Qualcomm's mentorship programmes help deeptech startups, women entrepreneurs make an impact
Under the Qualcomm Design in India Challenge (QDIC), Qualcomm has incubated 101 startups focused on deeptech and IoT products across sectors including agritech, drones, robotics, wearables, MedTech, and smart cities.
Impacting day-to-day lives of your customers or clients is absolutely essential, especially when building a deeptech or hardware company, said Dr Hemang Shah, Director of Engineering, Qualcomm Technology Licencing, at the 14th edition of YourStory’s flagship startup summit, TechSparks 2023, in Bengaluru.
“Qualcomm is a systems company, we don't create solutions only for ourselves but for our consumers, early adopters, and other members of the technology value chain, and Qualcomm Design in India Challenge (QDIC) is a product of our systems first thinking,” he said in his keynote address during the event.
He added that under the QDIC programme, Qualcomm has incubated 101 startups focused on deeptech and iOT products across sectors including agritech, drones, robotics, wearables, MedTech, and smart cities. The cohort startups range from satellite tracking company Dhruva Space to extended reality startup AjnaLens and have raised capital of over $250 million.
The incubation programme has received over 1,600 startup applications since launch, and after rigorous selection, the technology giant provides them with rapid prototyping opportunities to manufacture demos followed by mentorship on business scaling and intellectual property rights(IPR). The incubation program runs as a competition and three winners are selected at the end of each cohort via a jury pitching session and the resulting winner and two runner-ups receive Rs 50 lakh, Rs 30 lakh, and Rs 20 lakh, respectively.
Shah, who’s also co-Chairman of the national IPR committee of ASSOCHAM, added that the mentees under Qualcomm’s cohort are aware that they need to think about intellectual property (IP) from the start, even when they are focused on solving problems in the Indian market. He emphasised that the cohort startups understand that having a strong patent portfolio is essential for global expansion and around 305 patents have been filed under Qualcomm’s Design In India program.
Further, he added that under its program, Qualcomm provides state-of-the-art lab equipment and engineering expertise for the development and testing of new products to its cohort startups at the Qualcomm Innovation Lab which is based in Bengaluru.
“Before 5G was launched in India, our cohort startups utilised our state-of-the-art 5g Mobile Edge Computer private network to fine-tune their products and they were ready for launch in the global market,” he said emphasising that the innovation lab saves testing costs and time for startups part of the QDIC cohort.
“In the incubation programs, selected applicants tend to be at the seed plus level, but there are a fair amount of deeptech startups at the ideation stage or pre-seed level. For them, we have curated the Qualcomm Women Entrepreneurship India Network(QWEIN) and Qualcomm Semiconductor Mentorship Program(QSMP),” Shah said, detailing the additional mentorship programmes launched by Qualcomm India.
The QWEIN programme is tailored for deeptech startups led by women founders who are at the idea stage. Its primary objective is to assist these innovators in establishing scalable businesses. Within the programme, participating startups benefit from individualised mentoring provided by experienced leaders from Qualcomm.
Additionally, they gain access to masterclasses covering various business facets, including product strategy, intellectual property strategy, marketing, and leadership. The network, which currently has 33 startups, facilitates valuable connections between each other apart from potential system integrators, customers, and venture capitalists.
Along similar lines, Qualcomm has partnered with the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) for the QSMP programme, which provides similar mentorship to semiconductor startups through their design phase to their actual manufacturing in India.
“All of our programmes are tied to things that Qualcomm does well that allows us to mentor them and guide them to our strengths. And these programmes are equity-free, which gives both the startups and us a good degree of freedom because let's say there's another corporate accelerator that wants some introductions, and we are very happy to introduce them,” said Shah about the structure of the incubator programme.
Edited by Megha Reddy