One of the first clusters to be established in Nuevo Leon was the automotive cluster. At the beginning it was a consulting council of the automotive industry aimed at attracting the investment of an assembly plant in Nuevo Leon. At that time, I mean at the end of 2006 beginning of 2007, Toyota had announced it was going to open a plant in Mexico. Different states started fighting for that investment. The governor and some business had the initiative to create that consulting council here. The president of the consulting council was Enrique Zambrano de Proeza. Through Metalsa, which is related to the automotive industry, Enrique starts calling businessmen of the automotive sector to participate and strengthen this, and lay the foundations to say the state is ready to bring an assembly plant. This consulting council evolved into a cluster, an NGO, the automotive cluster becomes an NGO, non-profit organization, to receive funds from the government and companies. With this triple helix we receive funds from the state government and all the companies including the academy. The academy contributes with a fee and also with its facilities and services. It contributes with a series of things to this cluster. These clusters are oriented to the state’s strategic sectors. There are nine of them at the moment. There is an automotive cluster, one of the most developed ones, nanotechnology, aerospace industry, agrifood, IT, housing, health, biotechnology and electrical appliances. These nine clusters represent nine strategic sectors established by the state government. What happened? Last year the governor created a consulting council of all the structure, a state council of clusters. And a presidency was created. I was leaving the presidency of the cluster and I was appointed president of this state council of clusters. I have been working there for 6 or 7 months and the goal is that these clusters work, are aligned to the state long-term economic development plan. Thus, there will be uniform work between the state’s economic policy and the state’s strategic sectors. The council of clusters is the link. By means of the council of clusters, all the clusters will work aligned or oriented to the state development plan.
This has been working for 6 or 7 months. How is it going?
One of our achievements was bringing the World Council of Clusters to Nuevo Leon. The World Council of Clusters will take place in Nuevo Leon in 2014. It has been a great achievement because it means Nuevo Leon is the national clusterization leader. It is an association aimed at having more competitive companies in the sector. Which are your best practices in HR, which are your best manufacturing practices, how are you saving energy, I mean, that cooperation is required to have a more competitive sector, even if they are direct competitors. If I have a more competitive sector I will attract more investments. The main goal would be to attract an assembly plant, but we have found there is a big opportunity to substitute imports in some segments of the automotive industry. You will find the same thing in other places. Nuevo Leon can be a very important health center for the south of the US. People living in the south of the US can be assisted here, as we used to go to Houston before.
That was my question. You are different from chambers because you do not represent interests before factual powers.
We are in charge of the operative part, the strategic and business development part.
You have an integral view, nine clusters under the control of the council. I am sure you brought experience from the automotive one, is there any special one you think look this is the cluster, this sector is upcoming, it is ramping up, the aerospace, I do not know, that you believe is a gold mine.
IT, information technology, has been greatly developed. The aerospace sector has a great potential ahead.
There are many stakeholders inside the housing sector.
Let me tell you what we have been working on in the last months as Council of Clusters. First of all, we are developing the strategic planning. Having strategic planning as if you were a company who has done very well in the automotive cluster, and we want the other clusters to replicate it. Where we are going, the goals, the mission of the cluster, what we want to do in the region. We are trying to develop a strategic planning to align all clusters towards that direction. We will use an important outside consulting agency to strengthen it. We have even thought about exporting. During the first visit of the President of the Republic to Nuevo Leon, with the presence of Alfonso Guajardo, I had the chance of giving a message. And we discussed the clusterization model as offered Nuevo Leon as a clusterization example in the country, in front of Alfonso, the Secretary of Education and the President of the Republic.
And you have had unanimous support.
Support has been very important. Taking clusterization to a national level is more complicated because these are clusters, you have to do it by state and group them. You cannot do a cluster at a national level.
Depending on the optic you look at it, sometimes the position of Nuevo Leon is unfair as regards what it contributes and what it receives. We realize it is a unionist state that wants to be in agreement. Clusterization is a perfect example of joining voices and delimitating and having more competitive economy and business sectors. I do not know if you want to add anything about clusters.
Yes, I want to tell you the points we are working on right now and our goals. Strategic planning. This council, as well as the others, will become an NGO to receive resources from clusters and the state. We will work with the philosophy of the cluster. They will have a president and head, someone working full time on these issues. That is how clusters work, they have a president. But they all have a well-paid general manager working full time and making sure all these topics are carried out. Another important thing is that we are working to obtain funds from SMEs to work on four items in strategic sectors. We want to understand the value chains of these nine strategic sectors. It will result in lists, data sheets of all the companies participating in the sector, because not all the companies in the cluster participate in the sector. Although we work with a “cooperate to compete” philosophy there are companies that do not there to join us.
They consider it tricky.
They say what is actually, and we have said it. We have had companies competing directly with clients, and we have said if you do not want to share your best practices, or visit plants, because we visits plants, that is all right. I mean, it is all right. It does not mean you cannot share things at the end of the day, I mean, best HR practices, energy saving, we are all interested in sharing that.
You are not directly damaging or favoring your competitor.
It is not a forum to discuss competition. We want to map all companies here. Developing suppliers, in the case of an automotive company for example, is very important and it may bring more development than attracting an assembly plant. Mexican exports have increased significantly but we have not developed a local supplier chain to allow that internal growth.
That is very important, it is nuclear.
It is a key topic. So we want do map the value chain and understand suppliers development issues to be able to substitute imports. The development of suppliers is essential.
There was always that complaint about why assembly plants went to other states, that the state was not giving enough facilities. There is suddenly a development niche with the growth of suppliers. You have that option instead of encouraging an assembly plant at any cost.
An assembly plant, I mean, eventually comes the time when you cannot be waiting as a company for the government to collaborate or give everything an assembly plant needs, given land away or facilities, we cannot depend on that. But we can develop suppliers to aid us as suppliers in the automotive industry, to make us more competitive and supply the whole Republic.
Now you will work in this council in a more institutional posture, that general manager ready for whatever may come?
We are about to appoint, we are having a council meeting, there are four council meetings a year. In the next meeting we want to appoint a full time manager, and I will keep the functions of president of the council. I would be aware of everything, support, but not full-time. I would have more time to supervise those works that seem more interesting. The manager would be in charge of that and I would be the president of the council.