HIGH VALUE-ADDED INDUSTRIES
SECTOR IN COSTA RICA
With an ongoing effort to broaden the scope of its supply of goods and services, Costa Rica has also focused on introducing technology solutions in its productive scheme for higher value-added industries.
As a matter of fact, biotechnology, medical devices and biotechnology in agriculture sectors promise a great potential for achieving this goal.
The country has evolved over the years from producing Class I to Class III medical devices including aesthetics, cardiovascular, dental, endoscopy, medication delivery systems, neuro-endovascular, neuro-modulation, optics, orthopedics/sport medicine/ENT & surgical/ diagnostics components; which now serve markets in America, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Costa Rica is now the second largest exporter of Medical Devices in Latin America and among the top 7 suppliers to the US market.
“Costa Rica has emerged as a leading location globally, outside of Europe, for MedTech investment, attracting 47 MedTech projects over a ve-year period including 18 in 2012, and ranking 7th globally in terms of the number of manufacturing projects ahead of the Netherlands, Brazil and Mexico, between 2008 and 2012.” (MEDTECH REPORT 2014 – Oxford Intelligence)
Costa Rica has strong capabilities when it comes to pharmaceutical products manufacturing; from drug testing & trials, to manufacturing and packaging. Local CMOs have vast experience producing drugs in diverse presentations, these include ophthalmic, cervix cancer screening tests, anti-allergic, antibiotic, anti- inflammatory, anti-histaminic, cosmetics, personal care, natural and desinfecting products, as well as prescription drugs.
Costa Rica’s history in Biotechnology dates from 1950, when the first cellular biology labs where opened in the country, and since then it has grown to be intrinsic in agriculture, forestry, and industrial productive processes, as well as research and development activities that have experienced significant growth in recent years.
A Biomedical Research Law, in place since April 2014, allows the country to participate in clinical trials, including provisions that aim to respect the rights of participants, among others, their health, security, informed consent, use of biological samples, withdrawal as participant, privacy, data use and information.
Costa Rican government supports the life sciences sector. Biotechnology and nanotechnology industries are now included as fundamental pillars of the strategic development plan for the country. Evidence of that is the public interest declaration of the medical device and biotechnological industries through Executive Decree N°36952-MICITT-COMEX-MEIC, and for nanotechnology and its applications by Executive Decree N°36567-MICITT from 2001.
Biotechnology and nanotechnology industries in Costa Rica are formed by four main actors: state, academia, research centers, and the private sector. There has also been a proliferation of business incubators to promote and accelerate the creation of new companies and innovation within these industries.
The Costa Rican Ministry of Science and Technology & Telecommunications (MICITT) presented in April 2014 a report called “Route 2021: Knowledge and Innovation for competitiveness, prosperity, and wellbeing.” In it, the importance of biotechnology and nanotechnology is pointed out as relevant players for the continuous success in the elds of energy, food, education, health and environment..
In 1997 the National Technical Biosecurity Commission (CTNBio) was created, as part of the Phytosanitary Service (SFE) of the Agriculture and Livestock Ministry, and its main goal is to control that biotechnological processes have an appropriate application according to regulations (IICA, 2013).
Above you will find a graphic presenting the distribution of national companies that are identified as developing research in these fields, according to their products and services.
BIOTECHNOLOGY IN AGRICULTURE
The country has been recognized as one of the biggest suppliers worldwide of high quality agricultural products; from traditional goods such as coffee, pineapple and cocoa, to cantaloupe, tubers, and babyvegetables to the more exotic and trendy crops like aloe vera, soursop, mangosteen and rambutan.
An integral view on sustainable development drives Costa Rica to act under the moto that “we preserve to produce and we produce to preserve”. The country has developed further in the value chain with organic agriculture, production under controlled environments, “green” products, fair trade and biotechnology applied to agriculture (plant tissue culture and micropropagation, molecular biology, biological control, cryopreservation, genetic improvement).
Research and findings in the biotechnology field, done by private and government laboratories, have allowed us to explore food engineering and create crops that are resistant to plagues or tropical diseases, creating new seeds (oil palms and cocoa varieties), new fruits (Pococí papaya), and new live organisms (Mediterranean fly) as bio-controllers for plagues.
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