For many technology entrepreneurs and startups, CES is where dreams are born. It's the place where their concepts and products are showcased to the masses for the first time ever, all with the hope of making a dent in one of the most thriving industries at the moment. Over the past 12 years, that's been the case for Manuel Gutiérrez-Novelo, a 47-year-old Mexican entrepreneur and inventor who has been attending the show since the 2000s. Gutierrez has launched a number of products throughout the years at CES, including what he calls the world's "first" virtual reality viewer connected to a computer, in 2006.
But CES 2018 was slightly different for Gutiérrez-Novelo. This year, he took on the task of bringing 20 of Mexico's best startups to the show, as part of a project created in cooperation with the country's government, dubbed Mexico 4.0. It all began at last year's CES, where he came across a Mexican official at the event who was taken aback by the fact that Gutiérrez-Novelo's company, Angel Inventum, was the only one from Mexico with a presence at the show. That led officials to ask him how they could help more entrepreneurs from Mexico showcase their work at CES.
The answer to that question was simple: They needed resources like money and, most important, a way to find the best talent in a country with almost 128 million people. Gutiérrez-Novelo said he worked with three government agencies, including INADEM (National Institute of Entrepreneurs of Mexico), which provides financial support to entrepreneurs and small to medium-size businesses in the country. After months of conversations, what transpired was Mexico 4.0, a program designed to help inventors create companies, produce, market and export their technologies, and attract funding for them both in Mexico and internationally.
Gutiérrez-Novelo said there were about 2,300 applications from startups and other "well-established" firms all across Mexico, but only 20 were selected to make the trip to Las Vegas for CES 2018. Among them are companies like Happinss, a virtual reality platform that offers experiences focused on reducing stress and anxiety in the workplace. There're also a handful that are working on 3D printing technologies like a modular device that can print different materials with ease thanks to interchangeable 3D printer heads.
3D printing is a key category for startups like MakerMex, particularly because it allows them to work with companies like Nissan, which have manufacturing plants in Mexico. According to a report by manufacturing firm The Offshore Group, automakers from all over the world have invested more than $13 billion to build their products in Mexico. That's a huge investment in the country's economy, one that MakerMex and other eager 3D printing startups can tap into with their machines.