TechBA (Technology Business Accelerators) is a program created by the Mexican Ministry of Economy and operated by the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science. The focus is to help high tech Mexican companies expand into the U.S. and global markets.
Hear more about the program from TechBA’s International CEO Raul Lucido and Arizona’s CEO Haru Yamasaki.
José Cárdenas: With Mexico's population at more than 100 million people, the country has become the 14th economy in the world and the top exporter of Latin America. This has resulted in Mexico becoming an important player when it comes to economic trade in North America. "Techba," short for Technology Business Accelerators, is a program designed to help high-tech companies from Mexico expand into U.S. and global markets. It was created by Mexico's Ministry of Economy and operated by the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science. ASU is a partner with Techba Arizona at Skysong, the ASU Scottsdale Innovation Center. Joining me tonight to talk about the program is Techba Arizona CEO Haru Yamasaki and Techba International CEO Raul Lucido. Thank you both for joining us on "Horizonte." I think it would be helpful, Raul, if you would give us an overview of the current state of the Mexico economy. We talked about it being the 14th largest in the world but what's happening right now?
Raul Lucido: I think about the North America free trade agreement, Mexico has a lot of Phoenix exportation we're moving very fast to the innovation technology. Right now we have a lot of engineers. For example, 450,000 full-time undergrad engineers. Comparing with the United States, that has 375,000. So Mexico is moving fast into the technology. And that's giving us, the small and mid size companies,--- to export with other Americans like the United States, Canada, Spain and the rest of the Latin America.
José Cárdenas: How is Mexico doing this given the current difficult economic climate.
Raul Lucido: I think right now, the situation is very critical, you're right. But Mexico, the innovation technology and the Mexican government are supporting this program in order to give the turnaround to the economy to support the Mexican technology companies.
Raul Lucido: Let's talk about the creation of Techba.
Haru Yamasaki: Sure.
José Cárdenas: How did it happen?
Haru Yamasaki: Techba was created about six, five years ago and a response to the minister of the economy to -- they wanted to create a program to support technology-based companies to become global. So the U.S.-Mexico foundation for science, partnered with the minister of the company, the first Techba was in Silicon Valley and so the program started growing and more Techbas: Austin, Montreal, Detroit, Madrid, and Arizona is the newest one, were established and what we do is we help the top of the top of Mexican high-tech companies to become international.
José Cárdenas: And Raul, you're in charge, overall now of the Techbas. Haru already mentioned some of them. Give us a complete picture of all the locations and what the different Techba locations are doing.
Raul Lucido: The first was in Silicon Valley to take advantage of the I.T. industry and the high-tech companies. The second was in Austin. We have an alliance with the U.T. In order to support those companies. The third one was in Montreal in 2006, And at the end of 2006 it was in Spain and then Arizona and Michigan were created. Right now, the first half the year, we will create two more Techbas. One in Seattle, another one in Vancouver, Canada.
José Cárdenas: What led to the identification of Arizona as a good place to open one of these Techbas?
Raul Lucido: We had detected that Arizona is one of the most powerful and rapped growth economies in this part of the United States and it's a natural ally with northern Mexican states---. And obviously, and I think it was an advantage to be a good neighbor and support both companies on both sides of the country.
José Cárdenas: Tell us what the Techba here in Arizona does to promote business between Arizona and Mexico.
Haru Yamasaki: Absolutely. What we do is really try to find the sort of synergies to create economic development as Raul mentioned on both sides of the border. So we work very specific sectors like aerospace, manufacturing, IT of course and renewable energy. We look at the capabilities not only in Mexico, but also the economic activity in the states in these intersections and try to bring companies that can partner or bring some competitive advantage to the industry and find opportunities for those companies. For example, we're working very heavily on solar energy and the second week of March, 11 solar companies from Mexico will be coming to explore opportunities here in Arizona. Since Arizona wants to be the hub in solar energy, it allows us business opportunities.
José Cárdenas: For something like that, do you identify the Arizona companies that might be interested in doing business with them and set up matchmaking meetings, or how does it work?
Haru Yamasaki: Yes, we identify potential clients companies that can be partners with Mexican companies and we try to set up meetings between the Mexican company and the U.S. company and see what comes out of it.
José Cárdenas: And how are Mexican companies selected to participate?
Haru Yamasaki: Well, there's very -- let's say heavy process that is the whole year. There's a team in Mexico that identifies companies and they go into a lot of filters -- of course, we look that the company has financial ability and consolidated in Mexico. Because when you want to explore a new market, you need that, it's a very key point. But also we look at what is the value proposition of the company. The solidity of the management team. And having those filters, then each responsible of the Techbas, we interview the companies and identify if they can be potential companies for being in Techba.
José Cárdenas: I want to talk more about the company, but before that, Raul, what's the role that the universities play on both sides of the border and in Europe in connection with the Techbas?
Raul Lucido: Normally, Techbas are looking for a strong partner in each of the size of the-- Techbas in order to support the international companies of Mexico. For example--Arizona State University it's an important partnership. We have another alliance with partners in Canada and Spain, and we try to look for who are the best partners in that side in order to support. And they -- that partner, it keeps us -- gives us a lot of support and consultancy and what is the best way for the Mexican companies.
José Cárdenas: Is there a role for the students to be able to participate?
Raul Lucido: Obviously, obviously yes. We're trying to -- to work with the students in order to have benefits from both sides. The students to have the fresh knowledge of the technology and the of these things.
José Cárdenas: And Haru: I saw you nodding you head when I was asking the question about the students. What would the students at ASU be doing if they were involved in Techba?
Haru Yamasaki: Let me tell you that, we have one intern from ASU, but this year, we hired two ASU graduates. So wonderful people, very smart people and they have been a lot of help with Techba. Absolutely.
José Cárdenas: And I understand that this week, there's a reception?
Haru Yamasaki: Yes.
José Cárdenas: For companies. From both Mexico and Arizona?
Haru Yamasaki: Right, right. It's a reception that's by the city of Phoenix and to welcome the new generation of companies that are looking for expansion in Arizona.
José Cárdenas: So you have companies coming from Mexico for the reception?
Haru Yamasaki: Yes, this week we have about 17 companies from Mexico.
José Cárdenas: Representing what kinds of industry?
Haru Yamasaki: I.T. Manufacturing. Medical devices. And aerospace.
José Cárdenas: Raul, one of the things we talked about off-camera in the waiting room, Mexico's role in the multimedia industry which a lot of people would be surprised to know how important it is for Mexico and its prominence in the world market.
Raul Lucido: Mexico is one of the most important-- the top ranked companies in multimedia work and we have a very interesting cluster of multimedia in Monterey and Mexico City and the state of Mexico and we're supporting those companies in the different sites that we have, for instance, Montreal and Arizona, and approximately -- in Vancouver.
José Cárdenas: And some would be e-learning opportunities and other relationships such as that?
Raul Lucido: We have several e-learning companies in the Techba program. And some in Spain and some in America and I think it's very important not only -- the scope is not only to work in this country. With e-learning solution, you can work everywhere. For instance, we have a company in Spain, in Madrid, that is giving a consultancy, for a software program based in Germany world wide. And we have translated this program to Chinese, to Portuguese, to Spain, to Spanish, to English to several languages.
José Cárdenas: If somebody is watching this program, you have an Arizona business owner, and they want to get involved in some fashion, how would they go about doing that?
Haru Yamasaki: There's an internet website. www.Techba.com. And we're located at Washington Street, so any time you want to -- of course, in the website, there's an email address and telephone numbers so any time they want to reach us, we'll be happy.
José Cárdenas: And would they go through some kind of vetting process that's similar to the selection process that you engage in in Mexico?
Haru Yamasaki: A company reaches us here, we have to explore the company and see the potential of the company. If it's ready to be here with us, of course. But, of course, we see companies all the time where -- we're very open to interview companies and meet with companies all the time. We're company hunters, yes.
José Cárdenas: Raul, we talked a little bit about the difficulties in the sense of the current economic climate. But what about the immigration issue. Is that impacting the willingness of Mexican companies to come to Arizona and vice versa?
Raul Lucido: Well I think the business oriented companies is business our business, I think that the minor problems like immigration and all of this matters, I think that it's second level of importance. I think that the companies, the professional companies they know that the market is the market and there's business opportunities. And I think that Techba companies are very focused to keep competitive solutions and services to the American market and that's the main objective. Minor problems like you've mentioned, I think it's secondary.
José Cárdenas: And we've got about 20 seconds left. Any final words on what Techba offers to Mexico and the U.S.?
Haru Yamasaki: Yes, of course. First, I have to say we're very happy to be here in Arizona. This is very exciting emerging technology and the opportunity to be along together and we're here to work with you, absolutely.
José Cárdenas: Haru Yamasaki, Raul Lucido, thanks you both for joining us on "Horizonte."
Haru Yamasaki: Thank you.
Raul Lucido: Thank you very much.
Raul Lucido:TechBA's International CEO;Haru Yamasaki:TechBA's Arizona CEO;