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Benefiting from innovation and technology


June 10, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Counterfeiting is an age-old pursuit that comes in many shapes, forms, and sizes, and is without a doubt a profitable business. It requires no investment in research and development or in advertising campaigns to market the product. All that’s required is to copy a product, sell it at a discounted price, and collect the benefits. The growth of the Internet has also been beneficial to pharmaceutical counterfeiters, allowing them to link suppliers and buyers with relative ease and anonymity. For the pharmaceutical industry, counterfeiting and security breaches are costing drug manufacturers as much as $50 billion a year, as well as endangering the health and safety of consumers.

Many of the most popular drugs manufactured in Puerto Rico are currently being counterfeited elsewhere, so it’s encouraging to see that companies on the island are developing the tools to combat fake drugs and limit security breaches. Some of these tools are being developed in Hewlett-Packard’s facilities in Aguadilla, demonstrating once again that the island has the talent, skills, and technological capabilities to tackle all sorts of problems.

Just last week, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association (PRMA), during its 77th annual convention, stated that in Puerto Rico we needed to act, direct, and unite our efforts toward an economy of science and technology. The PRMA indicated that as a part of the U.S., with a highly skilled labor force and strong pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, the island could easily become an important site for high-tech developments.

This is something we have been hearing for some time now from both the public and private sectors, but just what is needed to achieve such a goal? It requires venture capital, a technological infrastructure, a well-educated workforce, and a healthy budget for research and development.

To keep feeding innovation in Puerto Rico, investment in research and development is a must. It also requires the academic, private, and public sectors to unite and work toward the same goal. Local universities need the funds to carry out research and development projects that often run into the millions of dollars. Investment in research and development isn’t lost. Just consider that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology alone–faculty, alumni, and staff–have created 5,000 companies over the past 50 years.

A major component of job creation throughout the U.S. over the past three decades has been derived from investment in science research and technology. Research, particularly in the physical sciences and engineering, is the foundation of the mainland’s innovative economy. It has led to the creation of fiber optics, wireless communication, the Internet, global positioning satellites, and medical technologies, among an endless list of others.

With these new technologies, numerous high-tech, well-paying jobs also have emerged, which is something Puerto Rico’s leaders must keep in mind. While the Commonwealth seeks to continue to invest hundreds of millions of our tax dollars each year to protect outdated government jobs, CARIBBEAN BUSINESS shares PRMA’s vision that we need to invest more of our efforts and resources into science and technology. Exceptional opportunities can emerge through innovation and the creation of new technology as opposed to protecting bureaucratic jobs and do-nothing agencies depending on outdated economic models.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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