Last year Costa Rica positioned itself as the second country in Latin America in the export of medical devices. If the past is prologue, once again, in the current year, the country will be at the forefront of this industry in the region. The figures during the first quarter of 2023 indicate that medical devices head the list of Costa Rican export products. In the last decade, our country achieved an increase in exports from $1.3 billion to $3.935 billion, thus placing us only behind Mexico in the area.
Costa Rica’s positioning as a leader in this industry has not been by chance but is the result of the joint work of the public and private sectors. The first companies that were established in the country focused on manufacturing and exporting disposable medical devices of low per-unit market value. Thanks to a clear policy of attracting foreign direct investment, the first sterilizing company arrived in 2008, opening the possibility of attracting a new group of manufacturers of medical devices (surgical and medical instruments, therapeutic devices, and medical equipment).
In recent years, Costa Rica has seen accelerated growth in its positioning in the value chain, generating the necessary synergies to form a robust cluster of medical devices that includes not only transnational companies but also companies totally owned by Costa Rican capital.. There are more than seventy life science companies established in the country, thirteen correspond to the leading original equipment manufacturers worldwide. Fifty of more than one hundred companies that supply local manufacturers are of national origin.
The work carried out by the country in attracting and retaining this type of company, bilingual human talent, the incorporation of international standards in our local ecosystem, and the cluster approach have provided us with the necessary conditions for the consolidation of these companies in the country to reach an optimal level of maturity. Looking to the future, we have the challenge of continuing to move up the value chain and attracting more research and development projects, as well as getting more national companies to join this industry, offering their goods and services but also innovating and creating.
It is a vital moment for this country’s plans that have generated so much revenue in terms of employment and the development of skills and knowledge. In the future, the agenda must necessarily aim at creating new opportunities to strengthen the list of suppliers of already established companies, improve their investment climate, and promote spaces for the establishment of increasingly challenging projects that combine research, technology, data analysis, biotechnology, and robotics, among others. Costa Rica has the perfect scenario for these companies to grow for many years.