San Diego BizTech Roundup: Qualcomm, Helix Wind, and ‘Skqueak’

Here’s a potpourri of San Diego tech news, large and small, fresh from the local fields of innovation.

—San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM), the world’s biggest manufacturer of wireless chipsets, said it has renewed its global QPrize venture investment competition for the third time. The $1 million pool is almost double the total pool Qualcomm offered when it created the QPrize in 2009 to accelerate wireless technologies in key business sectors. Qualcomm plans to hold regional competitions in China, India, Israel, Korea, North America, Brazil, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe, and award $100,000 in convertible note financing to a finalist in each region. The company plans to award another $150,000 in financing to a grand prize-winner chosen from the eight finalists.

—Newbury Park-based Sauer Energy, a wind power technology developer, said it has acquired 100 percent of the assets of San Diego-based Helix Wind, a San Diego maker of small vertical axis wind turbine systems that ceased business operations at the end of 2010. Helix, which was trying to commercialize its iconic design for helical-shaped turbines, had an accumulated deficit of nearly $42 million. In a statement, Sauer Energy CEO Dieter Sauer says, “We purchased only the assets, therefore there are no liabilities, no obligations or debt whatsoever to Sauer Energy.”

—San Diego-based Pelfunc, founded by Sanjay Nichani and Ray Fix, launched their mobile app “Skqueak” for the iPhone in Apple’s iTunes App Store. Skqueak lets users record audio while simultaneously sketching or animating a design over a photo, map, or other image. The result is a kind of multimedia postcard that can be shared through social media and embedded in blogs.

—Qualcomm’s top European executive, Andrew Gilbert, met with reporters to talk about the wireless giant’s technology licensing strategy for wireless charging systems that can be used to charge electric vehicles (EVs) as well as smartphones and other devices. Gilbert also showed off an all-electric Le Mans prototype racer, and said Qualcomm remains on schedule with its plans to install its wireless charging technology for as many as 50 EV taxis in London.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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