Intel is leading a large group of venture capital firms and IT vendors in creating an investment vehicle to pump $3.5 billion into U.S.-based technology companies over the next two years.
At a speech Feb. 23 at the Brookings Institution, in Washington, Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced the Invest in America Alliance, in which some two dozen venture capital firms will participate, as will 17 technology vendors.
The economic goals of the effort are twofold, according to Intel: to help companies in growth areas of the industry and to help recent college graduates find work in what promises to continue to be a difficult job market.
Succeeding in both of these areas would help boost the United States' competitiveness around the world.
"Strong, enduring economies grow out of a culture of investment and a commitment to innovation," Otellini said in a statement. "We simply must have a clear, consistent strategy to promote innovation, investment and startup companies. There are things business can do, and ought to do, independent of what government achieves. It would be a long-term mistake to let our future scientists and engineers sit idle after graduation."
The project will follow two paths. The first is that Intel Capital-the chip maker's investment arm-and two dozen venture capital firms will invest $3.5 billion over two years in U.S. technology companies. This includes a $200 million investment by Intel Capital in America Technology Fund, which will target companies in such growth areas as clean technology, IT and biotechnology.
Intel officials said the fund would help create jobs not only in current market segments but also in growing areas, including molecular diagnostics, bioinformatics, electric vehicle ecosystems and wireless infrastructure.
The second path involves a pledge by Intel and other technology companies to increase their hiring of recent college grads, with some companies doubling the number they hire. Companies that have signed on are Accenture, Adobe Systems, Autodesk, Broadcom, CDW, Cisco Systems, Dell, eBay, EMC, GE, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Liberty Mutual Group, Marvell Semiconductor, Microsoft and Yahoo.
Intel estimated that this increase will mean about 10,500 college graduates will be hired in 2010 for such jobs as engineering, computer science financial analysis, marketing, management consulting and sales.
During his speech, Otellini said bringing recent college graduates into the workforce is imperative.
"This is an indispensable resource for the United States, and in the current climate, there hasn't been enough hiring momentum for them," he said.
In his talk, Otellini also touted the investments Intel has made in recent years, including the $7 billion it is spending to upgrade manufacturing facilities in New Mexico, Oregon and elsewhere to build Intel's 32-nanometer chips. In addition, Intel has spent almost $1 billion over the past 10 years on education worldwide, particularly involving math and the sciences.
Otellini said the United States must invest more in education and in making the country a more attractive place for companies if it is to keep up with increasingly robust competitors, including China, India, Finland, South Korea and Taiwan.
However, he said he remains optimistic.
"The future is going to be more demanding, more competitive and, frankly, more disruptive to American business," Otellini said in his speech. "But those conditions, as anyone who has worked in Silicon Valley knows, can be exactly the right environment for new thinking and breakthrough innovations."