The border between Mexico and the U.S. may be permeable, but technology skills aren’t flowing as freely between the countries as other goods and services. The U.S. is well known for technical innovation and recently, some of that entrepreneurial spirit has began emerging in Latin American markets like Brazil, Chile and Argentina. However, where is the momentum from America’s most proximate neighbor, Mexico?
Economically, Mexico is a large market. It is second only to Brazil in terms of GDP and exceeds the Latin American IT leader in terms of population growth – which may eventually result in a larger pool of workers for skilled jobs.
However, internal grassroots momentum and global technology firm IBM are striving to make the country significantly more competitive as a skilled IT services provider as opposed to low level provider of commoditized services. The maturation of skills in the market will likely be welcome news for a U.S. market that has cities closer to Mexico than neighboring domestic states and a wealth of Spanish speaking natives.
The are a number of positive symbols of Mexico’s forward momentum with IT and services. StartUps Mexico is an internal grassroots organization that is attempting to make it easier to start a technology firm in the country. The organization belives that Mexico has the infrastructure to support many more stratups, but that entrepeuneurs need assistance being connected to the right resources. The group is attempting to be that support network to share ideas.
StartUps Mexico is one many grassroots start-up focused organizations that have taken root in the country. Technical expertise are also being expanded via larger and more established Mexico to US collaborations such as TechBA Silicon Valley, which has aided more than 300 Mexican companies with its mentors and four-week bootcamp programs – including firms in the rapidly expanding software-as-a-service sector.
Mexican.VC which calls itself, Silicon Valley’s First Seed Fund and Mentoring Program for Internet Startups, is also expanding technology skills throughout the nation and growing emerging tech businesses, that hopefully, extend what they have learned to larger Mexican workforce in terms of skills and jobs. Unlike with TechBA, however, businesses are not required to leave their home country for the U.S.
Grassroots momentum is great, but a country a the size of Mexico likely requires more than small to mid-sized collaboration to move forward and dispell notions that its offerings are not of a similar to other Latin American markets. Now it has found the a collaborator of the size it needs.
After an 84-year presence in the country, IBM announced the opening of its first Innovation Center in Mexico, 39 in total for the firm. In spite of the somewhat glacial pace for entrepeunerial support in the emerging market, Mexico is the latest effort by IBM to establish itself in what it sees as “key growth markets” for technology. Mexico joins these other centers for IBM innovation:
• South Africa
The company launched its Global Entrepreneur program in the country simultaneously. The program offers Mexican entrepreneurs free access to IBM resources to accelerate their time to market – something that self-funded grassroots programs are typically unable to provide despite their enthusiasm.
The Innovation Center, in combination with the Entrepeuneur program, is IBMs effort to spur development in market and potentially creat an infrastructure that is more conducive for internal innovation and external investment. IBM is specifically providing access to cloud-computing technologies and experts, business model development, as well as marketing and sales resources, all of which are under developed in the market. Given that Foresterr’s latest research projects a cloud market of $241 billion, Mexican technology service firms would be smart learn all they can from the global player.
Mariana Navarro, Alliances and Innovation Center Manager told Nearshore Americas, “IBM Innovation Center is helping to improve the technology skills in our country in different ways. The IC is Collaboration. With our business partners, the IC has helped to improve the solutions in hardware, software, test [and improve the running] with the latest versions of IBM technology, which allows them to deliver to customers the latest technology. The IC is open to universities for students and developers to learn and apply new, innovative technology, now.”
Privately held Mexican startups in business for less than three years and actively developing software using IBM’s Smarter Planet products are also elgible to participate in the program.
The same model has been used to launch more than 500 new businesses worldwide. IBMs efforts aren’t purely benevolent. By creating a network of skilled providers in the countries they are reducing their operating barriers and creating low cost partner network to sell their products services right at the doors of the U.S. market.