Remarks by Deputy Administrator Donald Steinberg in Mexico City

Monday, December 17, 2012
USAID’s Innovation Fund for the Americas (IFA) Launches Mexico Opportunity


Members of the media, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished invitees, good morning.

It is a pleasure to be here in Mexico City. I want to thank Secretary of the Economy Guajardo  and Undersecretary Jacob Rocha for their hospitality this morning and for the leadership they already are demonstrating as they seek to expedite implementation of the government’s ambitious agenda. My special thanks also to Ambassador Wayne for his leadership in driving the special relationship between Mexico and the United States.

Mexico and the United States have a shared border, a shared history, and, increasingly, a shared road to prosperity based on partnership between our two peoples.  When they met in Washington in late November, President Obama and President Peña Nieto articulated a common vision that puts even closer economic integration and prosperity at the forefront of the U.S.-Mexico relationship.  My visit and the program we are launching today are a tangible reflection of this. 

President Peña Nieto has cleared articulated the priorities of his new Administration, including an emphasis on sustained, inclusive, and equitable economic growth as the key to a more  stable, democratic, and prosperous Mexico. My government shares that vision, and it is committed to helping the new government to achieve its goals for the country as part of a strong U.S.-Mexico relationship.

My agency, the U.S. Agency for International Development works around the world to help countries achieve sustainable development.  Last April, President Obama announced a powerful tool to support these efforts in the region:  the Innovation Fund for the Americas. This Fund provides money to innovators to pilot, test, and scale up the most creative, evidence-based and cost-effective proposals for addressing Latin America and the Caribbean’s toughest development challenges.   The Fund is managed by USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, a program that marries venture capital’s staged- study of impact to support the best development ideas from the private, non-profit, and public sectors.  Today, I am pleased to announce $1 million (13 million pesos) in additional funds targeted for Mexico under this Fund. 

We are excited to support Mexico’s intellectual curiosity, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. Through this opportunity, we will provide grants to Mexican companies, universities, and government agencies with cost-effective and breakthrough ideas for solving some of the world’s most pressing development challenges. USAID has been proud to support Mexican innovators over the years; and this new addition of funds will help us reach a wider cross-section in Mexico.

In every successful economy in the world, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship are generating growth and socio-economic opportunities that were unimaginable just a few decades ago. In recent years, the world has witnessed game-changing innovations in global development, including new vaccines that have dramatically reduced disease, mobile technology that facilitate the movement of cash in places where banking services are limited, toilets that need no water and generate electricity, better use of crowdsourcing to reduce infant mortality and prevent crime, and new seeds that resist drought and increase crop yields. These innovations have already dramatically improved global health, education, social equality, and economic prosperity.

Through this new opportunity, USAID wants to help Mexicans support Mexico and President Peña Nieto’s development agenda that aims to bolster innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly for small businesses. We are looking for novel, cost-effective solutions from Mexico that have the potential to benefit large numbers of people throughout the world.

In conclusion, I want to reiterate my government’s commitment to working closely with President Peña Nieto, his government, and Mexican civil society and business groups to support reform and closer ties between our two countries. It is in the spirit of a shared path to prosperity and the expression of our shared values that we are investing in Mexican innovation and entrepreneurship.  Thank you.

Mexico City, Mexico

Last updated: December 21, 2012

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