Georgia Tech Opens TIP Center in Costa Rica

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The Costa Rican trade industry will be able to increase trade across borders and make existing trade more productive thanks to a new Trade, Innovation & Productivity (TIP) Center that opened in the capital city of San Jose on August 20, 2009. The new TIP Center in Costa Rica is the latest addition to a network of centers established by Georgia Tech around the world that utilize research, innovation, and education. The Center, a member of the Productivity for Progress Institute, is a joint development of the Supply Chain & Logistics Institute, the Stewart School of ISyE, and the College of Management at Georgia Tech in partnership with the Foreign Trade Corporation (PROCOMER) and the Chamber of Industries in Costa Rica.

"We are delighted to have a presence in Costa Rica that gives our faculty and students an opportunity to participate in this exciting activity," said Georgia Tech President G. P. "Bud" Peterson. "One of Georgia Tech's strengths is working with business and industry around the world to apply scientific principles and to provide needed education to help meet business challenges. Through the Trade, Innovation & Productivity Center, we will utilize our strengths in technology research to develop innovative solutions and enhance logistical productivity, keeping business moving."

The Inauguration Ceremony was hosted by Dr. Steve Salbu, Dean of the College of Management, and featured special guest speakers Marco Vinicio Ruiz, Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, Tech President Peterson, and Dr. Oscar Arias Sanchez, President of Costa Rica.

"Today is a memorable day for the Costa Rican people. The first link of a chain that will bring prosperity and knowledge to hundreds of companies in our country is forged today... Today, as a nation, we change the course of our history by changing the course of our trade-chains," said Arias. "The TIP Center will not be just a marginal consulting or advising firm. It will be an open university, a place for our small entrepreneurs and for our big business men to train and re-train, with the speed demanded by a world where any university degree becomes outdated before the paper turns yellow."

On the second day of the inaguration ceremonies, the Center hosted an International Commerce & Logistics Seminar featuring a keynote presentation from Dr. H. Donald Ratliff, executive director of SCL and the TIP Center, on the role of innovation and technology pertaining to international supply chains.

"The TIP Center will utilize a combination of research, education, and innovation to improve logistics productivity within Costa Rica and trade productivity between Costa Rica and other countries, particularly the United States," said Ratliff. "This is a great opportunity for us to collaborate with enterprises in Costa Rica to address issues that are critical for economic growth in all of Latin America. Good supply chain and logistics capabilities are essential in order to be competitive in global markets."

Following the keynote presentation were three panel discussions on logistics challenges in Latin America and strategies that might improve productivity, international commerce expansion, and information technology.

The first panel discussion focused on defining what supply chain and logistics productivity means and issues that contribute to, and detract from, improved supply chain productivity for Costa Rica domestically, regionally, and globally. Dr. Chelsea White III, School Chair of the Stewart School of ISyE, moderated the discussion. Participants included Dr. Juan Blyde, economist, Inter-American Development Bank; Maria Alexandra Feoli, country logistics manager, Intel; and Sara Hagigh, deputy director, U.S. Department of Commerce.

The second panel discussion, moderated by Sebastian Urbina, managing director of the TIP Center, focused on international commerce expansion and Costa Rica's strategy of growth through trade. The panel examined the costs associated with expanding exports, discussed the challenges of maintaining security across the supply chain, and focused on the issue of food safety in international supply chains. Participating on this panel were Tomas Duenas, former Ambassador of Costa Rica to the U.S.; Dr. Paul Seligman, regional director, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Emanuel Hess, general manager, PROCOMER; and Enrique Ackermann, director, Coca-Cola.

The third panel discussion, moderated by Dr. Sridhar Narasimhan, senior associate dean in the College of Management, focused on technology and productivity. The discussions focused on how IT investments lead to improvements in productivity, why technology diffusing is sometimes so slow, why the benefits of implementation are not always realized. The panelists included Marco Lizano, director, Coca-Cola; Alicia Avendañao, director, Digital Government's Technical Secretariat; Roberto Sasso, president, Costa Rica's Club for Technology Research; and Dr. Sandra Slaughter, Costley Chair & Professor of IT Management, College of Management.

The seminar concluded with an overview of activities from the TIP Center, summarizing how the Center can help to resolve some of these issues.

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