TIJUANA.- Tijuana Innovadora, an event that takes place every other year with the goal of putting Tijuana on the map as an innovation hub not only in Mexico but on a global scale is kicking-off today. The ten-day long event highlights all things innovation, from arts and technology, to fashion and gastronomy.
The line-up of conferences and presenters is impressive. There are more than 200 key-note speakers scheduled, including artists, company executives, scientists, former presidential candidates, and politicians including San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giulani, and Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazaran. Some of the events are free, and others can be purchased for specific conferences or for blocks of conferences. The event is taking place at the Tijuana Cultural Center (CECUT), which is most easily recognized by its large IMAX dome, just a five minute drive across the border.
One of the most unique aspects of this years Tijuana Innovadora is its partnership with UBER, a service that launched a little over two months ago and is already on the path to drastically transforming the citys public transportation problem, and transportation in general. If you are interested in attending any of the events at Tijuana Innovadora, you can easily cross the border on foot and hitch a ride with UBER. UBER, the app-driven ridesharing service, just launched their more economical version called uberX just last week and (as if that werent enough), they are even offering free rides.
UBER is one of several sponsors of the event, including Coca-Cola, Sears, Qualcomm, Canada Air, Southwestern Community College, UCSD, Baker & McKenzie, and many other companies and government agencies on both sides of the border. Dozens of companies will also set up exposition booths which visitors can check out for free, and where they can reach out to companies and learn more about their capabilities. This is a great way for visitors to possibly set up strategic partnerships or foster new business relationships.
There will also be many interesting workshops to check out, discussing topics such as Hydroponics, Creative Communication, Art Therapy, Mixed Martial Arts, Laughter Therapy, Social Media Marketing, and even how Lucha Libre can be Emotional Therapy.
One sector that is of especial interest, and which has great potential in Tijuana, is the startup community. In Tijuana, startups with little financial backing can easily put together a team at a significant economic advantage when compared to what that would cost in the United States. Many co-working spaces have been developed specifically to harness and foster the creative startup community, including HubStn and MIND Hub, both of which will be participating in the event.
According to Miguel Marshall, Co-Founder of HUB STN, they will be hosting the sixth edition of Tijuana Startup Weekend, October 24th through October 26th. Startup Weekend is a 52 hour event, where programmers, designers, marketers, and business specialists are invited to pitch and develop a startup idea. After a weekend of developing the ideas, the teams present their pitch to a panel of judges that will decide the winners.
Marshall will be one of the judges on the panel, and will also speak at a conference on behalf of SV Latam, the first venture capital firm out of Silicon Valley to focus on Latin America, and specifically for technology industries. Tijuana is a city that can either be a platform or launch pad for companies that want to do business in Latin America.
Tijuana Innovadora also demonstrates that the city is betting its future on the service sector, more than manufacturing or maquiladoras. This is something that has also materialized in its growing gastronomic sector, and visitors of the Tijuana Innovadora would be amiss they didnt take the time to visit any one of the citys incredible culinary offerings (check out our The Real Baja Section for ideas).
The fact that an innovative service like UBER, for example, has decided to choose Tijuana as one of only three markets in Mexico (Guadalajara and Mexico City being the other two), and ahead of more progressive cities like Monterrey is a sign that large companies are confident in the potential that the city has. On Sunday, October 19th, UBERs Chief Operating Officer, Ryan Graves will talk about how the company, which was founded in 2009, was created and how it has managed to expand to 45 countries in just five years.
For more information about Tijuana Innovadora, and for a complete schedule of events, and to purchase tickets, visit here.