Fernando Turner
Minister of Economy and Labor
State of Nuevo Leon
View from the Top

Transitioning to a Digital Economy

Wed, 02/21/2018 - 11:21

Q: What strategies is the government of Nuevo Leon implementing to boost the digital revolution and Industry 4.0 (I4.0) practices?

A: The digital revolution is already underway and will generate profound and drastic changes that will affect all aspects of our lives. For this reason, we have decided that as a government we must encourage the incorporation of this trend into our economy and our production processes. About a year ago, we began to analyze this change to decide how to approach it. Our action plan includes the creation of a council that has as members university deans, the business community, members of the state government and a representative of the federal government. It is interesting that even though the initiative came from the government, it was quickly embraced by society. We see enthusiasm from all those involved and I believe that the initiative will allow Nuevo Leon to advance and solidify its position among the world’s production platforms.

Q: What concrete actions is the council taking to support the digital revolution within the state?

A: We are working on a strategy called Nuevo Leon 4.0, which includes not only manufacturing but also services, government, agribusiness, health and information technologies. The strategy includes three lines of action: the first is the coordination and mobilization of social players toward the digital revolution; the second is to provide the general public with information through the media, unions and so on; the third line of action is ensuring that universities and schools adjust their study programs to generate the knowledge and skills that will be required in the coming years. To accomplish this, we have outlined a series of skills that our students must develop and we have asked companies to develop productive projects that include I4.0 practices. So far, we have around 67 projects that companies have submitted. The idea is to select between 10 and 12 and support them. The projects must be feasible, have the backing of companies that possess the needed capital to see them through and can be completed in a relatively short time. Our goal is to have around 10 productive units that incorporate I4.0 practices within a maximum period of 24 months. 

Q: How can I4.0 be implemented in sectors such as agribusiness?

A: There are already around 100 to 150 companies in the world that are incorporating I4.0 practices into the agricultural sector. The concept of agriculture is bound to change and everything will now be monitored electronically. Land, climate, water, nutrients and so on, will be analyzed, monitored and controlled from afar. We foresee that each plant will have sensors that will analyze how much water and nutrients it is receiving. These sensors will also detect which plants are receiving the needed water and nutrients yet are still not growing. Chemistry and ratios of water and nutrients can then be immediately adjusted to ensure the crop continues growing. Transportation and product behavior will also be factored into the equation. 

Q: What challenges could hinder the state’s economic growth?

A: Everything can be a challenge and at the same time an opportunity. This changing environment offers significant opportunities for young people with fresh ideas and for businesses to boom without the need for capital, such as Uber or Airbnb. Still, I believe the main challenge is to adapt to a new economy and new ways of doing business. The main challenge for the country is our refusal to change. 

Q: A significant portion of the state’s economy is intertwined with the US economy. How does the US administration affect Nuevo Leon’s economy?

A: We are interdependent, we have a relationship in which both countries and economies matter, but it would be plain wrong to assume that the entire Mexican economy is dependent on the US. Globalization has led to an increase in foreign trade across the entire world and the US remains the largest consumer on the planet. The trade relationship we enjoy is not a byproduct of NAFTA; it is part of a global trend.