Ciudad Juárez and the Mexican border region are sometimes associated with low-wage manufacturing, drug violence, and other negative connotations – but that’s all changing, thanks in part to a new focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, and strategic partnerships. The Ciudad Juarez Technology HUB is at the forefront of this shift.
Last fall, a unique business initiative became reality in Mexico’s foremost border city. The Ciudad Juárez Technology HUB, a business incubator of sorts, promotes innovation and technological entrepreneurship in the region and is currently expanding. Situated on nearly 2 acres, the HUB’s campus feels like Silicon Valley with its glass-walled workspaces, 3-D printer, slide from the second floor to the lobby on the first, putting green on the roof, and its visible obsession with technological innovation and entrepreneurship. The Ciudad Juárez Technology HUB aspires to connect human talent and modern technologies with the global opportunities in the borderland region.
The technology hub is backed by several Ciudad Juárez-based companies, and gives the impression that the next tech boom is just around the corner in Mexico. For instance, instead of the old payphones that once stood out in the parking lot, there are now charging stations for electric cars. Inspirational quotes are painted on the campus walls. Employees take breaks in the game room, sitting in comfy bean bag chairs, or write out their ideas on glass walls in dry-erase marker. With an emphasis on renewability and sustainability, campus of the Ciudad Juárez Technology HUB also sports an impressive vertical garden. It is hard to identify these facilities as those once belonging to a US Consulate General.
A New Era
The goal of the Ciudad Juárez Technology HUB is to foster economic development through a marriage of technology and entrepreneurship. This signals a coming of age for Mexico’s young start-up and tech environment. Primarily based in Mexico City and only about 10 years old, the focus on start-ups and technological entrepreneurship is catching on throughout the length and breadth of the country. Ciudad Juárez may be an unlikely place for this focus, yet its shift in that direction suggests that a new era is dawning for Mexico, as well as for the city’s industry.
Soon after taking office, current Mexican president Peña Nieto created the Instituto Nacional del Emprendedor (INADEM), an agency whose purpose it is to encourage entrepreneurship nationwide. Typically, the focus on promoting startups and entrepreneurship in Mexico has been the domain of universities that create programs to sponsor opportunities for students to aid their communities. The Ciudad Juárez Technology HUB is unique in that it is backed entirely by industry. These days there is a shared focus between academia and industry. It is one that promotes high technology in Mexico as a new career focus. As a result, young entrepreneurs and technology professionals are springing up throughout this fertile landscape shaping a new era for the country.
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