• 60% of R&D positions are occupied by women.
• Study determined that increased efforts are required to improve relationship between academia and businesses.
San Jose, June 26, 2020. A recent study carried out by the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER), “Biotechnology Mapping: A description of the industry”, determined that, in 2018, companies, business ventures and research centers related to this industry generated a total of 6,821 direct jobs. The analysis also revealed that the sector reported approximately $629 million in revenue, a figure that, compared to the country’s GDP, represents the equivalent of 1.05% of the national economy.
Of these jobs, 1,548 (22%) were positions dedicated to research and development (R&D), of which 60% were occupied by women. In terms of income, it is important to note that the average income generated per employee was approximately three times higher than the average productivity for the rest of the economy, confirming the high added value of a highly knowledge-intensive industry.
The study also determined that, in 2018, the industry boasted a total of 87 companies or businesses in the country, as well as 42 research centers related to the sector. In addition, 48 of the 87 companies are exporters and approximately 60% have participated in trade shows.
For the Minister of Foreign Trade and President of the Board of Directors of PROCOMER, Dyalá Jiménez, this study is very valuable at a time when all sectors, and their companies, need information to make better decisions. “The pandemic has changed the way we do business. It is important to have data that allows us to get a clear view of our panorama to make intelligent decisions in terms of potential markets, alliances between companies and institutions, financing, and more,” said Jiménez.
Marta Esquivel, Director of Business Intelligence at PROCOMER, added that “the purpose of the study was to carry out an initial estimate of the jobs and income generated by the national biotech industry, in order to support the positioning of the sector both locally and internationally. Now that we have a better understanding and have identified areas of opportunity, such as intellectual property for commercial purposes, we can propose recommendations to boost this sector, which may be vital for the reactivation of the national economy, as well as support the country’s position in international markets, since it is an intensive sector in knowledge.”
Recommendations made by Esquivel to boost this sector include:
• Simplify work processes between research centers and the private sector
• Increase access to financing
• Strengthen the academia-industry relationship, since beyond the sale of laboratory services or products, few research centers have technology development agreements for commercial purposes.
The biotech industry in Costa Rica, highlighted for being part of the knowledge-intensive services, dates back to 1950 when the first medical cell biology labs were established.
At present, of the 87 companies or business ventures whose core line of business is the result of an R&D process in the field of biotechnology, 32 are dedicated to green biotechnology (agricultural, forestry and livestock) and 18 companies deal with biotechnological applications in the area of human or animal health and medicine (red).
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