Turkish home appliance giant forges startup co-op to elevate industry

Türkiye is renowned for being one of the world’s foremost manufacturers of home appliances, a reputation reaffirmed by the high interest shown in its brands during the world’s largest consumer electronics fair.

With a strong focus on research and development (R&D) and robust manufacturing capabilities, Türkiye has secured the second spot globally in white goods production, trailing only behind China.

Addressing the press at the IFA, the premier consumer electronics and home appliances trade show, Arçelik Türkiye’s general manager, Can Dinçer, emphasized the need for Turkish manufacturers to align with sustainability goals, particularly due to Europe being Türkiye’s largest market.

“We are producing an impressive number of goods, which is good news. However, the challenge lies in the significant gap between us and China. While they produce over 250 million units, we are in the range of 30-35 million. Is this sustainable success? Yes, it is. Why? Because all manufacturers are investing in R&D in Türkiye. We have branding skills,” said Dinçer.

However, he pointed out the considerable dependence on energy as one of the main issues contributing to Türkiye’s chronic current account deficit.

“We import our energy. Our sector tells a different story. Thanks to branded sales and R&D, we have a trade surplus. Our country has tremendous potential. We can capture a larger share than China. The Chinese government supports manufacturers. The white goods industry in Türkiye also deserves support on its path to branding. Dialogue with the sector and NGOs can pave the way. This is a sector with success stories spread across Türkiye,” Dinçer noted.

Startup-friendly company

The home appliance giant has partnered with Türk Telekom and Nokia on the 5G network at its factory, leading to projects featuring digital twin and robot technologies in collaboration with 15 startups.

Dinçer expressed Arçelik’s enthusiasm for working with startups, emphasizing that the company embraces agile working methods, fostering collaboration through joint project teams for product or technology development, as well as basic R&D activities.

He also highlighted ultimate goals, including joint commercialization or licensing agreements if the developed product or service proves successful.

“If a startup’s patent is believed to have the potential to create value in-house, we can collaborate through licensing agreements. Arçelik does not directly invest in startups. However, the company has partnerships with venture capital (VC) funds that invest in startups,” said Dinçer.

The home appliances arm of Türkiye’s biggest industrial conglomerate Koç Holding, Arçelik is among the stakeholders in 500EE, which invests in Eastern Europe and Türkiye, and the U.K.-based Hoxton VC.

“After partnering with Arçelik, these two funds made over 50 startup investments in Türkiye and Europe. Additionally, Arçelik is a stakeholder in the venture capital investment fund (VCIF) that has been established under Koç Holding and collaborates closely with relevant teams,” Dinçer said.

Arçelik is highly active in collaboration, he added. “For example, in 2022, the company was approached by over 1,800 startups worldwide, held discussions with over 340 startups, and facilitated partnerships with 130 startups across different departments.”

“In 2022, various business units at Arçelik collaborated with 40 startups and engaged in partnerships with 16 startups. For example, Arçelik actively collaborated with Khenda, a startup using artificial intelligence technology for operational improvement in manufacturing technology. Koç Holding VCIF also invested in this startup.”

15 ventures implementing 5G solutions

Under the patronage of the Ministry of Industry and Technology, in collaboration with the Presidency’s Investment Office, KOSGEB, TÜBITAK TÜSSIDE, Nokia, and Türk Telekom, the 5G@Endtech program has been launched in Türkiye.

This program aims to support startups that utilize 5G technology to develop high-value products/services and address real-life problems identified by Arçelik in a factory environment.

During the program, 15 startups had the opportunity to test their 5G technology solutions in Arçelik’s factory environment. Seven startups have been deemed successful, leading to ongoing collaboration activities. Currently, five active collaboration projects are in progress.

These projects include an autonomous drone with 5G connectivity capable of identifying security risks on campus, a robot using image processing to detect and report workplace health and safety issues, a 5G-enabled virtual factory tour robot, and industrial solutions that can perform predictive maintenance with 5G and/or replace traditional wired systems.


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