Ciudad Juárez is the last stop for thousands of Mexicans leaving our nation to pursue opportunities in the United States. Immigrating to a foreign country’s economy takes hard work, ingenuity and deep personal sacrifice. Many maybe unaware, but Mexicans moving to the U.S. are exhibiting elevated levels of entrepreneurial qualities. It should come as no surprise that, according to Kauffman Foundation, immigrants into the U.S. account for around one quarter of the country’s entrepreneurs, patent filings and inventions, while only making up 15% of the U.S. population.
High skilled Mexican professionals and innovators who are creating jobs and making industry discoveries are finding world class opportunities at the forefront of academia and business in the U.S. Some examples that spring to mind are Professor Karen Lozano who transformed the materials industry with the development of nano fiber technology at the base of U.S. company FibeRio Technology. Other examples include microbiologist Ignacio Chapela who revealed the potential threat of GMO’s to diverse corn and food varieties as well as David del Ser, founder of Frogtek, a U.S. company that develops pay solutions for Latino businesses and shopkeepers.
According to Education Researcher Alma Maldonado, of the 30,000 Mexicans with doctorate degrees, 11,000 of them live in the United States. Many remain there, allowing the U.S. to benefit from Mexican enterprise and Mexican’s contributions to innovation and research and development.
Turning The Tides of Mexico’s Brain Drain
In 2015, U.S. Pew Research data revealed that for the first time in half a century more Mexicans were leaving the United States than arriving. With changing U.S. sentiment toward foreign workers, increasing U.S. limits on employment and study opportunities for talented immigrants, this trickling back of Mexican talent is set to turn into a flowing pipeline.
Harnessing the Brain Gain
Here in Ciudad Juárez we’ve developed an entrepreneurial ecosystem for Mexican innovators and high skilled workers to come back and contribute their skills and enterprise. Operating in the 1.8 acre refurbished former U.S. Consulate compound, Technology HUB was created to detonate collaborative innovation and position Ciudad Juárez as the center of gravity in North America.
Our incubator works to awaken Juarenses’ entrepreneurial mentalities, demanded by the ever evolving world of tech development. We connect industry and startups with innovative business development and sources of global investment. Since our 2015 inception, we’ve guided Ciudad Juarez companies like Traceablity, Level Up Coaching & Human Development and Negawatt Industries as they’ve adapted cutting edge technologies and undertaken business in Mexico and around the world. Last year, we cut the ribbon on a Virtual Reality development demonstration facility and our Fab Lab- a workspace equipped with 3D printing and computer controlled tools for entrepreneurs to design and prototype advanced manufacturing products.
Innovating Beyond Skilled Jobs and Enterprise
Regional industry, government and education stakeholders choose to fund and partner in economic innovation development projects because successes are far reaching. Economic studies indicate that for every innovation job, five more non-tech jobs are created. More jobs and work for Juarez’s lawyers, carpenters, hair dressers and waiters- you get the picture.
Establishing an Innovation Community for the Next Generation
While awaiting the return of even more skilled Mexicans, Technology HUB is working to foster better opportunities so future innovators won’t need to leave the region to get to the forefront of entrepreneurial tech, make connections or upskill. There is a lot more work to be done, yet we are making important strides in the process.
One of our first initiatives; Kids2Code has been laying the building blocks of a tech workforce and a Juárez innovation community for our city’s future. The program offers interactive robotics and programing workshops for elementary school kids to attend after school and over the school holidays.
Last year we hosted RESET; the largest bi-national entrepreneurial event in the metropolitan region along the U.S./Mexico border, alongside Black Labs, Fundación Axcel and Transtelco. More than 3,500 university students came to Tech HUB to be inspired by industry leaders from Amazon, MIT, National Geographic, NASA and Marvel Comics, among many others.
Mexicans once came to the old Ciudad Juárez U.S. consulate in the thousands in hopes of finding a better life in the United States- they are still coming, but now it is to build opportunities here in Mexico.
Photo Credits: Luis Pegut