Queretaro: An Aerospace PowerhouseBy Miriam Bello | Thu, 04/28/2022 - 10:33
Queretaro’s aerospace industry has been growing steadily during the past ten years, gaining relevance in Mexico and abroad. The state has become a key destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) thanks to the conditions the state offered to entrepreneurs in the aerospace sector, agree experts.
Among its strengths, Queretaro has highly qualified personnel at various technical and professional levels thanks to its numerous universities and training centers, which include Mexico’s only aeronautical university, Universidad Aeronáutica en Querétaro (UNAQ). “Talent is one of the state’s long-term strengths,” said Enrique Sosa, Dean, UNAQ. “Thus, we need to focus on developing more human capital and build new skills to attract more processes in line with the needs of the sector.” Nonetheless, Queretaro still has a gap to close regarding gender equality. Few women are entering this field, so “we need to break gender roles to encourage their participation,” said Sosa.
The state also provides continued political stability that led to the development of a six-year strategy to support the aerospace industry and others. The sector is now focusing on developing numerous technologies, including high power electronics, propulsion systems, satellites and the space industry. “The latter means that the state needs to develop more infrastructure, more capacity to broaden the panorama of investment and offer more competitive, trained professionals for the companies that need it,” said Sosa.
R&D could be strengthened as a result of more investment in talent and infrastructure, supported by the triple helix and other players. “[Queretaro] has excelled thanks to the joint work from academia, the private sector and government, but other actors could play a role,” said Jorge Gutiérrez de Velasco, Airport Manager, AIQ. The state’s industries and economy could benefit from incorporating these other players into the triple helix.
“Society and sustainability need to join the helix if we are working toward the net-zero emissions goal for 2050,” said Marco del Prete Tercero, Queretaro’s Minister of Sustainable Development. The state’s government is building bridges to facilitate the work of the helix, said del Petre: “We have implemented a close relationship with groups from the organized society and we wish to integrate them to continue growing in line with environmental and development goals.”
Industrial parks and Queretaro´s strategic location are fundamental for the state’s success in the aerospace sector. “These characteristics have allowed for the arrival of key players like Bombardier, GE or Safran, which improved the capacity of our local supply chain,” said Juan Carlos Corral, President, Queretaro Aerospace Cluster.
The state, however, has a pending task in increasing the inclusion of local manufacturing companies into the supply chains of these international players. Supply chains could be strengthened if international players manufacturing in the state would purchase 10 percent of their materials locally, which would also increase “the need for more power and energy, which could be sourced through startups and financial agencies,” said Corral.
Queretaro’s aerospace industry is increasingly expanding its capabilities. For example, it is strengthening its activities in defense and space manufacture and moving toward maintenance-oriented models, which have to be offered in the state’s educational centers to train more people in this field, said del Prete. “The government also wants the state to enter the space industry. With the democratization of space, this is an opportunity that goes beyond satellites. We want a Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency (ALCE) office in Queretaro,” said del Prete. To do so, the government has been working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE) to create an office of ALCE in the state.
Thanks to the aerospace industry, Queretaro has seen job creation, economic growth and technology transfer. Automotive company Vuhl, for example, used aerospace technology to develop one high-tech vehicle “and this is just one example of how much we could support other industries such as pharmaceuticals, information technologies, and so on,” said Carlos Robles, President & Head of Aerospace, AMBE Engineering LLC.
“Countries that work in the aerospace industry train specialized workers, generate more tech and technology transfer and develop an advanced ecosystem, among other benefits. We do not work for the industry, we have this industry as part of our development strategy,” said Corral.