Costa Rica Leads Latin America in Technology And Innovation

The country continues to strive towards becoming a global tech hub

Our country was among the middle-income economies that exceed in innovation in relation to their level of development, being the only country in Latin America with the best result with respect to GDP, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The United States continues to be the main destination for companies that want to invest or open new ventures, according to the 2019 edition of the World Innovation Indicator. The ranking, which is based on 80 indicators to assess its innovations, including access to a workforce with specialized training, high-tech infrastructure, and credits, shows that this year, once again, the geography of innovation is changing.

The strength of laws to protect intellectual property rights that allow investors and inventors to own their ideas and have the exclusive right to use them to earn money with their hard work is also taken into consideration.

The northernmost countries of North America, the United States, and Canada make up the main region in innovation in the world where the United States appears as first in market sophistication, which refers to the availability of credit, investments, trade, competitiveness and scale trade.

The second region is Europe with Switzerland, Sweden, and Holland as the most innovative countries, while Southeast and East Asia are ranked as the third region headed by Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong, followed in fourth place by North Africa and western Asia.

The fifth position is occupied by Latin America and the Caribbean in innovation by region, where Costa Rica in 45th where the high level of sophistication stands out in business and creative production, both of goods and services and on internet services, and stands out as the only country in Latin America where better results in innovation are obtained in relation to its GDP.

In recent years there has been an investment increase for innovation worldwide, calculated based on the average investment of economies of all levels of development. Innovation in the area of health is increasingly based on the use of data and artificial intelligence, both in the determination of diagnosis and prognosis, so this sector together with education have indicators that are very close to those of the developed world.

The entity responsible for regulating the scientific area in Costa Rica is the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Telecommunications (MICITT). Likewise, the powers of promotion and scientific development are the responsibility of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICIT).

For several years Costa Rica has been the scientific and technological powerhouse of Central America and one of the largest in Latin America because it produces annually one of the largest amounts of international studies and appointments occupying one of the highest positions in all of the Americas.

Although quite small compared to its relative scientific investment, it has a solid research infrastructure and has hosted events of great preponderance in the area of science. In this matter, Costa Rica is one of the Latin American nations with the highest budget for science and research on the continent.

Despite recent developments, the history of innovation began many years ago with the innovative idea of converting Costa Rica into a kind of Silicone Valley in the United States, where large technology companies such as Google, Apple, eBay, Nokia, Intel, and Tesla, among others, making it there strategic headquarters for worldwide coordination and production.

There is great potential in Costa Rica to become a regional technological hub for information storage and provision of cloud services, which would ensure us a prosperous future in the world in which globalization is the goal; and we would be in a booming economic axis, which would help us to develop according to the trends of modernity and be one of the most competitive countries in the world.

According to the Costa Rican Coalition for Development Initiatives (CINDE), the sectors in which FDI has focused most have been contacting centers, shared services, back office, entertainment, digital media and technology, design, engineering, and software. Innovation in fields such as data management, clean energy, biotechnology, robotics, and other enterprises would allow us to be leaders in the most globalized international markets and become a model for those who long for that insertion in the new technological era.

The change for this vision to become a reality, that is demanded, calls for an open mind society, overcoming the confrontation between the new generations that are attracted to a way of doing things that leave behind the traditional and outdated political structures, necessary for the transformation that replaces the bureaucratic ways of the country’s government institutionality, which has become inoperative.

Our country has one of the largest medical services and equipment development centers in the world, where the public sector stands out through its universities that has led to investments in technological innovation.

If before we were known as coffee and banana exporters, “Ticos” have economically evolved towards the manufacture of microchips in the 1990s and then towards the export of advanced services and technology, taking advantage of the talent of an educated and bilingual population. But that is one of the many reasons that have allowed us to follow a very different path from that of our Central American neighbors.

Companies like Microsoft, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Google, and Amazon are already investing in Costa Rica, and this is thanks to the high level of education of our working population, in addition to political and social stability. Costa Rica has also been favored by its geographical location and good connectivity with the rest of the Latin American nations. These advantages, together with a commercial opening that began three decades ago, has
become a magnet for large technological multinationals and in becoming the most innovative country in Latin America after Chile.

Our country continues to embark on its plan to attract more foreign direct investment, encourage the creation of new technology companies and export value-added products. One of the symbols of Costa Rican innovation is the Ad Astra Rocket laboratory, directed by scientist Franklin Chang which was the first Latin American astronaut who traveled to space. Among the projects been developed by this venture is the creation of hydrogen technologies to reduce transportation pollution and also the most outstanding of the projects that are to send a rocket into space by the year 2030 using a plasma engine.

The Costa Rican people are proud to have put into space the first Central American satellite in 2018, developed by human and scientific resources of our country. We also face a great challenge to totally decarbonize the economy by 2050, when we seek to completely eliminate the use of fossil fuel as well as invest intensely on biotechnology to create renewable technologies.

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SOURCEEdixon Colmenares
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