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[SAN JOSE] The Costa Rican public now has the opportunity to post its own innovative ideas on a new Google community launched by the Ministry of Science of Costa Rica (MICIT) last month (24 October).

"Our country lacks innovation culture. It prevents the comprehension of what innovation means and how to promote it. We have to change that," Eugenia Flores, minister of science, said at a press conference.

"Costa Rica needs to stimulate the productive skills and the competitive abilities of its people. This Google group is part of this hope and could be vital to build our innovative capacity."

The forum, which is open to all Costa Ricans, will also be used to announce free activities, training programmes or courses, scholarships and opportunities to obtain financial support for scientific and economic research.

MICIT also plans to post information about Costa Rican innovations on YouTube and Facebook, Flores said. In addition, a document promoting the project has been sent to every school in the country.

So far, 104 people have joined the group and have contributed more than 20 suggestions. MICIT will establish a group to study the best suggestions and determine whether they can be developed further.

One post discussed the importance of introducing the Linux System in public schools. "This alternative could permit the use of obsolete computers without an operating system," said Andrés Mora, a computer scientist, on the website. "If you have a good computer with the Linux System, you can share this operating system with other computers. You can create a network of 'dumb' computers connected to a good one."

The initiative is part of a government project called the National System of Science and Technology. The project is based on a report that reveals why Costa Rica — despite having the human and technological resources — has low levels of innovation. (See Costa Rica seeks to boost innovation)

Jorge Andres Diaz, a professor at the University of Costa Rica, told SciDev.Net he hopes people will use the information and connections to make science really happen.

"Developing countries have the tendency to talk about science and technology; we need to 'do' science and technology — making it have an impact on our day-to-day lives, transforming and improving it."