The state of Jalisco – where Guadalajara is located – has a strong tech reputation and is also referred to as the Silicon Valley of Mexico. Leveraging on giant tech and communication companies based in such proximity, the city is firstly investing in educating and retaining talent in local universities and startups related to those sectors.
An interview with Xavier Orendain, Strategic General Coordinator of Economic Growth and Development, revealed that new support programs are in place. “We are primarily focused on the foundations of society and education. We have launched last-mile programs, working together with universities to help them prepare students for the needs of working in the real world. Based on standards received by the universities, companies have created paid internships for young minds who are getting ready to enter the world of employment.”
Some initiatives even involve the teachers of different levels of education, whose responsibility is to keep up with the developments worldwide and pass them on to the younger generation. One example of widening their mindset is supporting them in attending or hosting conferences in sectors that boost innovation, both in person and online.
This is why the state is also focusing on improving the hardware necessary for learning and innovation. “The state governor realized that if Jalisco wanted to be really the State of innovation, we need to have Wi-Fi statewide. So, we started the best and the first public network of free Wi-Fi in the country, so that we can connect the girls and boys in the remote areas of Jalisco who deserve the best and the same opportunities of development and connection that we have in the cities,” says Orendain. Remote schools and many hospitals can now benefit from worldwide knowledge and exchange information with peers on medical matters.
In the same vein of ‘hardware improvement’, Guadalajara’s Metro Area is being transformed into a Smart City, with a very advanced traffic light grid and a local virtual coin called Hoozies, designed to help local businesses and tourism infrastructure to gain more visibility and attract new clients. Hoozies use blockchain technology and are generated through an app when citizens do charitable activities for the community and are later redeemed in specific establishments. The goal is to strengthen circular economy and encourage environmental and social causes.
The Jalisco Tech Hub Act
Projects like these fall under Jalisco’s Tech Hub Act created to boost the capabilities of Jalisco’s technological ecosystem, take advantage of nearshoring opportunities and position the state as the most important innovation and talent hub. Launched earlier this year, the policy is characterized by the collaboration of government, academia, and private initiatives.
“The Jalisco Tech Hub Act is a public policy to take the high tech and innovation ecosystem to the next level. This is a long-term strategy with short-term actions to consolidate Jalisco as the Latin American leader in talent and innovation and we are following the leading countries actions in innovation and high tech. That is why the core of this public policy is the attraction, development and retaining highly specialized talent in the industry 4.0 (internet of things, information, design, high tech manufacture and high added value services),” explains Orendain.
Support for Business
Besides education, startups are also on the radar of the new policy. A program called ‘Ciencia al Mercado’ (meaning ‘From Science to Market’) has been set up to help local scientists and inventors to develop their intellectual property or inventions and to get them ready to be commercialized. With the state’s help and proper preparation they can have real impact on the economy and society.
Last year, the government launched the “Network of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centers” across Jalisco, called REDi. 35 companies were involved to create a group of physical innovation centres located in 9 different regions of the state (one located in Guadalajara and another currently being built inside the convention centre of Puerto Vallarta, also in Jalisco state) in order to promote high-impact entrepreneurship, digital transformation, as well as experimentation, co-creation, co-working, training, and networking. A true pool of potential ambassadors and influencers to attract the most interesting and relevant conferences to the city.
“One of the characteristics of the Redi Program is that it also works as a free coworking space for everyone. We offer our visitors friendly spaces to develop their entrepreneurship projects, and for our out-of-town visitors, a good space to have meetings and job interviews. Companies coming to local events can count on Redi as an extra business space right in the heart of Guadalajara. Redi also offers innovation-themed content for everyone, and of course a great network of local mentors and service professionals that can offer their services to our out-of-town visitors,” says Orendain.