Introduction

On October 22, 2020, the new Regulation on Turkey Health Institutions Department Project Support Programs (“Regulation”) was published in the Official Gazette. You can see this here (Available in Turkish only). The Regulation determined the rules and procedures regarding the application, evaluation, support, promotion, monitoring and finalization of research and development (“R&D”) projects in health science and technologies that can be financially supported by the Turkey Health Institutions Department (“TUSEB”).

A Brief Background on the Institution

The TUSEB, which has scientific and administrative autonomy, was established in 2015 aiming to conduct scientific research, support new developments in the field of health science and technology and raise awareness about intellectual property rights.

Scope of the Regulation

As per the Regulation, the type of the projects that may be funded by TUSEB are as follows:

(i) R&D Support Projects: Any project providing scientific and technological development.

(ii) Urgent R&D Support Projects: Projects that are urgent, short-term, small-budget and always open to application.

(iii) Priority R&D Support Projects: Projects that the Board of Directors or the Chairman of TUSEB have determined as priorities.

(iv) International R&D Support Projects: Studies carried out in cooperation with international organizations through bilateral or multilateral international agreements.

If projects that meet the requirements above are found suitable after evaluation by the TUSEB, the project owner may be entitled to receive financial support in accordance with the financial provisions specified in the relevant articles of the Regulation.

However, it is important to note that project managers or TUSEB coordinators are required to submit development reports to ensure that projects remain in line with the objectives determined by the TUSEB. Furthermore, the Regulation not only authorizes the TUSEB to initiate new project support programs, but also entitles the Department to amend, remove and/or merge ongoing project support programs.

Intellectual Property Rights

Within the scope of intellectual and industrial property rights, the Regulation stipulates that all intellectual property rights arising as a result of funded projects will belong to the TUSEB unless otherwise agreed in the relevant project agreement.

However, intellectual property rights ownership in projects conducted by private institutions belong to the legal entity in whatever proportion is determined by the relevant private institution.

Conclusion

The Regulation is a positive development for the Turkish health sector, encouraging young scientists, entrepreneurs, and institutions to innovate. As a result, there is greater potential for the number of effective health technology projects to increase in the long term. Furthermore, although the articles on Urgent R&D Support Projects are not specifically regulated, there is also the possibility to provide rapid support for innovative and urgent projects within the scope of the Regulation. One of the most significant aspects of the Regulation is that it may meet the financial needs of locally developed innovative health technologies, particularly those that have emerged during the COVID-19 period.

However, the Regulation also has some drawbacks. Firstly, the time limitation set in the event of a project requiring an extension may cause several challenges. Secondly, the provisions on the TUSEB's discretion in cancelling a project and its right to request the return of funding with interest in the event of private institutions cancelling a project, may lead entrepreneurs to hesitate when applying for the fund. In conclusion, we are of the opinion that these uncertainties may eventually become an obstacle to the improvements the Regulation seeks to achieve.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.