Jalisco, the Door to InnovationSat, 09/01/2018 - 12:43
Jalisco has been singled out as a technological hub and even known by some as the Mexican “Silicon Valley.” As the automotive industry becomes more technological, Alexandro Burgueño, Director General of the Jalisco Automotive Cluster, sees an opportunity for the state to support Mexico’s transition into an advanced industrial future. “We must take advantage of our experience and foster the creation of more R&D and engineering centers so we can move away from mere manufacturing,” he says. “This should be a priority not only for Tier 1 suppliers like Flex and Continental but also for local Tier 2 and Tier 3 companies.”
To successfully participate in this growing industry, Jalisco must first consolidate its position as a true automotive cluster. “Many companies think we are late to the game but we still see many opportunities to support Jalisco’s automotive future,” says Burgueño. The new cluster’s Director General says that because of OEMs’ preference to invest in Guanajuato and Queretaro, Jalisco had been somewhat neglected as an automotive region. This is now changing. Lagos de Moreno alone has received investment from 20 new companies, mainly from Japan and Germany. “These players have realized the benefits of investing in Lagos de Moreno, mostly because of its closeness to Guanajuato and Aguascalientes,” he says.
Since its establishment on Jan. 20, 2017, the Jalisco Automotive Cluster has attracted 30 members, 10 of which are Tier 1 companies and the rest Tier 2s and Tier 3s. Being a newly launched cluster, many companies including Honda are still waiting to see how it develops. This has encouraged Burgueño and his team to find the best way to connect companies with local suppliers and establish training programs for the Jalisco workforce.
The cluster’s priority is to identify new companies that can participate in automotive activities and the main areas of opportunity to strengthen the local supply chain. It also evaluates the capabilities of the existing suppliers and offers training for future certification processes. “The endgame is to first have a clear perspective of what we have so we can set clear goals in terms of investment attraction and export growth,” says Burgueño. The cluster has already identified between 140 and 150 companies that could participate and it is analyzing each player and selecting those with the best opportunity to flourish in the industry. “In the end, we expect to move forward with 90-100 companies and to establish clear objectives to fill the gaps in Jalisco’s supply chain.”
The cluster is also looking for new investment through promotional campaigns in countries such as Japan and Germany. According to Burgueño, Jalisco is entering a collaboration with other automotive clusters in Mexico, mainly the Automotive Cluster of the State of Mexico, to build a general strategy that can help the whole country attract new investment. “We do not want to compete with other clusters,” he says. “The best way we can move forward as a country is by taking advantage of what other regions are doing and finding the best way to collaborate.”
Although clusters have a common goal toward investment promotion, Burgueño also sees this collaboration as an opportunity to boost R&D and engineering operations. “Once we define our goals and areas of opportunity, we will definitely put the topic on the table,” he says. “Our board is working on the creation of a Competitive Technology Intelligence Observatory to support the development of R&D activities in the state.”
There are already efforts from the public sector to boost technology development originating in the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology. Similarly, the Guadalajara government has created a master plan for what is now called the Ciudad Creativa Digital (Digital Creative City), focused on promoting digitalization and creating an environment for design and innovation. The private sector and academic institutions are also riding the wave, with companies like Bosch and Continental establishing important design centers in the region and ITESM creating an institute focused on the car of the future. “We want the cluster to be the integrating force that unites all initiatives oriented to the automotive sector,” Burgueño says. “That way, we can orient all efforts toward the latest trends in the industry and encourage more companies to participate.”