Consul General Scott Kilner's Remarks at GEP Award Ceremony
May 30, 2012
It is my pleasure to be here this evening on behalf of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Turkey as we recognize the winners of the “best of the best” Turkish startups.
This week’s visit of the Entrepreneurship Delegation of American and Turkish investors has highlighted once again the strength of the U.S.-Turkey partnership in promoting entrepreneurship. The level of enthusiasm and energy that has surrounded this competition has put the dynamism of Turkey’s entrepreneurs into high relief, exemplified by those being honored here this evening.
In his first trip overseas, President Obama came to Turkey and set out the purposes of U.S.-Turkish diplomacy. In so doing, he called for the elevation of our economic and commercial relations to the same strategic level we enjoy in our political and security relations.
The support for entrepreneurship has been a key part of that new relationship, and the stories of these winning start-ups – as well as of the other able competitors – is a clear indication that we have cause for optimism.
I would like to express our appreciation to the active partners in the Global Entrepreneurship Program -- or G.E.P. -- which we celebrate tonight along with the winners of this innovative competition.
Last June, Ambassador Ricciardone and Mr. Hisarcıklıoglu signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the terms of our cooperation in GEP and establishing a GEP Entrepreneur-in-Residence here in Turkey, in cooperation with the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.
Within one year, our GEP program managers have brought together entrepreneurs from business plan competitions all over Turkey in this "best of the best" competition. This kind of hard work will have concrete results for our economies.
And our governments have been busy with other initiatives to support entrepreneurship. At Prime Minister Erdogan’s invitation, last December U.S. Vice President Joe Biden led a large U.S. Government delegation to Turkey’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Istanbul. This Summit was the follow-on to the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship hosted by President Obama in Washington in 2010.
The resounding success of the Istanbul Entrepreneurship Summit showed that entrepreneurship in Turkey has crossed a critical threshold. Equally importantly, Turkey’s commitment to strengthening its innovation sector is an important example for the region, as countries in the Middle East and beyond look for ways to develop the economic prosperity that will underpin lasting political stability.
So, our governments have not been idle, but, as we all recognize, it is new ideas and the companies that market them that create jobs. The Entrepreneurship Delegation’s visit hits directly on what will enable our two countries to grow our economies together -- by identifying today the innovations of tomorrow.
The Delegation -- composed of both U.S. and Turkish investors -- has assessed the many interesting business ideas of the competition’s participants. This will result in stronger connections between U.S. and Turkish investors and entrepreneurs leading, we hope, to new capital to help entrepreneurs turn new ideas into new businesses.
Entrepreneurs like the ones we celebrate tonight – entrepreneurs with creativity and drive who also know how to find the financing they need – will succeed in this fast-changing global economy. They are the agents of change that will unleash new potential, help build new markets, and fortify relationships between our countries. I enthusiastically applaud them, and extend to them our heartfelt congratulations.