Home / Companies / Start-ups /  Qualcomm AI fund to back Indian healthcare, mobility-tech startups

Bengaluru: Qualcomm Ventures, the investment arm of American chipmaker Qualcomm Inc, aims to back Indian startups in the healthcare, mobility-tech, and financial services space among others under its recently-launched artificial intelligence or AI fund, the firm’s senior executives said.

Qualcomm Ventures said in November it has set up a $100 million AI fund to invest in startups working on AI. Since then the company has been talking to founders operating across various sectors.

“We have been investing in India for the past 10 years. To start off, early days was mostly around other ecosystems but over time we have expanded into IoT (internet of things). We are very bullish on the AI space in India," said Quinn Li, senior vice-president and global head of Qualcomm Ventures, who oversees a $1 billion venture portfolio of more than 150 companies across seven regions, including China, Israel and the US.

“We have met a lot of companies in the AI space on the healthcare, financial services, and surveillance side. I think there are great opportunities, both globally as well as here in India," said Li, who also serves on the boards of companies such as broadband equipment provider Airspan, internet provider OneWeb and mobile marketing platform Verve.

Qualcomm Ventures has backed startups such as healthcare service provider Portea Medical, agri-tech startup Ninjacart, and content platform YourStory.

The firm did not divulge the names of the startups it is in talks with for its AI Fund. It has already made its first investment from the fund into recognition startup AnyVision, which specializes in human and object recognition technology, Reuters reported on 29 November.

The firm is looking at companies that have both AI on cloud and edge. In edge computing, data is processed and analysed at the edge or end-devices, close to the data source. Thus, the amount of data transmitted to the central hub is minimised.

AI is a major requirement for two-wheeler mobility start-ups in particular, according to Varsha Tagare, managing director of Qualcomm Ventures India. “You look at it as the next reincarnation of the taxi space. In a taxi you have a human being who can take care of the vehicle but in a two-wheeler the machine needs to have the intelligence. In effect, the vehicle has to become a robot," she said.

The bike rental space has spawned several early-stage ventures over the past two years. Mint reported on 2 November that at least half a dozen new mobility startups are in advanced talks to raise large amounts of capital from investors. In December, cab-hailing service Ola agreed to invest an additional $100 million in scooter-sharing startup Vogo as part of a new strategic alliance.

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