History of the Center


On October 25, 1995, the Swiss businessman and industrialist Stephan Schmidheiny participated as an observer in a summit meeting of the presidents of the Central American countries held at the Business School of Harvard University. After this event, INCAE Business School, INCAE, proposed the creation of a new organization in the Central American region: a center for research, dissemination of knowledge and promotion of key ideas on competitiveness and sustainability. From the beginning it accepted the proposal and in mid-1996, the initiative evolved into the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development, CLACDS. Thus, Dr. Schmidheiny became an important ally for INCAE and for the new entity, with which he was linked initially in a personal capacity and later through his newly created AVINA Foundation.

Important milestones

Throughout history, the Center has executed different projects and important alliances that have generated great impact in the region.


Foundation of the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development (CLACDS) (September 1).
Laying of the first stone of the Stephan Schmidheiny Building, Costa Rica (November 30).


Presentation of the Central American Agenda for the XXI Century in a meeting between CABEI, INCAE and Harvard for academics, government leaders and entrepreneurs, Costa Rica (June).
Inauguration of the Stephan Schmidheiny Building, Walter Kissling Gam Campus, Costa Rica (June 18).


Publication of the eight-volume study CLACDS-HIID-AVINA-CABEI on Central America.


CLACDS and the MIT Media Lab announce the formalization of the Digital Nations research agreement to promote the development of Central America (February).
INCAE students, along with students from HBS, the Stockholm School of Economics and the Riga School of Economics, Latvia, participate in a virtual course on the microeconomics of competitiveness taught by Michael Porter and coordinated by CLACDS (February- March).


Stephan Schmidheiny chooses INCAE as the place to announce the creation of the Viva Trust (October 9).


Signing of the BATCCA (British American Tobacco Caribbean & Central America) - INCAE agreement that establishes a research chair called "BATCCA Chair of Social Enterprise and Corporate Social Responsibility" (October 21).


Signing of the Steve Aronson - INCAE Agreement, through which the Steve Aronson Chair of Agribusiness Strategy will be created, with a donation of $ 1 million from Mr. Aronson, WKG Campus, Costa Rica (December 10).

  • The first module of the Regional Economic Integration Program (PIER) begins. PIER is a joint effort of INCAE Business School, the World Bank, the Secretariat for Central American Economic Integration (SIECA), the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Spain and the World Trade Institute of the University of Bern, Switzerland (January 24) .
  • In March 2011 CLACDS together with the Rectory created the Central American Private Sector Initiative (CAPSI), which is made up of a group of business leaders from Central America who took on the challenge of working to find solutions to priority problems. in the region.
  • In May, CLACDS in conjunction with INCAE Business School and the Inter-American Development Bank held the Central America Forum in Costa Rica. The Forum was attended by the presidents of Central America and on Saturday, May 4, the president of the United States, Barack Obama. The rector of INCAE, Arturo Condo, led the presentation of the Forum's recommendations to the President of Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla, to President Obama and other guests (May 3-4). 
  • INCAE's Harry Strachan Chair in Philanthropy and Social Investment is established (July).