ISTANBUL DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (ISTKA)
Istanbul Development Agency, as a public institution working under the coordination of the Turkish Ministry of Industry and Technology, is dedicated to build and support Istanbul’s entrepreneurship ecosystems in addition to promote Istanbul as a world-class destination for innovation and creativity-focused entrepreneurs and high-tech investors.
START ISTANBUL: MORE THAN A CITY!
Serving as a main gate to not only Türkiye but also to Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Middle East and Africa, Istanbul is globally unique city, offering a wealth of possibilities and opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors via many innovative sectors, including embedded knowledge-based, value-added clusters. The city provides an advanced support network to facilitate startup-related bureaucratic and legal procedures in addition to a variety of advantages such as a vibrant startup culture, top ranked universities, a young and dynamic population, incubation centers, acceleration programs, angel investment networks, venture capital funds and a large potential market. With all its top-tier services and opportunities, Istanbul currently is a center of attraction where entrepreneurship and innovation activities are triggered.
Since its foundation in 2008, Istanbul Development Agency has worked with a wide community of local, national and international stakeholders to build this inclusive, entrepreneur-driven and impactful innovation system. Having its roots in early 2000s, a comprehensive and vibrant startup ecosystem began to flourish in Istanbul since early 2010s and the ecosystem has now reached a high level of maturity due to intentional and continuous financial technical supports provided by Istanbul Development Agency. With more than 80 active organizations supporting startups, including Plug and Play Istanbul and Endeavor, Istanbul also hosts various startups events, including pitching competition Take-Off, aerospace festival Teknofest, and international gaming exhibit Gaming Istanbul.
Istanbul Development Agency currently runs “Start in Istanbul”, a comprehensive and multi-dimensional entrepreneurship strategy to attract, retain and support entrepreneurs to start, grow and go global in Istanbul. Istanbul Development Agency has been extending and upscaling Istanbul’s entrepreneurship ecosystem thorough its regular grant programs implemented since early 2010s. ISTKA serves entrepreneurs and investors to initiate and complete essential steps for setting and running startups or companies in Istanbul as well as guiding them about government incentives. ISTKA is working on a startup visa model and a “soft-landing” program for our incoming entrepreneurs. As a regional development agency ISTKA also coordinates and facilitates cooperation between ecosystem actors and with other global ecosystems. ISTKA works with global startup policy consulting and mapping firms such as Startup Genome and Startup Blink to promote Istanbul as a unique startup ecosystem.
Istanbul has recently witnessed rise of venture capital funds and angel investment networks enabling inovative startups to emerge and grow. Successful startup stories (such as Yemeksepeti, Gittigidiyor and Markafoni) have not only increased the competitive standard in the ecosystem, but also acted as role models to a new generation of entrepreneurs while paving the way for a new wave of successful and sustainable business models. Amongst 2021 exits, online shopping company Hepsiburada took the lead with its $761 million exit via a secondary transaction on a NASDAQ IPO. Since Peak Games became the country’s first unicorn in 2020, the country has gained five more. One of them, Trendyol, raised an additional $1.85 billion in 2021, becoming Turkey’s first decacorn. Grocery delivery startup Getir has become “the hottest new idea in online retail,” according to the Financial Times. It was the country’s second decacorn. AI-powered digital marketing platform Insider is the latest addition to the unicorn club.
With a perspective to enhance access to risk finance for startups and scaleups in Istanbul ISTKA recently also started to engage with Venture Capital funds as Limited Partner to attract global investors and to grow local VS funds. Istanbul Development Agency’s $30 million regional venture capital fund therefore expands funding opportunities to support innovationbased companies, which have a potential to grow rapidly and create added value, financially in commercialization process of their products and technologies.
CES 2023 ISTANBUL PAVILION
Istanbul Development Agency helps Turkish technology startups grow and go global by taking them into prestigious global startup or tech events such as Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. ISTKA established first “İstanbul Pavilion” in CES2022, accommodating 28 Turkish startups. CES2023 İstanbul Pavilion will be hosting more than 50 Turkish startups, which have been selected through a very competitive “call for proposals” stage.