Istanbul – Silicon Valley 2.0

bwe7HSyTLYuJ7sEqQq7v_347Technology wonks are trading their lattes for hookahs, leaving the city by the bay for the Bosphorous.   Istanbul’s TeknoPark, a 950,000 square meter, 4 billion (USD) defense and aerospace commons, is targeted to open in January.  Scaled to accommodate 30,000 people, 1,000 top advanced technology companies and 18 universities, TeknoPark is latest in a series of initiatives seeking to advance Istanbul as the “defense and aerospace Silicon Valley” of the Near East.

Jointly developed by the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce and the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey’s sole defense procurement agency, shareholders seek to market their “Turkish model” to foreign investors.

Shareholders are enticing foreign companies to invest in Istanbul by offering tax incentives and exemptions.  According TR Defense’s Turkish Military and GeoPolitics Portal, “Resident companies’ research and development activity at Teknopark Istanbul will be exempt from corporate and income tax.  Similarly, software companies will be exempt from the value added tax.  Operating costs like power will also be supplied at major discounts.”

Targeted to be fully operational by 2023, TeknoPark is already home to several Bay Area transplants.  Among the businesses being wooed are SpeedNext, a telecommunications connectivity firm, InfoDif, a military and security sector people counting and object detection startup and Pozitron.

Pozitron, a leading mobile technology company who partners with IBM, Intel, Microsoft, MIT and Stanford University among others, provides services to such notable clients as the Qatar Islamic Bank and Europe’s fourth largest carrier, Turkish Airlines.

According to one Pozitron employee blog, transitioning from San Francisco to Istanbul has been somewhat seamless.  Blogger, Peri Kadaster, Head of Strategy and Marketing at Pozitron, was surprised to find Turkey had a “very young and increasingly educated population.”  Kadaster goes on to say, “There are many similarities between Istanbul and the Bay Area – every week there are countless happy hours, conferences, and other events. There is an energy that is palpable.”  In a separate post, Kadaster speaks glowingly of Istanbul’s driven “gender agnostic” culture, with its “absence of a focus on gender.”

This gender agnosticism found within the confines of TeknoPark is in stark contrast to the world outside of its friendly confines.  Outside of the TeknoPark walls reside 98 percent of the Turkish population who are Muslim–Muslims who adhere to the belief that women are property, who should be covered for the sake of modesty, who should be stoned if found committing adultery,  believers in female gential mutilation and honor killings.  Kadaster didn’t specify whether TeknoPark’s gender agnosticism applied to homosexuals.

Either TeknoPark’s useful transplants are either gleefully unaware of the intent of Islam, willing accomplices of social jihad or are so spellbound by their fantasy of a global utopia that they are blind to the Turkish prison that they are in.

With its abysmal rights record and historical intolerance of alternative lifestyles–Christian, Jewish or homosexual–Istanbul seems like an unlikely place to invest.  Why would foreign investors seek out Istanbul as the next epicenter of technological innovation rather than Minsk, Budapest or Munich?  Why did Istanbul get the works?  That’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

Leslie Deinhammer

Illinois PolitiChick Leslie Anne Deinhammer, writer, chaplain and proud wife of a Marine Corps veteran, writes on topics of politics, human rights and faith. Follow her at @lesliedhammer on Twitter.

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