Costa Rica's biotech project still on track for end of year


In your News story 'Costa Rican biotech centre in peril' (Nature 452, 787; 2008), you claim that the European Union (EU) is threatening to withdraw its contribution to the National Centre for Biotechnological Innovation (CENIBiot) project. We would like to clarify that the project is going ahead — we have not requested an extension of the EU's deadline, nor has the EU refused to grant one.

We are currently receiving sealed bids to remodel the CENIBiot building and equipment. All funds will be used before 5 December this year, as required under the EU agreement. No appeals are permitted for failed bids. Objections are dealt with according to EU procedure, without delaying application of the contract — unless a clear irregularity arises during the process, in which case it is referred to the EU. We have made every effort to guarantee maximum transparency in the process and to prevent violations.

For each bid, a tribunal of independent technical evaluators is appointed (the identity of the evaluators is kept confidential), along with a president and secretary for the evaluating committee. Representatives from the EU, the Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Ministry of Science and Technology attend as observers to reinforce the transparency of the process.

The Strategic Development Unit of CENIBiot is preparing contracts for economic study packages, updating biotechnological databases in Costa Rica and organizing visibility contracts and the exchange of experience and capabilities.

All this information is available from the ministry, is in accordance with the 2008 operation plan of the project and is paving the way for the identification of CENIBiot demonstration projects, on which we are now working.

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Corrales, A. Costa Rica's biotech project still on track for end of year. Nature 453, 586 (2008).

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