Recent developments in science and technology hailed the onset of a new era, “The Information Age” which opens up new horizons and offers prospects for the development of a “Knowledge-based economy and society.” Considering the distinct possibilities, this era placed within the reach of humanity, Turkey, too, is about to face new challenges by ever-expanding technological capabilities in terms of both equipment and highly-skilled manpower. Therefore, it is universally admitted that Turkish economic and political structures will have to invest more in qualified human resources and R&D during the coming years in order to be effective and competitive worldwide. Also, the lack of qualified personnel who can design and implement science and technology policies/strategies is a major concern for public organizations and leading private companies since it is a paramount need for carrying out the multi-dimensional tasks that are demanded by the information society. This requires an ability to formulate relevant policies for furthering research and expanding domestic scientific and technological capabilities in response to universal developments.
Moreover, “research” recently started to play an important role in the general policy agenda of Turkey. The current Government takes steps to increase research and development (R&D) expenditures and develop a sound research base. In 2005, the Government allocated 733 million euros for R&D activities of the public and private sectors. It was the first time that resources had been allocated in the national budget for research. The total amount is considered the highest level of money allocated for R&D by the Government in one year. In line with the commitment of the Government to gradually increase public funds for R&D, 802 million euros has been allocated in 2006 to support R&D activities.
On the other hand, stimulating R&D in the private and public sectors has always been an integral part of the five-year development plans. The Ninth Five-Year Development Plan (2007-2013) issued in the Official Gazette in July 2006 highlights the importance of R&D under the strategic objective of “increasing the competitiveness” to contribute to the economic and social development of Turkey.
In an aim to cover all the above issues, METU – TEKPOL was founded on 1 January 1997 at the Middle East Technical University.