Qualcomm, the U.S. semiconductor giant, has announced a $150 million USD investment in a range of Indian startups, focussing on mobile.
As far as their Asia involvement, Qualcomm has favored involvement with Chinese startups in the past, including a $40 million USD investment in four startups at the end of last year. But India’s emerging industry is attracting more attention, offering up as a less complex geopolitical market.
It’s also still an early-stage market for mobile adoption, a critical time for app-based platform startups. “India is at the cusp of a technology revolution and mobile technologies will lay the foundation for Digital India,” said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chairman of Qualcomm.
The recipients of Qualcomm’s latest funding injection range across multiple stages, with some early-stage participants and some established startups. Companies include Yourstory, a media platform for entrepreneurs and MyMapIndia, a mobile-based mapping service. Portea Medical, an in-home healthcare app will also receive funding, at a time when healthcare apps in India are attracting the big dollars from local and foreign funds.
Qualcomm began investing in India in 2007, according to the company, bringing the asset of mobile specialization to their startups. India’s startup scene is hotting up as platforms spring up to take advantage of the fast-growing mobile population. The number of mobile users in the country is set to double to over 300 million by 2017 according to a report form KPMG and the Internet and Mobile Association of India.
While retail and services are still primarily brick and mortar, digital is catching up fast. Recently e-commerce player Flipkart is now valued at $15 billion USD following a series of high-profile investments, while ride-hailing app Ola is looking to seal a $500 million USD series, with current participants including Chinese giant Didi Kuaidi.
Qualcomm made the announcement as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is visiting the U.S., with an itinerary that included a Q&A with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Modi has been a strong advocate of digital development in India. Among his tech-friendly policies is the ‘Make in India’ program, which makes it easier for foreign tech companies to start up manufacturing closer to the growing number of Indian digital consumers.