March 3rd, 2011

Why should Mass cleantech companies take a vacation to Costa Rica?


I sat in on a webinar recently where the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica spoke at length about the amazing opportunities for US clean-tech companies to exploit. Given how gorgeous Costa Rica is and their ongoing strides to create an eco-tourism economy, why the hell not?! It is the perfect spot for expansion, plus a great employee perk.

Kidding/vacation fun aside, the country is attempting to make itself investment friendly and currently has a lot of backing from the US government. Costa Rica is attempting to double the per-capita income of its citizens and in order to do that, the government needs to create jobs and slash spending.

The country has no fossil fuels of its own, so there has been a large focus on renewables, particularly hydro. The government is looking to add more than 2,000 MGW of energy production over the next ten years. This provides a great opportunity for US companies involved with hydro, geothermal and wind production to tap into a market for which their services are a necessity. Solar is being entertained but is generally considered too expensive. Here to is an opportunity for a US business to experiment with new business models that defray the cost of investment in solar. Similarly, Costa Rica is a good market for those exporting equipment for clean energy projects, involved in construction and installation, and/or engineering services.

Right now Costa Rica is a particularly good place to test out Smart Grid technologies, since the country currently prioritizes initiatives by the electric companies to develop a distributive energy model, such as providing incentives to customers that produce energy (net metering).

The US government is also looking to incentivize investment in Costa Rica by encouraging exports, creating partnerships within Costa Rica, making grants, and providing training.

Of course with every great opportunity comes great risk. Right now, Costa Rica is not highly rated in terms of being business friendly. Starting a company there and enforcing contracts can be a challenge. The Costa Rican president is aware of these issues, however and has stated that the government is looking to improve these conditions in order to increase competitiveness and foreign direct investment.

So there you go! Next time you leave the office and experience Boston winter weather…….dream of the possibilities awaiting you in Costa Rica. ;)

For a resource on incentives currently offered:

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Jessica Manganello

About Jessica Manganello

Jessisca R. Manganello is an attorney with and founder of New Leaf Legal, LLC . She works with sustainable and emerging businesses in the Boston area on their corporate and intellectual property needs. Passions include everything green, concept cars, food, movies, heavy metal music, body art, and kitty cats. To learn more check out New Leaf Legal and follow her @mangojess .