Bustling with innovation and opportunity, Mexico is a hotbed of new technology that rivals Silicon Valley. Just look at all the cities within its borders, like Guadalajara and Monterrey, where startups are planting roots thanks to their elite universities and competitive edge over other tech hubs worldwide. Tijuana, Mexico City, and Querétaro – Mexican destinations poised to upend status quo conventions everywhere!
We sat down with a panel of many software developers who are local experts to get the low-down on how innovative Mexican technology hubs have become. From cutting-edge startups to established industry players, it looks like things are about to get bigger (and brighter) for Southern neighbor’s tech sector.
Get ready to explore a new frontier in Latin American innovation!
- Number of tech talents: 39K (based on LinkedIn, Technology & Information industry)
- Number of tech universities: 3
- Local startups: Digitt, YoTePresto, Billpocket, Kueski, 100 Ladrillos, Volabit, Plerk, Wiggot, and RetryPay.
- Accelerators & Incubators: ITESO, UNIVA, StartupGDL, Panamericana, Mexican Innovation University, Magma Partners, Redwood Ventures, FWV Ventures, Guadalajara Angel Investor Network, Agave Lab.
Guadalajara is known for tequila, mariachi music, and pozole – and now it’s hosting a new development center in its vibrant tech community. With many big-name companies such as IBM, HP, Oracle, Cisco, Wizeline, and Intel finding their home in the city, it’s become the Silicon Valley of Mexico – one hour behind New York on the east coast and two ahead of San Francisco with over 300 flights go from the US to Mexico every day.
After Guadalajara won the bid for Digital Creative City, Mexico witnessed an impressive surge in college graduates specializing in science, technology, engineering, and math, increasing by almost 6% annually. This and other government initiatives, such as Reto Zapopan, resulted in direct investments in the innovation sector. As for now, 123 companies in Guadalajara cover tech-related services and industries, according to Tech Behemoths. It has primarily become a hub for technological development – 62% of the technology talent resides there.
As the economic engine of Mexico, Guadalajara’s impact can be felt far beyond its expansive boundaries. Boasting a thriving industrial center in nearby Bajio that drives growth nationwide, this vibrant region is an undeniable force for progress and prosperity.
The city of contrasts
You can only see the light of the stars at night because of the darkness of space. The distinct style of Guadalajara is best highlighted by combining traditional and modern settings. The combination of ancient monuments, innovative cultural hubs, and modern restaurants makes it challenging to define Guadalajara’s style – in a good way! Whether it’s Paco Ruano (Mexico’s award-winning Chef) leading yet another birria tour or Tesla drivers sharing the road with old-school automobiles, there’s no denying that this city has its very own flair.
After speaking to hundreds of innovative minds from this region, we’ve found that Mexican buzzing hubs like Guadalajara are creating severe waves in technology circles. Miguel, a senior RoR developer, told us it’s the perfect city for those looking for a great place to live with many cultures and job opportunities. “Forget urban hustle-and-bustle – this destination has low traffic congestion yet still maintains its vibrant traditional vibes.”
Tech aficionados are flocking to Guadalajara. Though the location may be far from home for some, many entrepreneurs and ambitious workers heed the call of this Mexican city and take on new opportunities with tenacity. Omar, a 20-years long RoR developer, thinks it is a great place to live and work. He lives like 8 hours from there and has been there a couple of times himself, and also, he has heard great things about it from other developers. For him, Guadalajara is even greater for tech people than Mexico City and Monterrey.
- The number of tech talents: 21K
- The number of universities: 11
- Local startups: Kredi, Kinedu, Skydropx, Nowports, ePesos, DIVERZA, Moneypool, GMB START, and 500 Startups.
Monterrey is a city in northern Mexico and the capital of the state of Nuevo León. It’s often called Mexico’s most Americanized city because of its advanced tech industry and highly educated population. Significant players like IBM, HP, Intel, Microsoft, and Oracle have set up shops in this vibrant city. Boasting an ever-expanding network of research centers and universities promoting innovative technologies that put it firmly at the forefront of digital evolution.
Monterrey has cemented itself as Mexico’s industrial powerhouse. Corporate juggernauts like Coca-Cola, FEMSA, and Cemex have chosen this prominent city for their operational bases. Its proximity to Texas through US borders makes it particularly attractive to international entrepreneurs.
Monterrey is fast becoming the epicenter of a dynamic startup scene. Think of Nowports’ remarkable journey from an ambitious digital freight forwarding company to a billion-dollar business was recently solidified by their record $150M Series C round in May 2022 – cementing them as one of many new tech unicorns in town.
- The number of tech talents: 237K
- The number of universities: 18
- Local startups: Clip, Kavak, Bitso, Kushki, Stori, Rappi, Cornershop.
Mexico City is the largest city in Mexico and the country’s capital. It is home to many tech companies, such as Google and Microsoft, and is a software development, engineering, and robotics center. Boasting some of the nation’s most prestigious institutions and venture capital industry, it continues to take steps towards digital advancement – the city has numerous universities and colleges, making it an attractive destination for tech talent.
Although Mexico City is a promising destination for tech initiatives, the issue of taxation can be a major roadblock. Tax rates here are not necessarily friendly to startups, with a corporate income tax rate hovering around 28%, plus local and value-added taxes, giving entrepreneurs plenty of things to crunch other than numbers. Miguel, a Ruby on Rails engineer with 8+ years of experience, shared on the location: “Mexico City is a hub for enterprising startups, though entrepreneurs should be aware of the lofty taxes they may face. However, this vibrant city offers plenty of opportunity for those willing to take the risk.”
Riviera Cultural Center of Ensenada, Baja
- The number of tech talents: 15K
- The number of universities: 5
- Local startups: Zipdev, COHUMA.
- Innovation & Development hubs: COCITBC, BIT Center, Consejo de Dessarrollo de Tijuana, MIND Hub, BlueBox, Endeavor, CEID (Bay Area Economy).
Some tech spots come from the proximity to the US cities. With only a single stride between them, the US and the Baja California state presented by such cities as Tijuana and Ensenada are as close as ever. Overall, Baja California presents a mixed picture regarding science and innovation.
The emerging tech center Tijuana is just 1.7 miles away from the US border, spitting distance from major cities like San Diego, at a measly 20-minute drive away. This border town boasts a combined gross domestic product comparable to Ireland ($230 billion). One of the largest technology manufacturers, Busta Corp, has its headquarters in Tijuana, showing the world just how much potential this place has. 3DRobotics even went so far as to choose Tijuana over Berkeley.
Moreover, one focus of the region is to increase the production and use of renewable energy (wind and solar), where capacity is underdeveloped. Still, demand is growing on both sides of the US border. Mexico’s Secretaría de Energía (Ministry of Energy) predicts Baja California will need an additional 67,000 MW of electrical power by 2032.
Santiago de Querétaro
- The number of tech talents: 16K
- The number of universities: 2
- Local startups: Médica Santa Carmen, Academio, Dapp, mienvio, Contaayuda, Globalmark.
Querétaro is quickly becoming the nation’s go-to spot for aerospace activities. It’s all thanks to the “NAFTA highway,” which conveniently services a central location providing easy access for companies in this industry. Just a few hours’ drive north of Mexico City, the region has seen a massive spike in economic activity with its newfound prominence as an aerospace hub.
With a booming energy and cosmopolitan lifestyle accented by its calm atmosphere and stunning views, Querétaro encourages those looking for an alternative to Mexico City. Miguel adds, “Queretaro could prove an ideal locale where techies have room to grow. Our country has long been a hub of centralization, but it’s time to spotlight other cities offering equal IT opportunities. The country’s hidden gems are waiting to show off their expertise – and cities like Queretaro and Colima are great places for those who seek wallet-friendly rates.”
Mexico is rapidly gaining ground on the tech map, becoming an increasingly attractive option for tech talent. With promising technology centers in cities all around the country, software engineers are finding plenty of opportunities to keep themselves busy. Pour in a dash of innovation and a pinch of governmental support, and you’ve got a recipe for success. And there’s even a bonus: an environment that fully embraces culture and authenticity, which is rare among tech hubs.
Learn more about technology hubs in Latin America from our article on big tech hubs in Brazil.