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Silicon Valley of Mexico: Gateway to possibilities

Posted by Chad O'Connor  March 6, 2013 11:00 AM

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[Editor's Note: In case you missed Global Business Hub Contributor Ellen Keiley's segment on RadioBDC earlier this week, you can listen to it here.]

We take a slight deviation from our regular Help a MassChallenge Startup series this week to talk about an exciting new international partnership for MassChallenge in Mexico.

Two new partnerships bring a vibrant and growing Mexican tech cluster closer to the already prominent innovation economy in Massachusetts. The goal is to open doors for entrepreneurs and industry leaders on both sides of the border to broaden their potential markets and increase opportunities for collaboration and business.

The World Class Cities Partnership (WCCP) joined newly elected City of Zapopan Mayor Hector Robles for a rare and special signing ceremony during a formal session of the Zapopan City Council. The official document, which inducted Zapopan and the region of Guadalajara (the Silicon Valley of Mexico) into the WCCP network, formalized the partnership between Zapopan (signed by Mayor Robles), university Tec de Monterrey (signed by Director of Innovation & Regional Development, Alfredo Ortíz) and the WCCP (signed by Founder & Executive Director, Mike Lake). The agreement brings the Mexican city into the network that includes Boston, Vancouver, Barcelona, Dublin, Lisbon, Lyon, Hamburg and Haifa. Membership requires the commitment of each participating municipality, at least one academic institution and a Local Advisory Board of private sector leaders. The organization is focused on applied research while working to apply lessons learned abroad for local impact.

Among the first achievements of the WCCP's new partnership was the facilitation of an agreement between the Zapopan and MassChallenge. The resulting agreement launches a new initiative called “Reto Zapopan” in which the most promising ventures in the city-sponsored startup accelerator earn the opportunity to come to Massachusetts to participate in MassChallenge’s prestigious international competition.

Photo courtesy City of Zapopan

(L-R) Scott Bailey, MassChallenge;
Mayor Hector Robles, Zapopan;
Mike Lake, World Class Cities Partnership

The World Class Cities Partnership, based at Northeastern University, initiated discussions between MassChallenge and Mayor Robles, the Zapopan representative to the WCCP’s Summit in Boston, who published a book on the role of knowledge economies and contributed to the creation of the WCCP’s first ever report on talent attraction and retention strategies being released later this month.

That report, titled Talent Magnets: Cities and Universities Building the Workforce for a Knowledge Economy, focuses on distinct initiatives that have proven successful in combatting the attrition of top talent. In Guadalajara, for instance, the federal government broke ground in August on a new “Digital Creative City” which aims to be the most important media cluster in Latin America.

Recognizing the issue of talent flows as a regional issue requiring a regional strategy, Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson and Cambridge City Councilor Leland Cheung are preparing to hold a joint committee meeting to explore the question further. They announced the historic joint session during the World Class Cities Partnership’s Chatham Forum in January. The hearing is set for March 28th.

As Massachusetts’ companies are increasingly seeking opportunities to grow and expand operations on the global stage, these partnerships serve to build ties to one of the United States’ most vital trading partners. As Governor Deval Patrick said recently, “We cannot afford to sit idle as our competitors develop the partnerships and secure the investments that will create jobs in the innovation industries where we already have an advantage - life sciences, clean energy, and the digital technologies.” By tightening the ties between the knowledge-based economy of Guadalajara and Zapopan with Massachusetts, the state stands to gain important economic and institutional bonds that spur economic development and create jobs.

Mike Lake is Founder & Executive Director and Ian Sample is Operations Director of the World Class Cities Partnership at Northeastern University.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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