A year after Qualcomm Ventures launched a $100 million AI fund, the San Diego-based company is launching a new fund of double the size. Qualcomm launched a $200 million 5G Ecosystem Fund on Oct. 24, in an effort to help accelerate the adoption of 5G technology beyond smartphones.
5G, the newest wireless technology standard, is expected to improve network capacity, boost speeds, and reduce lag. Of course, those changes will apply to cellphones, but 5G also has interesting uses with gaming, manufacturing and transportation.
Core Parts of Strategy
“Both 5G and AI are very core parts of our strategy and we see key opportunities on both sides,” Quinn Li, senior vice president and head of Qualcomm Ventures, told the San Diego Business Journal. “The reason we’re announcing the 5G fund now is that the network is just being rolled out.”
Li said he plans to make investments from the new fund over the next four to five years. Qualcomm Ventures will still follow its traditional model of investing between $1 million and $10 million for startups in the fund.
In general, Li is looking to invest in companies that fall under one of three categories: companies that are creating new use cases for 5G, such as cloud gaming or augmented reality; companies that are developing key wireless technologies for 5G networks; and end-to-end solutions where 5G is used, such as connected factories.
Two examples of related companies that Qualcomm Ventures previously invested in include Affirmed Networks and Altiostar, both of which are developing core technologies for 5G.
“We’re uniquely positioned to be able to find these startups, provide capital to these startups, and get them to work with us to help grow the 5G ecosystem,” Li said.
In total, Qualcomm Ventures has made more than 350 investments since it started in 2000. Some of its notable investments include Zoom, Fitbit, Waze and Xiaomi.
Building out 5G use cases is important to Qualcomm’s core business, as the fabless semiconductor company looks to bring its newest chips into more and more devices.
“5G will transform industries and should be viewed as a business strategy for all,” Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf said in a news release. “The intent of this fund is to fuel innovative 5G businesses that will be poised to take advantage of the $13.2 (trillion) economic benefit that 5G will enable by 2035.”