Thinking about establishing an operation in the Costa Rican medical device sector? Contact us.
The Central American Group: Hello and welcome to another installation of the Central American Group’s podcasts. These discussions are held with experts that are internal to the company as well as with those that are external to the company. Today we have someone with a wide range of experience in the Costa Rican medical device sector. He is external to the company. He has worked with many medical device manufacturers in Costa Rica. Therefore, he has a wide breadth of knowledge concerning that industry. Today I would like to welcome Marco Bruno to our podcast. How are you today Marco?
Marco Bruno: Hello. Thank you for having me.
The Central American Group: Would you please provide some biographical information for yourself so that our listeners will have some idea of what your experience has been?
Marco Bruno: Sure, again my name is Marco Bruno. I am an industrial engineer with an MBA. I have been working in Costa Rican medical device sector for around 20 plus years. With companies such as Microvention, Terumo, Confluent Medical, Align Technologies and Providien Medical. I have worked mostly in operations. I am very happy to work in the Costa Rican medical device sector. This is especially true when you are making products that are going to eventually be saving lives.
The Central American Group: You mentioned quite a number of well-known companies. We know that in addition to them, Costa Rica is now a hot spot for the medical device industry and has attracted companies that are interested in the environment that has been created for the industry there.
Can you tell us what are the factors that that make Costa Rica a hot spot for the medical device industry?
Marco Bruno: Yes, I would have to say that Costa Rica has the longest history of democracy in Latin America. It’s a very friendly country that has no army. Most of the money that usually would be used for maintaining a military is dedicated to education. As a result of this, our country has a literacy rate of between 95% and 98%. Because of this rate of literacy, it is easier to train the workforce to work in the Costa Rican medical device sector. The workers here have shorter learning curves, are good at following instructions and doing what needs to be done to create a very good company. That’s what we find in Costa Rica.
Additionally, we are a strong ally of the United States, which is our primary market for many years. The fact that we are located in Mountain Time makes it easier for companies to conduct conference calls or any kind of a meeting. Also, we are a three-hour flight away from Miami and Houston. We can make same day deliveries.
I think that a mix of all these things make the Costa Rican medical device sector an attractive investment option for companies in the medical device industry.
The Central American Group: You mentioned that Costa Rica has a literacy rate of somewhere between 95% and 98%. As you mentioned, that is a plus when it comes to training individuals. What else, however, is so special about the workers and technicians in the Costa Rican medical device sector?
Marco Bruno: Again, it has got to be related to the level of workforce education. Because Costa Rica is not spending money on maintaining an army, we are spending more money on education. This makes it easier to train people to follow instructions in the Costa Rican medical device sector.
Another important this is that English is widely taught as a second language in Costa Rican schools. Sometimes French is as well, but instruction is mostly in English. Additionally, we have many technical universities that provide courses related to the Costa Rican medical device sector. This makes it easy, not only to train people to work with product, but also in engineering and other departments.
It’s about education and the fact that Costa Ricans are a friendly and an easy-going people. It’s a combination of factors that makes the Costa Rican medical device sector such a success story. I say this because most of the big companies that are in Costa Rica such as Edwards Life Sciences, Abbott Cardiovascular, Microvention, and Smith and Nephew, after establishing themselves in the country, increase their manufacturing footprint to increase their operations.
The success of the Costa Rican medical device sector owes a lot to its workforce that is open, honest and trustworthy.
The Central American Group: I have read recently, and its been in place for several years now, that, in particular, I believe that the University of Minnesota has a Master’s Degree in medical device manufacturing that it offers in conjunction with one of the universities in Costa Rica. Not only do workers in Costa Rica have bilingual education as a favorable attribute. Costa Rica is training people at the master’s degree level.
What is the Costa Rican medical device sector capable in terms of what it produces? What different types of products are made in your country?
Marco Bruno: That is a very interesting question. We can go from neuromodulation to neuroendovascular, to respiratory and optical products, to stents and endoscopy equipment, to women’s healthcare and orthopedics and sports medicine, to radiological, surgical and dental devices, and cardiovascular and vascular products. Additionally, we produce ostomy and medication delivery systems. Having these kinds of products being made in the Costa Rican medical sector has caused the creation of companies to supply the industry. These suppliers not only work to produce parts for the medical devices that I have mentioned but also provide material needed to make the products.
The Central American Group: You have mentioned a lot of factors that are in the favor of the Costa Rican Medical device sector. Is there any one thing that you would point out as the reason why Costa Rica has become so competitive in the global medical device industry?
Marco Bruno: I would say that there is the factor that Costa Rica is located strategically very close to the United States. Also, there is the fact that there are many Costa Rican free trade agreements and that the country has a network of free trade zones. In the country’s free trade zones there are zero taxes on imports and exports. For instance, products that are shipped from China to the US are charged duties of around 25%. In contrast, Costa Rica pays zero.
Another thing that is interesting in the medical device industry is something that we call “speed to market.” This is related to the fact that when you come up with a product, the goal is to put it on the market as quickly as possible. Because Costa Rica is close to the United States, this makes us a “sweet spot” for achieving this.
Another thing that is very important to note is that the Costa Rican medical device sector totally respects intellectual property rights.
The Central American Group: That is very important. You mentioned China with regard to tariffs. China, however, is another issue when it comes to intellectual property protection, as well.
Sometimes people that listen to our podcasts have questions for our guests. We like to make those that participate in these discussions available to members of our audience that may have questions. If a listener has a question, can he or she contact you using an email address?
Marco Bruno: Yes, and I would be glad to answer any questions about the Costa Rican medical device sector. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Central American Group: Thank you for joining us. We really appreciate your participation and wish you the best of luck.
Marco Bruno: Thank you for having me.
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