Mexico and Cleantech Innovation
by: Veronica French
April 2, 2012
Conventionally known for its tequila and tacos, Mexico is making a breakthrough in the clean technology sector.
Few would associate Mexico with innovation and sustainable technology, but one competition is attempting to change this: the Cleantech Challenge Mexico 2012. Competing for up to US$30 million in venture capital investment, 128 cleantech projects submit their proposals and undergo a series of elimination rounds until 16 projects are left standing, ready to meet with investors. The final winner receives $25,000 in cash.
The Cleantech Challenge Mexico (CTCM) initially arose from a series of conversations with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, Kenya. There, founder and CEO of GreenMomentum, organizers of the CTCM, proposed the idea of starting a cleantech competition that would launch Mexicoâ€™s cleantech industry.
â€œWe called the Director of the UNEP and made a very concrete proposal to promote The Green New Deal in Latin America. After several conversations in Cozumel, Mexico, the Cleantech Challenge Mexico took a new form and since 2010 we have been making progress towards changing the way people see, use and develop clean technology in Mexico,â€ says Dr. Luis Aguirre-Torres.
Now in its third edition, the CTCM has gained support from international development agencies including USAID, UNIDO and various Mexican government agencies. â€œDuring the past three years we have been working with a large number of organizations that decided to support, technically and financially, the Cleantech Challenge Mexico. Among those are the World Bank, UNIDO and USAID, which has been the biggest supporter and sponsor of this initiative.â€
The projects that enter the CTCM have ranged from cloud computing to vertical gardens. Last yearâ€™s winner was Carbon Diversion Latin America, a company based in Guadalajara that uses waste material from tequila production factories and converts it into biomass, a replacing coal. Now, Carbon Diversionâ€™s biomass is used in industrial ovens across the country.
Another project that has entered the competition is Ecopipo, reusable cloth diapers with disposable inserts made from 100 percent natural fibers from bamboo and rice paper. Now, Ecopipo can be found in Italy, Spain, Colombia, Argentina and Peru, amongst other countries.
â€œEcopipo is an example of what we want to achieve with the Cleantech Challenge Mexico. A small family business turned into an SME, creating jobs in the process and setting the example of what needs to be done to succeed in Mexico as a young entrepreneur.â€