Exporting more than $2bn during 2020, the life sciences companies of Coyol Free Zone have proved why this is the heart of Latin America’s medical innovation
It is no coincidence that Coyol Free Zone in Costa Rica has become one of the most important clusters for life sciences and smart manufacturing companies in Latin America. In the 15 years since it was established, the business park has developed a model that offers innumerable advantages to companies, which, combined with the benefits of Costa Rica as an FDI destination, are very hard to match.
The park has cultivated the ideal business conditions, creating a world-class export platform for the life sciences industry. Companies can find on-site suppliers for sterilisation (ETO & E Beam), packaging, moulding, extrusion, assembly, and logistics services. All of which allows companies to export medical devices directly from Costa Rica.
Reducing time and costs on production, transportation, and warehousing – as well as having access to top quality services and infrastructure – has become a competitive advantage for many world-class companies. Proof of this is the presence of seven of the world’s top 30 medical device companies: Medtronic, Abbott, Philips, Cardinal Health, Microvention-Terumo, Smith & Nephew, and Hologic all have operations at the Coyol Free Zone.
In addition, the Coyol Free Zone is home to the Abbott pharmaceutical company, and the announcement that the German chemical-pharmaceutical company Bayer will be establishing a plant focused on family planning underlines the value of this life sciences cluster.
The exports of the companies based at the Coyol Free Zone were worth over $2bn in 2020 – 52% of all exports of precision instruments and medical devices from Costa Rica in that year. Companies in Coyol Free Zone also accounts for 30% of the exports of the manufacturing segment of the Costa Rican Free Trade Zone Regime.
Secret of the success
So, how did Coyol Free Zone become such a key player for the medical manufacturing and life sciences industry? “The main ingredients are outstanding talent and innovation, which evolved to meet the unique needs of multinational firms,” says Carlos Wong, Managing Director of the business park.
The 31 companies established in the park were so satisfied with the tailored solutions, that 84% of them decided to expand above their initial scale. The constant growth of its client base has also helped to position Coyol Free Zone as the main generator of quality jobs for a single Free Zone in Costa Rica, with 22,000 people employed here.
“The business ecosystem in Coyol Free Zone incorporates companies that provide goods and services, reducing costs and maximising the time and resources of companies exporting directly from Costa Rica. The result is a notable increase in the productivity and competitiveness of all the companies that operate in the park,” Wong added.
Global value chains
This innovative business model also benefits local providers. They have been able to increase their sales, technical capacity, and payrolls, enhanced by the capabilities that multinational companies offer and the solidity of the value chains they create. This symbiotic relationship allows local suppliers to access international markets and global value chains through their services.
In acknowledgement of these local companies, Coyol Free Zone has created the “Coyol Impulsa” award, designed to display the work of the suppliers to a national audience, and encourage other SMEs to get involved in the life sciences industry.
"84% of the companies have expanded beyond their initial scale in Coyol Free Zone"
Furthermore, the park decided to create a virtual directory where anyone can access the services of these suppliers, including other installed companies.
Coyol Free Zone is recognised as the “Best Free Zone” in the Americas and one of the Top 10 globally, according to The European and fDi Intelligence respectively. It also has the endorsement of the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Promoter (PROCOMER) through the Esencial Costa Rica country brand.