QCOSTARICA – Costa Rica stands out in the region as a Life Sciences cluster; however, there are challenges that the country faces and require the articulation of actions between the different actors of the ecosystem.
Educational planning, professionalization of human talent, job development opportunities, costs, red tape, public-private alliances and generation of public policies, are some of the pillars that the country works to stand out in the industry.
This was announced at the “I Congreso de Ciencias de la Vida e Ingeniería Biomédica” (First Congress of Life Sciences and Biomedical Engineering), organized by the Latin American University of Science and Technology (ULACIT), which was attended by government authorities, Procomer, CINDE, representatives of Medtronic, Philips , Boston Scientific, Edwards Lifesciences, academia, members of the University, the student community and the general public.
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According to the experts, for a greater professionalization of the sector, it should begin by strengthening the capacities, skills, and an inclusive education, mainly to encourage the participation of the female population.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), in Costa Rica, 16% of graduates choose STEM careers and of that 16%, 30% are women, so greater female participation in these should be encouraged. careers.
The call is to unite wills and promote STEM careers, which are projected as the careers of the future.
Within this strengthening, it is important to promote careers in high demand such as: science, technology, mathematics and engineering. Also, it is essential to include these careers as bilingual so that they have the capacity to respond to the demands of the market.
This is indicated by Alex Fernández, CEO of ULACIT, who comments that the institution works to promote the capacities that the Life Sciences market requires and also adds that “at ULACIT we have assumed a strong commitment to prepare our student community in accordance with the demands of the labor market, we have focused on bilingualism and a 100% project methodology that allows preparing leaders and entrepreneurs who stand out in the industry”.
The event had the special participation of Dr. Luis Blanch, MD PhD Senior Critical Care Medicine, in charge of the Parc Tauli University Hospital, in Barcelona (Spain) and international expert, who mentioned that “medicine is changing and one of these changes is the innovation, starting from this we reached the personalization of health care, benefiting thousands of people around the world, but we need the technology available in the world to be applied to the Life Sciences sector”.
With the objective of boosting the sector and keeping Costa Rica as the main research and development hub in the region, Mario Saenz, Procomer’s Export Development Manager, explained that “we are working alongside COMEX, MEIC and the Ministry of Labor, to promote public policies so that they contribute to the development of the sector. The environment we seek is one of dialogue and collaboration of the entire industry”.
Government authorities agree that it is essential to highlight the importance of generating a country context that favors advances in technology, education and the establishment of new companies, as well as fostering the entrepreneurial spirit.
“The State works so that people who are not in a business are. Through public policies such as the reform of the banking system to finance development initiatives, for example. The State must be seen as the facilitator of the rules of the game in society and its task is to update the competencies of public sector institutions and the competencies of its officials”, said Laura Fernández, Minister of Planning.
For her part, Shirley Saborío, Executive Vice President, the Council for the Promotion of Competitiveness, indicated that the issue of entrepreneurship is very important, but we must stop seeing it as an experiment. “All entrepreneurs in the world have started out as entrepreneurs. There are no small or medium-sized entrepreneurs, there are small and medium-sized business opportunities”.
General data of the sector
Erick Silesky, director of the Biomedical Engineering program at ULACIT, highlighted that “the medical device hub in Costa Rica is an incredible engine for the professionalization of talent, job creation and a driver of the economy.” Besides:
According to data provided by the Promotora de Comercio Exterior (Procomer) – Foreign Trade Promoter – in 2019, medical and precision equipment represented, for the third consecutive year, the country’s main export, which had double-digit growth (+23%), thus meaning 36% of the country’s exports.
In 2020, it was estimated that this industry brought together 57 companies, which represented close to 28% of the exportable added value, and close to 6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
The manufacture of precision and medical equipment is the main export sector of goods in the country, with 32% of exports in 2019, according to Procomer, which represented $3,699 million. Therefore, Costa Rica ranks as the second largest exporter of medical devices in Latin America.