By Vicki L. Nisbett

POSTED:   06/18/2015 03:12:28 PM MDT

LAS CRUCES >> A pioneering partnership that began last year between Arrowhead Center, Mexico City’s local government and several universities there is bringing innovative commercialization methods to participants.

Arrowhead Center, New Mexico State University’s economic development engine, was invited to help implement the unique, three-phase program, which is called “Atrevete a Emprender,” or “Dare to Be an Entrepreneur.”

The partnership included the Social Development Fund FONDESO, part of Mexico City’s local government, and five universities: Universidad Autonoma de Mexico, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Tecnologico Nacional de México and Universidad Autonoma de la Ciudad de Mexico.

Arrowhead served as the host for the first phase of the program, incorporating a business model program for participating teams composed of students, recent graduates, researchers and faculty members. To participate in the program, teams needed two to four participants with at least one student currently enrolled in one of the participating institutions.

In the second phase, Arrowhead will help participants improve business performance and will use hands-on training for staff members from each of the five institutions.

In the final phase of the program, Arrowhead will assist in creating seed funding for entrepreneurs in Mexico City to incentivize the creation of high-impact startups.

Business concepts were accepted regardless of the industry or stage of development from an early-stage idea to an operating startup wanting to grow. The number of applications indicated great interest from the target population to participate in this type of program.

“Being a high-impact and scalable business idea or existing startup is what we are looking for,” said Arrowhead Program Manager Griselda Martinez.

A public kickoff event to launch Atrevete a Emprender was held in Mexico City in March. Attendees included Kevin Boberg, NMSU’s vice president for economic development; Miguel Angel Mancera, Mexico City’s mayor; Enrique Jacob Rocha, federal undersecretary of small business for Mexico; presidents and representatives from the five participating universities; representatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Mexico Economic Policy Program; and Arrowhead Center representatives.

“Atrevete a Emprender exemplifies mutually beneficial sustainable development,” Boberg said, “through innovation and entrepreneurship, founded in cultural respect and engagement.”

Arrowhead’s team will provide support remotely and on-site in Mexico City until its completion at the end of this year. The business model program is being delivered in Spanish, and all projects will be evaluated by Arrowhead Center’s staff, who will provide educational workshops and tools, guidance and coaching. All projects, whether or not they advance to the next stage in their participation of this program, will receive practical and constructive feedback throughout the process.

Martinez said finalists may have the chance to become a business incubator client at Arrowhead Center, providing them the opportunity to enter the U.S. and other international markets.

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Vicki L. Nisbett may be reached at 575-642-1334.