… AND ITS NEXT GENERATION OF STARTUPS
From top: Inside the co-working space at Juárez’s Technology Hub
incubator, which Ricardo Mora co-founded; a researcher at El Paso’s
innovation and S TEM center Fab Lab working alongside Aristotle, a robot
created at the lab; instructor Aldo Portillo overseeing a group of middle
schoolers who are making their own 3-D printer at Fab Lab, as part of a
community program that tutors local students on STEM topics.
here. Historically, cheap labor has been
the reason companies manufacture here.
Four years ago, I launched a startup
incubator in Juárez called Technology
Hub, and this spring we started an accelerator program there—with funding from
Microsoft, Bosch, and other companies—
to help startups that innovate on the
manufacturing supply chain. That accelerator is called the Bridge, and there are
six Mexican companies in it and six American. The workshops happen on both
sides of the border, at Technology Hub
and at an incubator in El Paso.
The annual dollar value of the manufacturing inputs in the state of Chihuahua is
$39 billion, but only 2 percent of that supply
chain comes from the region. The opportunity to change that is enormous, and there’s
a startup ecosystem beginning to focus
on that, with frms like Boost Human—an
early-stage company in El Paso that builds
augmented-reality systems for businesses.
Closing the border—I don’t think it’s even
possible. No matter what the rhetoric is
or how tall the walls are, you just can’t do
it. And if you did, you would be cutting an
artery that would drain its blood on both
sides of the border. A lot of trade happens
here. There are a lot of relationships.
I saw video footage earlier this year
that showed a line of trucks stretching for
more than 15 miles, waiting to get across the
border, because so many border agents have
been brought in to deal with asylum seekers.
Drivers were waiting 10 hours to get across.
These trucks carry auto parts and other
goods to American plants, and to consumers.
Shipments were getting delayed. It was bad.
I read an article that said Juárez could lose
100,000 employees as a result. And if Juárez
hurts, El Paso hurts too.
Thankfully that issue was resolved by
large companies pressuring Washington.
Now there’s the threat of tarifs. I wouldn’t
say we’re bracing for the next thing. But
Of the circle of people whom I spend time
with, probably 50 percent are like me: We
cross the border all the time. El Paso and
Juárez are just one community. There’s no
diference. They’re linked at the hip.