- To enhance cooperation with Costa Rica in renewable energy and new drug development
The Ministry of Science and ICT (Minister Lim Hyesook; MSIT) announced that it virtually held the first Korea-Costa Rica Joint Committee Meeting on Science and Technology (hereinafter "Joint Committee Meeting") on July 23, together with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications of Costa Rica.
The Joint Committee Meeting is an intergovernmental consultative body to share science and technology policy and discuss joint research and cooperation among research institutes, based on the Korea-Costa Rica Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement signed in 1979.
Although scientific and technological cooperation with Central America has not been active compared to other regions, in the high-level meeting back in November 2020, both countries agreed on the need to work together in the field of science and technology to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Joint Committee Meeting was held, as part of the follow-up measure of the bilateral meeting.
* Bilateral meeting between the first Vice Minister of Science and ICT of Korea and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica
The Korean delegation was led by Director General Kim Seong Gyu of International Cooperation Bureau of MSIT and the Costa Rican delegation was led by Director General Carlos Redondo Gomez of R&D Division at the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT*). In the Joint Committee Meeting, a total of 16 people, including stakeholders from industry, academia, and research institutes participated.
* Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications
In the first Joint Committee Meeting, both countries shared interest in science, technology and innovation policies, renewable energy, and new drug development. Robust discussions followed on topics such as proposing new joint research projects and seeking substantial collaboration.
First, in renewable energy, ways to secure original technologies and commercialize them were discussed in order to produce eco-friendly biofuels in cost-effective way. To do so, Costa Rica’s biomass* was linked with Korea’s experience in developing enzymes which break down substances efficiently.
* Algae created from photosynthesis, plant resources (wood, grass, leaves, roots, fruits etc.), organic waste (agricultural and forestry byproduct such as sawdust and rice straw), and organic industrial waste (food waste, excrement etc.)
- If biotechnology can be developed and commercialized, it can greatly contribute to preventing global warming and achieving carbon neutrality.
In new drug development field, ways to develop and commercialize new drugs effective for treating metabolic diseases**, functional food, and cosmetics were discussed, by connecting Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity with Korea’s technology to identify candidate materials*.
* Technology to identify candidate materials, which curb disease risk factors
** Metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and hyperlipidemia etc.
- The two countries are also working together to secure biomaterials and the Joint Committee Meeting will boost the value of biodiversity in Costa Rica and contribute to the development of biohealth industry.
In addition, in nano-biotechnology, how to develop receptors*, which can selectively bind to a specific disease molecule from Costa Rica’s bio-resources by using Korea’s high-throughput screening technology (HTS) was discussed.
* A receptor selectively binds to a specific disease molecule and substances for analysis.
- This study links results of basic research on Costa Rica’s natural resources with Korea’s outstanding nano-bio application technology. If this can be utilized as highly sensitive biosensors, bio-imaging, and drug delivery system*, disease treatment technology will become more effective.
* System that can control the speed of drug release or effectively deliver drugs to targeted areas (technology and system that minimize side effects of medicine and maximize drug efficacy).
Director General Kim Seong Gyu of International Cooperation Bureau of MSIT said that the Joint Committee Meeting served as a venue to have in-depth discussions on cooperative projects, which can boost complementary strengths of both countries.
Director General Kim also commented that "we will endeavor to forge strong partnership by identifying and expanding joint research projects which can create tangible outcomes in areas including biofuels, new drugs, health functional food, and cosmetics."
For further information, please contact Deputy Director Park Chi-seon (E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Ministry of Science and ICT.