
recently with a $1 million increase (50 percent from the Turkish
Ministry of Education, 50 percent from the USG). The program
presently supports over 200 student and faculty exchanges annually
as well as educational advising services and small support grants to
needy students applying for U.S. university-based scholarships.

8. (SBU) The number of Turkish students attending U.S. institutions
increased 10 percent to 13,000 for the 2008-2009 school year,
ranking Turkey 8th among countries of origin. The GOT provides 1000
scholarships a year to masters and doctorate students to study
abroad. According to TUBITAK VP Anlagan, the majority of the
recipients choose to attend U.S. universities, to the extent that
other countries have asked the GOT to intervene to sway recipients'
choices, which the GOT will not do. Nearly 200 U.S. colleges and
universities have partnerships and exchange programs with Turkish
universities. A science-specific example is the Selcuk University
(Konya)/Montana State University dual-degree program in engineering,
which began several years ago. The program receives tangential
support from the USG as the students who are about to go on the U.S.
segment of the program receive English instruction from a USG-funded
English teaching assistant at the university. The State University
of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo and the SUNY Maritime College also
have degree programs in engineering with Istanbul Technical
University and Izmir Economics University.

Commercialization and Venture Capital

9. (SBU) One missing ingredient in the Turkish R&D cycle is the lack
of infrastructure to commercialize new products or ideas. There are
almost no venture capital funds operating in Turkey. Very few
Turkish researchers have commercialized their discoveries in Turkey.
Given the strength of the U.S. venture capital and
intellectual-property-rights development system, this is an area
ripe for bilateral cooperation and would be a direct follow up to
President Obama's comments in Cairo about developing the
R&D-innovation-commercialization cycle.


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