Organised by UNDP Turkey first time this year and aiming to foster the innovation ecosystem and enhance innovativeness in product design in Cukurova region, the Design Cukurova Challenge has been finalised.

Focusing on “Food, Agriculture, Packaging and Logistics Value Chain” as the prominent production domain of the regional economy, the challenge drew teams that pursued “innovative and sustainable solutions in food packaging for end consumers and exports”. Kuruya captured the first place by its project on multi-functional and multiple reuse of recyclable corrugated cardboard packaging.

Under the Job Creation Component of the Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP) implemented jointly with the T.R. Ministry of Industry and Technology with funding from the European Union (EU), Adana and Mersin Innovation Centres continue to support the innovation and manufacturing ecosystem in Cukurova Region in line with the job creation objective.

Organised by Adana and Mersin Innovation Centres that aim to promote sustainable development by strengthening the innovation capacities of enterprises and entrepreneurs through transformation based on high technology, R&D and innovation in the manufacturing industry and create employment, the Design Cukurova Challenge has been finalised today. Ms. Seher Alacacı Arıner, UNDP Turkey Assistant Resident Representative for Programmes, said in her opening remarks:

“It is obvious that innovation is a significant instrument, even a modus operandi, to create strong economies of high added value. In this context, we endeavour to produce tangible outputs in innovation and productivity, as the two core areas of economic development, by establishing Innovation Centres and Model Factories in Adana and Mersin in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Technology and cash and in-kind contributions by our local stakeholders.”

Ms. Ezgi Arslan, UNDP Projects Coordinator, said:

“Humanitarian crises over the years, and the pandemic currently, have enabled us to re-grasp the importance of economic resilience. It is time to ask ourselves whether we will regain our resilience by integrating incoming migrant communities, enlisting their contributions and through innovation.”

The Design Cukurova Challenge as a contest to increase innovation capacities in product design of enterprises in the ecosystem targeting various prominent sectors in Cukurova Region was organised jointly by Adana Chamber of Industry (ADASO), Mersin Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MTSO), Mersin-Tarsus Organized Industry Zone (OSB) and Cukurova Development Agency (CKA). The first challenge held this year focused on innovative sustainable packaging solutions that would benefit exports and consumers in the agri-food value chain in Cukurova.

Following a comprehensive screening and selection process, the winners have been announced. Kuruya captured the first place by its project on recyclable corrugated cardboard packaging; ba’ the second place by its sustainable packaging project designed for snacks made of walnuts, molasse and sesame; and Bite the third for its innovative and sustainable packaging design project for citrus fruits produced in Adana and Mersin.


A three-month-long marathon of ideas, products and innovation

The challenge process started on 28 July 2020 with two workshops held to identify design problems and needs in sectors where particularly SMEs operated. A field study employing human-centred design research methodologies identified the actual design problems of enterprises in all sectors of the region, with the participation of enterprises operating in the manufacturing industry in Adana and Mersin. Then, 10 teams comprised of designers, engineers, material scientists and entrepreneurs looked for solutions to such problems identified. With nation-wide participation, the Design Cukurova Challenge aimed to bring together problem-solvers and solution-seeking enterprises in the Cukurova ecosystem.

Through the challenge organised as a three-month-long marathon, ideas were screened twice and 10 finalists were included in the stage of project acceleration, scaling and project development, and made into operating prototypes ready for production. Applications were received from across Turkey by 30 October 2020, and the initial Jury Evaluation on 2-4 November identified 10 projects/teams as winners of Development Prize which/who later participated in the Design Sprint on 7-8 November guided by subject-matter expert mentors in their development journey.

At the second stage, the finalist teams engaged in work to develop their ideas and prototypes into an operating prototype and final product. The prototyping stage held on 23-28 November 2020 used the FabLabs of Adana and Mersin Innovation Centres made available for the first time to the contestant teams under the infrastructure provision services.

Following the third stage, i.e. prototyping, the final evaluation was held on 15-18 December 2020.

The Challenge Jury included UNDP Projects Coordinator Ezgi Arslan, ADASO Secretary-General Bora Kocaman, MTOSB Regional Director Halil Yılmaz, MTSO Board Member and Dondurmacı Halil CEO Halil Kürek, Cukurova Development Agency Secretary-General Savaş Ülger, West Black Sea Development Agency Secretary-General Dr. Lütfi Altınsu, Sunar Companies CEO Hasan Abdullah Özkan, METU Industrial Products Design Department Vice-Chair Fatma Korkut, WDO Board Member Sertaç Ersayın, Proda Founder and Design Leader Aydın Öztoprak, Atılım University Faculty of Fine Arts Design and Architecture Vice-Dean and Industrial Products Design Department Chair Bülent Ünal, METU Design Factory Specialist Müge Kruşa Yemişçioğlu, Board President of Flexible Packaging Industrialists Association Fahri Özer, Communications Director of Metal Packaging Industrialists Association Sadi Beceren, Yıldız Holding Packaging Development Director Roza Altın, PwC Director Etkin Çiftçi and UNDP Innovation Center Consultant Pelin Durtaş.


Adana, Mersin and Izmir Innovation Centres

Adana and Mersin Innovation Centres, established under the Job Creation Component of the Turkey Resilience Project in Response to the Syria Crisis (TRP), along with Izmir Innovation Centre launched in the Izmir part of the project, aim to support innovation and branding processes of SMEs and entrepreneurs, strengthen local economies, help transform the industry locally and nationally, promote employment opportunities, thus eventually contribute to sustainable development. Izmir, Adana and Mersin Innovation Centres have already organized many training sessions, seminars, workshops and certification programmes, and continues to promote the ecosystem and innovative ideas through such challenges as Design Cukurova in addition to their regular services.

Under the project, Adana Start-up Weekend was organized last year that brough together many participants of Syrian refugees and host communities, expert mentors and angel investors, enabling participants to present their ideas of enterprise and business development, and emerging innovative and feasible business ideas were awarded. Izmir Hackathon, held last year to search for innovative and sustainable solutions to urban transport, brought together many original software developers and designers, and the ideas selected by the jury were awarded various prizes.

Please click here to watch the Design Cukurova Challenge Award Ceremony.


For more information:

UNDP Turkey Head of Communications, Dr. Faik Uyanık,

UNDP Turkey Syria Crisis and Resilience Response Portfolio Communications Officer, Ruşen İnceoğlu,

Icon of SDG 09 Icon of SDG 10

UNDP Around the world

You are at UNDP Turkey 
Go to UNDP Global