Turkish enterprise launches in Cambridge to target tech collaborations

Itunova Erenn Ore

Cambridge has been identified as a platform to facilitate collaborations between technology businesses, academic and research organisations in Turkey and the UK.

St John’s Innovation Centre is the launchpad for the initiative via Cambridge University alumnus Erenn Ore who is the UK office executive for Istanbul Technical University, Ari Teknokent & Hunova. 

A number of exciting Turkish technology startups are expected to set up operations in the UK as part of the enterprise.

Erenn Ore (above) previously worked as a nanotech and renewable energy consultant and as a business development officer at a US-based VC firm specialising in the commercialisation of early stage innovations in the energy economy. 

He carried out his doctorate studies in nanotechnology with a focus on solar cells at the Department of Engineering at Cambridge University where he also worked as a postdoctoral research assistant. His Masters thesis was in molecular electronics, which he conducted at the Cavendish Laboratory. He also  studied Management of Technology & Innovation at the Cambridge Judge Business School as part of his MPhil degree.

Within the Istanbul Technical University (ITU), Itunova and Ari Teknokent together form one of the largest technology clusters in Turkey; it includes over 250 R & D companies with more than 6,000 employees, and generates around $0.9 billion in exports annually.

Erenn said the key activities for the UK office of Itunova and Ari Teknokent were planned to be:- 

  • Exposing promising Turkish startups from the Itunova and Teknopark to British investment as well as to UK accelerator/incubator programmes
  • Increasing the number of licences for its patent portfolio, including investigating cross-licensing opportunities
  • Forming collaborations between ITU and the leading British institutions on entrepreneurship, technology commercialisation and academic research. 

He told Business Weekly: “At Itunova, and Teknokent, we are flexible in our approach to investment, technology transfer and research collaboration. Our other strength is that we have a large inflow of entrepreneurs and startups within the Itunova and Teknopark technology cluster through our various entrepreneurship programmes. 

“We would like to expose some of our best performing technology startups with a global market potential to British investors and the UK marketplace. This would include relocating them to the UK.

“We are already running a programme which involves bringing promising Turkish technology startups – usually with $1m-$5 million sales turnover – into contact with the US market and investors. This is done through our ITU Gate international accelerator programme.

“From over 300 startups that apply annually, 20 are admitted to the first part of the ITU Gate programme in Turkey and then the six to eight best ones are sent to the final leg of the programme at our US offices in Chicago and San Francisco.

“For budding entrepreneurs with their ideas at the scientific discovery/ initial concept stage, we run the ITU Seed (Çekirdek in Turkish) programme at our early stage incubator facility of 800 m2 office/lab space.

“For this year’s programme, about 9,000 applications across Turkey were received. The number of applications was narrowed down through various jury processes culminating in a final Big Bang event which saw well over $2m seed capital awarded to the best entrepreneurs in addition to free office space at the Technology Park. Through ITU Seed, annually, over 30 start-ups are established.

“In addition, we have the brand new ITU Magnet advanced entrepreneurship centre with 2500 m2 lab/ office space, which functions as an incubator for technology startups that have already secured seed funding. The best startups coming through ITU Seed and ITU Magnet will be the leading candidates for relocation to the UK.”

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