Restructuring, Strengthening The State’s BackboneFri, 12/01/2017 - 10:34
Q: What are your goals as the newly elected president of the aerocluster?
A: My first commitment is to local SMEs. The aerocluster was not created to support large companies, such as Bombardier, Safran, Aernnova or ITP. Its main objective is to support SMEs and their integration into the local supply chain. Large, foreign companies will see long-term benefits from the cluster in the shape of a consolidated supply chain. My second goal is to increase the number of members and for them to participate more actively in the cluster. Queretaro Aerocluster’s current board of directors incorporates three representatives from the industry and three from academia, research centers and the government organizations. Our goal is to duplicate these numbers to generate a larger collaboration that can deal with a growing membership.
Q: How many members does the cluster have and how do you expect to grow this number?
A: The state has approximately 80 aerospace companies, of which 50 percent are members of Queretaro Aerocluster. However, out of these 40 members only six are SMEs. Our goal is to attract more companies by showcasing the added value the cluster offers to these companies. By the end of 2017, our target is to increase our membership by 15 percent and to incorporate another 14 SMEs within the next three or four years.
Q: How important is it for the cluster to collaborate with other states?
A: We are increasing our collaboration with other clusters both within and outside of Mexico. For instance, Mexico’s five aerospace clusters signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FEMIA during FAMEX to promote collaboration among all signatories. Queretaro Aerocluster has also signed MOUs with San Antonio’s Chamber of Commerce in Texas and with Spain’s HEGAN-Basque Aerospace Cluster. We need to improve the relationship between clusters because it makes no sense for Mexico to have an aerospace cluster for each state. Because economic resources are also limited it is necessary to create a proper investment strategy for the industry. Queretaro Aerocluster will talk to FEMIA and the other Mexican clusters as well as local and federal entities to create a rational and integral plan for growing the sector.
Q: What initiatives is the cluster developing to support Mexican SMEs?
A: The cluster has four commissions: technology and research, employment and training, supply chain and SMEs. This last commission researches and addresses the main challenges SMEs are facing and develops support mechanisms for them. Entering the aerospace sector is hard for an SME unless it has the support of a large entity like an aerocluster. New companies often lack the necessary certifications and capabilities and knowledge of how to acquire them. We can provide guidance and help them reach larger companies.
Q: What initiatives is the cluster developing to strengthen Queretaro’s supply chain?
A: This is our main priority for 2017. At this point we are mapping the demands of the larger companies in the cluster. Once this information is compiled it will be made public to let existing and future companies know our needs, which can translate into business opportunities. This information will be useful for existing companies in Queretaro and to those in Mexico and abroad that are interested in investing or coming to Queretaro. I know of a few cases where companies opened offices in the state without performing their due diligence and suffered a lack of demand for their products and services.
Q: What other challenges are aerospace companies facing in Queretaro?
A: One problem companies face is acquiring qualified professionals. We have many universities and training centers for engineers and technicians but we require even more.