Guadalajara Embraces Innovation


Expo Guadalajara is the city’s biggest convention venue. (Courtesy OFVC GDL)

Author: Vicky Koffa

When planning a conference in Mexico, the nation’s capital rises as an obvious choice as it connects the north and south, geographically and culturally. But some take a different route, opting for Guadalajara — the country’s second-largest city and capital of Jalisco State, in western Mexico.

Industrial Diversity

Guadalajara represents the largest economy of the western part of the country thanks to its year-round mild weather, its natural setting — it’s surrounded by mountains and forests at about 1,500 metres in elevation — and its strategic location. Fifty-one industrial parks in the State of Jalisco alone ensure progress and stability for the economy. Traditional industries like textiles, footwear, petrochemistry, paper, tequila, furniture, sugar, food, fur, forestry, and mining blend with electronics and apparel to form a leading business district with a productive economy.

Guadalajara is the main producer of software, electronics, and digital components in Mexico. Telecom and computer equipment from the city account for about a quarter of Mexico’s electronics exports. International companies such as General Electric, IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Siemens, Flextronics, Solectron, SCI Systems, and Oracle have manufacturing installations, research centres, and satellite offices in the wider metro area. These companies are staffed with young talent constantly flowing into the city.

Change Through Education

Technology institutes, educational centres, and 12 technical and engineering universities with national and worldwide prestige are spread across the city. The city is home to the Universidad de Guadalajara, Universidad Panamericana, the Western Institute of Technology and Higher Education, and the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, among others.

Through education, Guadalajara is undergoing social, environmental, and economic transformation. Ecosystems like the Creative Digital City bear testimony to that. An old urban space in the centre of the city is being restored to bring together creative industries such as studios involved in the production of film, television, videogames, computer-generated imagery, interactive media, and mobile apps, with the goal to strengthen Mexico’s position in the creative industry sector. Innovation, culture, talent, and new technology join forces in the 20-year project aimed at improving life in the local community and improving the environment.


The new performing arts center, called Conjunto Santander de Artes Escénicas, is part of the University Cultural Center in Guadalajara. (Courtesy OFVC GDL)

Focused Convention Bureau

The Guadalajara Visitors and Conventions Bureau (OFVC), receiving strong government support, is a contributor to the city’s evolution. The strategy behind the work of the bureau, in collaboration with the relevant national associations, is targeted to conferences that will boost that evolution. Gustavo Staufert, general director of OFVC, says: Guadalajara is the Latin America cornerstone for IT, culture, agro-industries, and trade. Therefore, we are in pursuit of these type of associations. Furthermore, Jalisco as a state is building new public policies that may enhance the well-being of citizens and humanity, thus we are also seeking … social and environmental conferences and conventions.”

As an added draw, he noted, in Guadalajara, visitors “can go in one hour from a beautiful Mexican hacienda, to the tequila land, and then visit the state-of-the-art building of Intel, and end your day at the opera house of Placido Domingo at the performing arts complex.”

Venues for Events

Some of the most influential conferences held in the city, like the 2016 World Ophthalmology Congress or the 48th Union World Conference on Lung health in 2017, took place in the city’s biggest venue, Expo Guadalajara. The city is full of other cultural venues able to hold leading congresses including the Palacio de la Cultura y los Congresos (PALCCO) and the newly built performing arts centre (CAE). And the Cabañas Cultural Institute, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and Museo de las Artes Universidad de Guadalajara (MUSA) connect Mexico’s history and future.


The Palacio de la Cultura y los Congresos in Guadalajara hosts congresses as well as arts events. (Courtesy OFVC GDL)


Become a Member

Get premium access to provocative executive-level education, face-to-face networking and business intelligence.