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SAN JOSE: US-based chip maker Qualcomm said it would invest up to $150 million (Rs 9.8 billion) in Indian startups via a venture fund after Prime Minister Narendra Modi met top tech honchos in the Silicon Valley during his US visit.

The San Diego based chip-maker made the announcement after its executive chairman Paul Jacobs met the Indian prime minister at the Digital Economy event in San Jose and said the venture fund was in support of the government's Digital India and Make-in-India initiatives.

"We share Modi's vision to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. India is at the cusp of a technology revolution and mobile technologies will lay the foundation for Digital India, " said Paul Jacobs.

"We are committed to providing local innovative start-ups with the support needed to help India's IOE ecosystem grow, increasing consumer choice and availability, " he added.

The new venture fund, which will be advised by Qualcomm Ventures - an investment arm of the group - is expected to fuel innovation and foster promising Indian startups which are contributing to the Mobile and Internet of Everything ecosystem. It will also aim to provide startups with financial, marketing, technology and business support to help propel them forward in the competitive Indian market.

"Since Qualcomm's first India investment in 2007 and with full-fledged presence starting in early 2008, we continue to invest broadly to strengthen India's overall economy, " said Nagraj Kashyap, senior vice president of Qualcomm.

"We are committed to providing these companies with the support needed to help propel them forward in the competitive Indian region. We're excited about the new prospects in India and look forward to growing our portfolio, " he added.

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Qualcomm, which claims to invest in firms boosting the local ecosystem, has a portfolio of 20 Indian companies. Its direct investments includes companies like Yourstory, a media tech platform for entrepreneurs, Portea Medical, an in-home healthcare provider, and MapMyIndia, a provider of digital map, navigation, and tracking products and services.

The chip-maker has been heavily investing in making wireless and mobile communication cheaper in India by working with smartphone vendors, it said.

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The company announced a Design-in-India competition and initiative which it hopes will encourage the creation of a local product design ecosystem, help make India a hub for design capabilities that drive the manufacturing value chain for 3G/4G smartphones, tablets and Internet of Everything (IoE) and leverage India's engineering talent to scale innovation for both local consumption, and the rest of the world.
"An innovation lab will be set up in Bengaluru to provide technical and engineering support to Indian companies, and we will support multiple Indian mobile device design companies, " the company said.

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