Qualcomm Ventures’ QPrize Contest Pulls in VCs, Especially Overseas

It’s been a few weeks since Qualcomm Ventures kicked off the fourth edition of its international QPrize competition, an initiative that seems to be taking on a life of its own.

The contest began in 2009 as a kind of global hunt for innovation—a way to find the next generation of promising, early stage companies developing new mobile and Web technologies. It is now open to startups in seven regions—North America, Israel, Latin America, South Korea, India, Europe, and China. Each regional winner gets a $100,000 loan (which converts into an equity investment), and a chance to win another $150,000 in a final round of the Q Prize competition.

The contest has the unstated benefit of helping San Diego-based Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) augment its technology ecosystem around the world. Yet the competition also benefits from Qualcomm’s global reach, which includes R&D facilities in Israel, India, and elsewhere. As a result, the QPrize has been drawing other venture investors to join in the effort, especially in key overseas markets.

That means startups competing in regional QPrize competitions are not just getting funding from Qualcomm’s investment arm, according to Nagraj Kashyap, the senior vice president of Qualcomm Ventures.

“Over the last two years, we’ve gotten a lot of interest from Microsoft in India,” Kashyap said in a telephone interview, and three other venture funds in India—Accel Partners, Persistent, and One97—have joined in the regional QPrize contest in this year. In China, Kashyap said Qualcomm Ventures has been working more closely with Sequoia Capital.

“We are playing a more and more … Next Page »

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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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