A training session for 'YouTubers' at Guadalajara's Creative Digital City. A training session for 'YouTubers' at Guadalajara's Creative Digital City.

High tech in Jalisco: is it Mexico’s future?

They built a digital city in Guadalajara and an industry was born

Babies born today will be 32 years old in 2050 when the United States will not be the No. 1 economy in the world (it will be No. 3) and next-door Mexico will be right behind the U.S. in economic size (No. 5 or No. 7, depending on the study).


That is projected by experts. But what of today?

From Business Insider: “Mexico is the 11th-largest economy in the world with free access to the largest economy in the world . . . not to mention vast amounts of American investment pouring in . . . Mexico is seen as a land of drug dealers. But this perception is like viewing the United States as if it were Chicago in the 1920s and 1930s and the typical American as Al Capone.”

While most Americans think of Mexico as a third-world country, those who live on the border, those who see Mexicans every day, those who do business in Mexico, know that it is not.

Guadalajara is the high-tech capital of Mexico. It is a higher-education center with quality public and private universities producing thousands of science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates annually.

The Mexican state of Jalisco (Guadalajara is its capital) has 12 universities, including the prestigious Tecnológico de Monterrey, creating 85,000 graduates in IT a year. In the past four years an estimated US $120 million has been invested in more than 300 high-tech start-ups.

Mexico, surprisingly, ranks well in the world with engineering graduates — about half the number of U.S. engineering graduates with only one-third the population.


Guadalajara has a security-tight high-tech complex, Guadalajara Creative Digital City, headquartered in a former shopping mall. It was founded by a public/private partnership led by the Jalisco state government. The state leased more than 100,000 square feet and built it up into individually wired turnkey work spaces and charged high-tech start-ups minimal rent.

In they came, one and two-person operations, small cohorts of educated men and women, young and old, who knew what ones and zeroes do when properly put together. An industry was born.

That effort continues. However, the days of one and two-person firms has passed, replaced by firms with dozens and even hundreds of people churning out more than $21 billion worth of tech products that are exported all over the world — in particular, to the United States.

“Itexico” is one of those start-ups that is maturing in Guadalajara with offices in Austin, Chicago and Mountain Valley, Calif. It was founded by Guillermo Ortega, a Mexican engineer, and Anurag Kumar, also an engineer and an Indian immigrant to America. Kumar is the CEO of the company. It has grown from a staff of a half-dozen to 170.

Need a mobile app, original software, software maintenance? Need geographic or time-zone convenience, or fluent English-speaking contractors? Ortega and Kumar explained to this writer (in better English than I speak) why their American/Mexican facilities are better to deal with than firms in Europe or Asia.

Convenience is the key word, and language is next, with time-zone relativity closing the deal. Well-educated people working with ones and zeros from top universities, including MIT and California State University, who speak the same language make working with Guadalajara totally more desirable than working with Singapore, Hong Kong or Moscow.

The beginning: Mexican manufacturing grew exponentially when giant American manufacturers flooded into Mexico in the 1980s and 1990s to take advantage of wages, the peso, geography and transportation to the world’s largest market, the U.S. Then, China entered the global industrial scene and, in 2001, Mexico found itself with empty manufacturing facilities left behind when plants moved to China for lower wages. The nascent Mexican auto industry took up some of the unemployed but other efforts were needed.

The brightest Mexican minds gathered and commissioned the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and consulting firm Accenture to conduct a study of how to fill the employment gap left behind by Chinese-bound companies.

The public/private partnership to help high-tech start-ups was suggested; it was organized. The 14-year-long leader is retired Hewlett-Packard executive and engineer Julio Acevedo García, who revels in the non-paid job. He works at it unpaid full time.

Itexico founders and partners Ortega and Kumar told us about their first days in business and how they grew and continue to grow. Their pitch made sense to customers, and referrals provide 70% of their business. Today, Itexico has 170 employees; in five years, it projects 1,000. Today, Mexico’s high-tech industry accounts for $21 billion in exports; in five years, maybe $100 billion?

Mexico could be the fifth largest economy in the world in 2050. Will it be led by high-tech in Guadalajara? Maybe.

Raoul Lowery Contreras is the author of “The Armenian Lobby & American Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.

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  • cooncats

    It won’t happen unless the corruption is curbed. And that won’t happen unless the PRI and their buddies in the Cartels are dealt with.

    The U.S. economy is outgrowing Mexico’s now the corrupt and job killing Obama regime is gone. Unfortunately the corrupt and job killing Peña Nieto regime and its band of revenue robbers are still very much in evidence.

    • WestCoastHwy


      Gotta love your blue collar mentality but it’s just a little more complicated than that; it would be to easy if the “head” was in control in your analogy.
      The primary element you needed to include is “Venture Capital” or VC but not VD…..So, Mexicans don’t understand that spending all the VC on Banda Parties is a High Tech killer!

      I hope that “edumacates” you a little.

    • Mike S

      US GDP under 8 years of Obama averaged about 2.5% growth. It is forecast to be the same 2017-2020. Inflation under Obama was about 2%. Trump will be lucky to hang on to that low number now that he is running BIG deficits during “good” economic times. Obama halved the unemployment rate. Trump has brought it down an additional 15% in his first 400 days and that is likely the bottom. DJIA went up about 300% during Obama’s 8 years. So far under Trump it is up about 15% but that 15% is likely a sugar high from his big tax cuts for corporations. Number of uninsured/under-insured Americans hit an all-time historic low under Obama. Most experts think that will rise dramatically under Trump. Obama handed Trump a solid economy unlike what Bush gave Obama. Trump is trickle-down on steroids with big deficits and massive tax cuts for the 1%. Trickle-down has never worked and I predict another BIG recession in next 4 years. Mexico is trying very hard to expand and diversify its export markets and to attract more foreign investment. My prediction is that the Mexican economy will grow slightly faster than US economy in next 8 years.

      • dave jones

        I guess no response to real data. the statement “job killing” makes on sense at all – huge numbers of jobs created in the 8 years, after massive losses by bush. trump’s economy is just Obama’s but slower now

        • Mike S

          I would agree that Trump’s first year he was riding the coat tails of what he inherited from Obama. The real Trump economy starts in 2018 as is always the case after an 8 year previous president. Trump has had the luxury of all 3 branches of government plus most state governments being under GOP control. More jobs were added in 2016 than in 2017. Trump also is having the luxury of Europe coming out of its protracted recession and China stabilizing. I saw that our trade imbalance with China rose 9% in 2017…not good and makes Trump’s campaign promises of cracking down on China look hollow. Unless there is a change in the House & Senate, expect Ryan and Trump to go after SS & Medicare/Medicaid after November under the pretense they are driving up deficits. Expect no action on green/clean/renewable energy…China & Europe will be leading that job-producing revolution. A tax holiday for US corporations bringing back money they hid overseas will get Trump by a year and that’s what he is looking for. Long-tern, the Trump economy will be a disaster with huge deficits, a gutted EPA, diminished trade, poor wage growth, rising trade imbalances, greater numbers of uninsured/under-insured, and finally another major recession…probably around 2020.

          • dave jones

            agree with you there – a financial guru who predicted 2008 – thinks the same thing, I read yesterday.

  • Güerito

    Blah, blah, blah.

    In just the last week, NGO’s published reports showing:

    1. Mexico fell to # 135 out of 180 countries studied in the World Corruption Perceptions Index. (tied with Russia)

    2. Mexico fell to # 92 out of 113 countries on The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index. (below Russia)

  • alance

    Mexican public education is deplorable in primary and secondary schools. The dropout rate is huge. The teachers are politicized and unionized and beyond governmental control. The teachers setup roadblocks on public highways, steal buses and other vehicles, and sometimes set them on fire. This month they have even blocked railroad tracks preventing the delivery of new cars to port cities for export.

  • faithandhonor

    Until Mexican politicians stop trying to import successful businesses from other countries, and grow their own from the ground up, MX will always be poor and deficient. (I am looking at YOU, Mr. Governor of Jalisco, ever trying to steal tech businesses from Silicon Valley.

    Grow YOUR OWN businesses, here, with local people, and provide a good education and job opportunities. Stop stealing, start GROWING.