What has been termed Latin America’s first generative AI Lab is being built in Guadalajara. And Wizeline will be a key architect.
Wizeline and Tec de Monterrey will build a generative AI lab in Guadalajara, a city regarded as Mexico’s equivalent to Silicon Valley. The project (named GAIL) aims to power up Mexico’s AI capabilities, becoming a fountain of innovation and expertise in the field and an accelerator of the local tech ecosystem.
Given Wizeline’s direct involvement, GAIL is also poised to become a major component in the company’s business strategy. For Wizeline, this means privileged access to what promises to be one of the region’s main sources of innovation and a tighter relationship with one of Mexico’s top universities for tech engineers.
The details: Wizeline will invest around US$1.5 million in GAIL.
- US$500,000 to build the lab itself, located within Tec’s Guadalajara campus.
- US$1 million in direct scholarships for students wishing to study AI-related disciplines at a graduate or postgraduate level.
- Though the physical lab is expected to be ready by 2024, it will begin in-campus operations this year.
Partnered with Tec de Monterrey for G. AI. L – Latin America's 1st Gen AI Lab. Combining tech & education, offering $1M scholarships in 5 years. Thanks, Tec & all! 🎉
🇪🇸: https://t.co/6tLFbN4slO pic.twitter.com/G320Lpq7Ij
— Wizeline (@wizelineglobal) October 12, 2023
The results: Wizeline sees GAIL as a generator of new products, services and overall ideas for GenAI.
- The lab will also be a hub for open source technology, workshops, training programs and information about the development of AI in the country.
- According to Wizeline, industry players (within and outside of IT) will have access to this open source technology and to data on the technology’s progress.
- Students, professors and researchers at Tec de Monterrey will get access to cutting-edge GenAI platforms and services, such as ChatGPT, Bard and Dall-E, as well as to industry expertise provided by Wizeline workers at the premises.
Calling dibs: Although GAIL has been talked-up as an accelerator of Guadalajara’s tech ecosystem, it’s still a Wizeline investment. Other software development and IT consultancy firms (Wizeline’s competitors) might have access to open source products developed at the lab, but not to the premises themselves.
- “We have yet to discuss if we will invite other IT consulting firms to collaborate in the lab. [GAIL] is part of Wizeline’s differentiators. It will be one of our strategic investments,” explained Wizeline CTO Anibal Abarca in an interview. “It’s a project by Wizeline and Tec de Monterrey. The plan is that it remains as such.”
Tighter and tighter: Wizeline has for years fostered a tight relationship with Tec. In February of this year, the company opened what is effectively an office within Tec’s Monterrey campus. Back in 2018, Wizeline Academy launched a program to certify Tec graduates in IT skills.
Wizeline’s investment in GAIL will surely make that relationship grow tighter, and its presence in the lab has the potential to turn the company into a more attractive destination for graduates.
- “We might have access [to students], because we’ll get to know them. Our job is to make attractive employment offers to them,” commented Abarca. “We’ll be close, but we’re already close in other respects. Wizeline Academy, for one.”
- Abarca estimates that more than half of the people that end up working for the company “had some sort of contact with Wizeline Academy beforehand.”
- Wizeline CEO Bizmarck Lepe has mentioned that about 25% of “wizeliners” are graduates from Tec de Monterrey.
Accelerating business: GAIL might become a storefront of sorts for Wizeline’s products and services. Abarca stated that the company sees potential customers coming to the lab in search of solutions that could be provided by Wizeline.
- “We see companies coming with problems or projects that are beyond the lab’s scope. That’s where Wizeline can come in and offer solutions,” he said.
- “We expect that our clients will benefit from the lab, but we also expect it to provide new growth opportunities for Wizeline, having our organization benefit from the experience and expertise that we will develop there,” Abarca added. “Of course, to us, GAIL represents an avenue to accelerate our sales strategy.”
NSAM’s Take: Wizeline isn’t the only company in the tech services space betting on partnerships with Latin American universities. Infosys has internship programs with top schools in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Argentina; TCS has built its own partnership with Tec de Monterrey; Enrique Cortes, one of Ksquare Group’s top executives in Latin America, is the director of Tec’s AI Hub.
However, Wizeline seems to be taking the game to a whole new level. The company, which already has an office within a Tec campus, now will have its own Wizeline-branded center for innovation at the school.
Talent (people, experience, expertise and innovative brains) remains the most relevant asset for tech providers in any region. We don’t see Wizeline monopolizing Tec’s graduates, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the company gets early access to the most promising young minds the school produces.
Tec de Monterrey is already highly regarded as one of the region’s best institutions for STEM education. By tightening its relationship with the school and helping to build a Silicon Valley-inspired innovation ecosystem, Wizeline looks well positioned to project itself as one of the go-to service providers when it comes to cutting-edge solutions.
We have to wonder, though, what this means for the chances of other service providers in Mexico at developing such tight partnerships with Tec de Monterrey or other universities. We don’t see Tec opening space for other companies within its campus, and there aren’t many private universities in Mexico with the cachet that Tec holds.
For now at least, Wizeline seems to be in a great competitive position.