Nuevo Leon Piece - Mexico- Business Week

The Drive to Create a Knowledge Driven Economy

By Scherzando Karasu

“Nuevo Leon is a territory where based on a plan and a general strategy jointly adopted by society and the government to have the common goal of building an economy based on the development of knowledge”  

Governor José Natividad Gonzal Parás

Nuevo Leon already among the most dynamic economies in Mexico, and has been at the forefront of applying R&D, innovation and science and technology, with a population of just 4.3 million, the state commands 7.6% of Mexico’s GDP and exports some $17 Billion USD per year. With a GDP per capita more than double the national average the state has been at the vanguard of an aggressively coordinated shift up the value-chain and is now host to some 2,000 foreign companies now established in its booming metropolitan area of Monterrey.

The state capital, long known for its large industrial enterprises, is today transitioning to a knowledge-based economy marked by tech startups and innovation. With a strategic location at the nexus of the domestic, North American and International markets, it has a top-quality communications infrastructure enjoys excellent labor relations and is home to the prestigious universities such as TEC De Monterrey, Universidad De Monterey, and the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon.

Through its Project Monterrey: International City of Knowledge, the State Government has embraced a “triple helix” development strategy; an alliance between the state, private sector and academia to link their universities with the technological development of their productive corporations and transfer this knowledge to the needs of the private sector enabling the creation of new products, processes, services and thus generating wealth and positioning Nuevo Leon globally as a technology hub.

Under the leadership of the ambitious ecole nationale d'administration educated Governor Jose Natividad Gonzal Paras the state has set forth the clear objective of positioning NL as one of Worlds top 25 most competitive locations, with a world class education, research and innovation system.

To create an economy of knowledge, a centre of technical excellence; embracing world class facilities and the development of technology clusters in the key strategic sectors of biotechnology, nanotechnology, mechatronics, Information communication technologies and healthcare. Its ambition is to become nothing less than a focal point for new investment and scientific research

Nuevo Loen’s cluster of technology firms emerged as a result of the “business incubation” services provide by the large family owned firms and the high-tech business incubators that where developed within the large local universities during the transition period from protectionism to free trade between 1982 and 2000 and was accelerated by the specific policies implemented by both federal and state governments.

With the gradual liberalization of the Mexican economy it quickly became apparent that Nuevo Leon should leverage its strengths in technology expertise and human capital to build stable long term economic growth. The “Ragiomontanos”, (as the people from Monterrey are known in Spanish), are at the vanguard of these changes. Many large firms in Nuevo Leon adopted strategies to respond to increasing competition from foreign manufacturers, firstly to concentrate their activities in “core competencies” creating an opportunity for skilled workers to spin off their own start-up companies.

Examples being Softteck and Expertec two of Monterrey’s most successful IT companies as well as other sources of new business creation such as the University-owned high tech business incubators and R&D centers and the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) which promotes knowledge-based economic development. Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon (UANL) for instance opened the Center for Business Incubation and Technology Transfer (CIETT) IN 2001 and the high-tech business incubator in 2005 to commercialize its faculty’s R&D.

So the public scientific research system in Nuevo Leon is large and growing aided and abetted by the many other federally supported initiatives to enhance technological innovation; such as the Tech BA program to promote Mexican companies penetrate globally, the mixed economy funds to finance innovation projects and PROSOFT which promotes the software industry throughout Mexico.

Nuevo Leon has been investing significant resources in the expansion of its high-tech industrial entrepreneurial base most spectacularly with the Monterrey International Knowledge City Program, the creation of the institute of Innovation and technology transfer (I2T2), and the launch of the Research and Innovation Technology Park in Monterrey (PITT) These projects are envisaged as a knowledge network that forges a strategic alliance between the key players in society and the government to generate economic development through innovation.

This program comprised of six key strategies: to redesign the agenda for the Nuevo Leon Education System, to attract research centers and technology businesses, create new innovative businesses, to improve the urban and cultural infrastructure, and to promote this new culture amongst the citizenry. With World class logistics, communications and transportation networks, high quality housing developments and infrastructure, diversified cultural and entertainment options and industrial research and innovation parks.

Mr. Jose Mais Garza, The boss of Meiz Meir a local construction conglomerate, has said that, “the government has been fully supportive of their development plan and has pioneered some very large scale infrastructure projects that could potentially explode the city” (sic).

Monterrey itself is set for long term growth Mr. Ramiro Guzman Barbosa, President of House Building Constructor Grupo Marfil, stated that, “Our city is expected to continue to growing strongly over the next 25 years up to 6 million residents and we believe we can sustain the demand for 60,000 new households per year until at least 2030”

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