Turkey

Istanbul

MEMBERS:
Istanbul Development Agency Presidency of the Republic of Turkey, Investment Office

The last decade has witnessed the rise of a resilient, attractive and rapidly evolving startup ecosystem in Istanbul. We believe that out of this dynamism Istanbul will emerge as a leading attraction spot for global technology startups.

Mustafa Varank
Minister of Industry and Technology, Turkey
Top 10 European Ecosystem: Affordable Talent
Top 20 Global Emerging Ecosystem: Talent & Experience
Top 10 Global Emerging Ecosystem: Funding

Highlights

Turkey has a population of 84 million as of 2021, of which half is under the age of 32, giving the country the largest youth population in the EU area. This young and digitally connected population makes Istanbul one of the best spots to test new ideas and products. Istanbul’s vibrant startup scene is coalescing around a host of support organizations, events, and successful entrepreneurs. There are over 80 active organizations supporting startups in Istanbul, including Plug and Play Istanbul, Endeavor and Galata Business Angels. The city hosts various events all year round. These events include Take-Off, a pitching competition for early-stage startups; TEKNOFEST, the world’s largest technology and aerospace festival and GAMING ISTANBUL, also known as GIST, which is an international game, e-sports and digital entertainment exhibit. VC-backed exits have given inspiration for both entrepreneurs and VC funds to invest in Istanbul’s startups, recognizing their ability to deliver outsized returns to investors. Success stories emerging from this community-minded startup hub include AI-powered digital marketing platform Insider, which raised $32 million from international investors last year and grocery delivery startup Getir, which raised its valuation to $7.5 billion with a $555 million round in June 2021. Hepsiburada, a fast-growing e-commerce startup, saw its market value hit more than $4.2 billion after becoming the first Turkish firm to be listed on NASDAQ. Turkish startups received nearly $1.3 billion investment in the first half of 2021, with Dream Games and Hepsiburada joining the billion-dollar league that already included Peak, Getir and Trendyol.

Ecosystem by the numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
$181 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$431 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
$4.1 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$10.5 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND
$150 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$494 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND
$0.55 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$2.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY
$18.2 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$42.1 k

Sub-sector Strengths

Gaming

WePlay Ventures plans to invest in more than 30 gaming startups with ambitions to grow globally. When U.S-based gaming giant Zynga bought Turkish mobile gaming company Peak for $1.8 billion in June 2020, the acquisition marked the birth of Turkey’s first unicorn. Dream Games raised $50 million Series A in March 2021 and $155 million Series B in June and with a valuation of $1 billion became Turkey’s latest unicorn.

AI, Big Data & Analytics

Turkey is the lead AI investor in the MEA region with a total investment amounting to $3.4 billion. Close to 200 AI startups have been founded in the last 5 years and the total funding size was $39 million in 2020. One of the most promising of these startups, Tarentum AI, has raised a total of $2.1 million in funding over 2 rounds.

Reasons to move your startup to Istanbul

Global Connections

With various accelerator programs and a wide range of events connecting the local players with the global entrepreneurial networks, the city is offering potential synergies for future collaborations. For entrepreneurs looking to expand their global footprint, Istanbul acts as a springboard to reach EMEA markets.

Tech Talent

Istanbul’s prominent universities, including Bogazici University, Istanbul Technical University and Yildiz Technical University, attract promising engineering talent and graduate around 55,000 STEM students annually. Affordable housing, status as an emerging startup ecosystem and a buzzing atmosphere mean that many graduates choose to make Istanbul their permanent home.

Tax Incentives

Turkey offers a comprehensive investment incentives program to help accelerate returns on R&D investments, including project based grants at a rate of upto 50%. Technoparks support R&D activities, attract investments in high-technology fields and offer incentives like corporate income tax exemption, employers’ share of social security premium support and employees’ income tax exemptions.

Get connected

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