Guanacaste has optimal conditions to develop its innovation potential, but we need local governments committed to the cause and a central government that pushes investment in technology and reduces red tape for entrepreneurs in the region.
Ad Astra and Avantica are clear examples of the region’s potential. They have found and forged talent in the region with universities like Invenio and Earth, that even innovate their own teaching methods. Maybe even more important are schools like the one in Lajas, Santa Cruz, that has motivated kids to learn math and science with a small budget through robots and programming.
In Costa Rica, international sales of tech services are 6% of GDP and they generate 5% of the nation’s jobs. It’s a growing industry, but one that is stuck in the central valley and hasn’t been able to permeate the coastal provinces. In recent weeks, Amazon announced that it will hire 2,000 people in Costa Rica and Boston Scientific 600 in digital technologies. How many of those jobs will be in Guanacaste?
On the other hand, the government is looking to promote projects that will bring 7,000 jobs to Guanacaste. We need them to fight unemployment and exclusion, but the majority of these jobs will be at large, traditional tourist developments. Why not link digital tech companies into this new wave of economic growth for the province?
In order to achieve this goal, universities must be committed to creating more spaces and better quality majors with high demand like computer engineering and information technology, majors that contribute to the province’s economy and aren’t to the detriment of other social majors, which are also necessary in the country.
It’s also necessary for the Public Education Ministry (MEP) to start incentivizing more schools and high schools to invest in tech infrastructure and encourage the private sector to get actively involved in the process. The Omar Dengo Foundation’s project in alliance with MEP to provide technology and training in schools is an example of how NGOs and private companies can get involved in the future of the region.
Finally, business owners need a long-term view of the province. If they look closely, they will realize that Guanacaste could become a center for highly competitive innovation. Why? Because we have the potential to move the country toward clean and renewable energy, agriculture and ranching have huge opportunities for improvement if we take advantage of the precision of digital technologies that are already being developed in the zone. There is one point we shouldn’t overlook. Our people are hardworking and this is a great place to live.