Outcome #1 of Modi’s Silicon Valley visit: $150M fund for startups, design in India initiative


In his second visit to the US and first by an Indian PM to Silicon Valley in last three decades, Narendra Modi has innovation, technology, startups at the top of his agenda.

The visit is reaping significant dividends in the form of support for the government's Digital India and Make in India programmes. At the Digital India Dinner on the weekend, CEOs of tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, Adobe, Cisco and Qualcomm spoke in depth about India's role in the next generation of technological innovation.

One of the most significant announcements of the evening came from Qualcomm’s Executive Chairman Dr. Paul E. Jacobs. The company’s venture capital arm announced its support for the Government of India’s Digital India and Make in India agenda and committed to:

  1.  Establishing a $150M India Venture Fund: Qualcomm Ventures’ India-specific $150M (approximately INR 9.8 billion) venture investment fund is being formed to:Fuel innovation and foster promising Indian startups who are contributing to the mobile and Internet of Everything (IoE) ecosystem,
  2. Provide startups with financial, marketing, technology and business support to propel them forward in the competitive Indian market.
  3. Introducing a Design in India Initiative and competition designed to:Encourage the creation of a local product design ecosystem.
  4. Help make India a hub for design capabilities that drive the manufacturing value chain for 3G/4G smartphones, tablets and IoE.
  5. Leverage India’s engineering talent to scale innovation for both local and global consumption.
  6. Set up a Qualcomm Innovation Lab in Bangalore to provide technical and engineering support to Indian companies and support multiple Indian mobile device design companies. The proposed Design Challenge will identify innovative product and hardware companies who will then receive technical and engineering support at the Qualcomm Innovation Lab.

Also read: Everything you wanted to know about PM’s Digital India programme 

India’s mobile growth story so far:

  • Number of wireless broadband users in India (121 million) outnumbers wireline broadband users (15 million) by a huge margin.
  • Budget smartphones have boosted internet penetration and brought about a mobile revolution. The market believes smartphones sales in India will cross 250 million units in 2020, from just 82 million in 2014.
  • India already has more internet traffic on mobile devices, 65% of total internet traffic, as of today.

Qualcomm in India

Qualcomm directly invests in Indian mobile and internet start-up companies to keenly foster the local ecosystem. Portfolio companies include Portea Medical, an in-home healthcare provider, MapMyIndia, a provider of digital map, navigation, and tracking products and services, and YourStory. Portfolio companies benefit from Qualcomm’s insights on mobile technology and utilize Qualcomm’s relationships throughout the industry. Qualcomm Ventures’ India team also provides support through its comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the region.

Qualcomm has been investing in Indian startups in hardware, software platforms, e-commerce, healthcare, location-based services and retail technology since 2007. Its global portfolio includes over 20 Indian companies. The company also runs the QPrize™ competition, a global seed investment competition, and an early stage fund as a part of its efforts in encouraging early-stage entrepreneurs.

Watch this space for further updates on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley.

(Disclaimer: Qualcomm Ventures is an investor in YourStory Media)