When a government prioritizes social and economic growth, it comes as no surprise that they have a deep understanding of their most important and attractive industries. With eco-tourism, technological innovation, and free enterprise industries being recognized as vital aspects to their economy, Costa Rica has led itself down a path towards becoming the technological capital of Latin America. Attracting some of the highest levels of foreign investors in the region, Costa Rica is definitely a country you need to keep on your radar.
According to IMF and World Bank, since the earl 90s Costa Rica has dedicated approximately 0,5% of its GDP towards research and development programs in the science and technology while at the same time progressively increasing its investments into modern infrastructure and human resource optimization, becoming a magnet for private enterprise. With investments into just under 20,000 IT, manufacturing and service sector companies, they have generated more than 500,000 new jobs, according to the National Statistics Institute (INEC).
With a population of approximately five million, and a total land mass of 51,000 square kilo meters with less than 200km between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Costa Rica has two main ports with state-of-the-art terminals that move thousands of products to and from the country. Costa Rica has designed and put into place the “Digital Transformation Strategy 2018-2022”, with six essential points focused around on developing the use of technology for optimal productivity aimed towards an increase of the living standards for all citizens.
The creation of “Technology Parks” as industrial spaces, which are geared towards providing services and tax benefits to help the establishment of tech startups, have become one the most important contributors to the sector’s growth in Costa Rica. Top companies such as Intel, Vmware, IBM, HP, Microsoft, Amazon, Mckinsey, Sykes, DXC technology, Concentrix, Tek Experts, Experian, Procter & Gamble and many others have established themselves in these industrial parks. Space rentals, high speed internet services and fitness centers are part of the perks these companies have access to at the technology parks, well-known examples are: American Free Zone, UltraPark I, Ultrapark II, and Global Park.
The health industry and medical services sector has been one of the main driving forces behind the explosion of growth into tech-productivity. With an abundance of qualified professionals in science and technology, these large health companies have chosen Costa Rica as a central hub for their manufacturing, IT and BPS operations. To name a few, SurMedical, Microvention-Terumo, Hologic and Phillips, GSK and Pfizer.
Technology has been considered an integral part of education in Costa Rica since 1987. Now, with basic technological exposure implemented in all schools, the government is pivoting towards a focus on preparing its citizens for tech-oriented jobs. And the private sector is backing this focus. Costa Rica has defined a clear way forward; to structure and nurture its human resources with a vision towards preparing them to exceed in a world which is becoming increasingly digitized, and where automation threatens many existing industries. This focus has sparked the interest of young professionals in the country, and is reflected in the ever increasing number of active engineering professionals, currently around 150,000.
There’s no doubt that Costa Rica today has a dynamic and robust economy which is ripe for stable long term growth and is so much more than just an eco-tourists dream. With optimal conditions for small to large tech companies to develop new ideas, this pro-business environment welcomes everyone from expats to big investors looking to create new opportunities for themselves and the region. Be sure to keep your eyes on Costa Rica as it becomes an industry leader across Central and Latin America.