Interview : Fernando Turner Dávila
What initiatives are being taken to ensure a high level of foreign direct investment in the state?
FERNANDO TURNER: The main initiative to make the state even more attractive to foreign companies is the Nuevo León 4.0 programme. We want to make the state an innovative global manufacturing platform for the development and creation of new products, as this will make Nuevo León unique in Mexico. This initiative will not only incentivise foreign investment, but also allow local companies to prosper and compete globally.
Apart from this initiative, the state has a large technically trained workforce, a solid energy capacity and developed transport links with the US and the rest of the country. Most importantly, we have a strong supply chain that gives us a competitive advantage, allowing us to be more attractive to investors than other states.
How can investments in the energy sector enhance the local supply ecosystem?
TURNER: The construction of new energy projects not only in Nuevo León but throughout Mexico represents an opportunity to develop a supply chain in the sector. Prior to reform, such a supply chain was not mature enough due to state monopolies. This therefore represents an immense development opportunity. Nuevo León is well prepared to receive companies in the sector, given its extensive manufacturing industry in metalwork, electronics and other segments.
The state is looking to position itself as the ideal area for energy companies to invest in, by taking advantage of its existing economic environment to further develop its operations. This would be the primary benefit that the implementation of the energy reform would achieve for the state. Nuevo León is working on a development strategy to provide small and medium-sized enterprises with opportunities in the energy sector, with a number of renewable energy projects planned, including a 35-MW solar facility in Galaeana, and wind farms in the municipalities of China, Mina and General Bravo.
How can the state promote collaboration among universities and public and private entities?
TURNER: Nuevo León has the advantage of having spent a decade improving the triple-helix model in the form of clusters. The cluster is the optimal way for government, universities and private companies to cooperate. With the Nuevo León 4.0 initiative the state is creating a technology cluster, wherein companies can express their needs and collaborate with universities to generate both an educational offering and conduct research that helps meet the needs of the industry.
In Mexico you can develop any industry, assuming there are opportunities and demand, but there are feasibility issues. However, technology and communications are strong enough that hiring experts to develop an industry is unnecessary. The main challenges moving forward will be amending government policy, improving financing and infrastructure to create a market and, most importantly, changing public mentality. This should initially be done using the clusters; as they have access to all key actors and are in the best position to develop new ideas in the economy.
What level of digital transformation needs to take place for companies to adopt Industry 4.0?
TURNER: We have all the necessary ingredients for companies to start adopting Industry 4.0. There is no reason why the state could not have the same technology as countries such as Germany or Japan.
The fundamental issue is the economic viability of sectoral investment. The state is trying to persuade companies to anticipate change, with relatively modest investments being supported by the state to accelerate new technologies. The relationship with universities is key to this process, given that the creation of technology centres allows companies to experiment with innovation through relatively low investments. The state is coordinating with universities to put the best robotics and big data laboratories at their disposal.
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