Early stage startups will fly with the support of Sabancı ARF


Sabancı Group, which focuses on investing in innovation and technology in the 'New Economy' as part of its growth strategy, has launched the Sabancı ARF (Almost Ready to Fly) program. This program aims to support the startup ecosystem and encourage innovation by providing mentorship, cooperation, and investment to early-stage startups from within and outside the Group.

During the first implementation period of Sabancı ARF, 14 startups completed orientation processes and commenced training and mentoring programs in an area specially prepared for the 20-week process at the Sabancı Center, the headquarters of Sabancı Holding in İstanbul. Startups will have the opportunity to present their projects to the Investment Jury on the final day of said process, which will take place in March 2023. Startups that receive a positive evaluation will be eligible for a Sabancı ARF seed investment of up to $150,000.

"Every startup needs the right support to fly"

Speaking at the press conference on this subject, Sabancı Holding CEO Cenk Alper announced that Sabancı Group has classified energy and climate technologies, advanced material technologies, and digital technologies, all of which are part of the 'new economy.' Mr. Alper emphasized that the 'new economy' is absolutely central to Sabancı's sustainability and digital roadmap, stating: "While we plan 25% of our investments to protect and grow our core businesses, we allocate 75% of our investments to the 'new economy.' In this context, we are implementing important investment actions within our Holding and Group companies." 

He added that at Sabancı Group, technology and innovation, which are seen widely as the most powerful accelerators of growth, create value for all stakeholders. Mr. Alper also highlighted the importance of ideas in driving investment, saying: "Financing is an important pillar of transformation in the world, but the institutions that have sufficient financial resources are now looking for the right ideas. Therefore, today's main focus is not money or financing but ideas. If we successfully develop good ideas, it makes sense that companies with financial resources will pursue these ideas. I believe the Sabancı ARF is a great example of this perspective. The Sabancı Center, with Sabancı ARF, will provide space for the right projects to grow and flourish, turning the right ideas into value for our country and the world.” Mr. Alper continues: "Every startup is born with its own wings, but it needs the right support to fly. The name 'Sabancı ARF Almost Ready to Fly' reflects this approach. With Sabancı ARF, we offer a platform, connections, mentorship, and financial support to all our startups, both within and outside the Group, to help them develop their ideas in order to be successful. We believe that early-stage startups will fly with the support of Sabancı ARF.”

"Sabancı ARF: an open innovation and startup acceleration platform"

"Innovation is a key concept for Sabancı Holding," said Gökhan Eyigün, President of the Strategy and Business Development Group. He added: "Financial investments alone are not enough to drive innovation. We need to cultivate a culture of innovation within the Group and develop a process for turning ideas into value. To this end, we have three main business development and innovation processes that align with our strategic priorities. The first is to conduct mergers and acquisitions as a portfolio-management group. The second is our corporate venture capital fund, Sabancı Ventures, which makes minority investments in startups at a certain stage in our strategic focus areas. The third is our agile business development program called X-teams. Now, we are adding Sabancı ARF, the fourth piece of this puzzle, to these three. Sabancı ARF is a multidimensional perspective that will complement our business development and innovation processes. It is an open innovation and startup acceleration platform that will support early-stage startups and help them expand their customer and stakeholder base. In summary, there are many important elements from 'idea to value,' and Sabancı ARF now constitutes a crucial part of this process.”

Group employees will be able to return to their jobs without any loss

Gökhan Eyigün stated that Sabancı ARF has achieved a first in Turkey. He said: "We have implemented a model, especially for our intra-Group entrepreneurs, that has not been used in Turkey before. Regardless of which Group company they work for, we have provided them with the opportunity to pursue their dreams and projects without fully leaving their jobs. Employees from Sabancı Group companies who apply to Sabancı ARF can take a break from their jobs at the Group and focus solely on their business ideas for 20 weeks while still protecting their personal rights. Subsequently, they will become the main shareholders of the companies formed from their ideas. Those who do not want to continue with their projects will be able to return to the company they worked for without losing personal rights or career advancement opportunities. This right has not been offered in the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Turkey until now, and I would like to emphasize this point specifically."