Qualcomm Invests $40 Million in Chinese Tech Companies

The investments in the five firms come months after Qualcomm unveiled a $150 million fund aimed at the important Chinese market.

tech business

Qualcomm is investing $40 million in Chinese tech vendors that develop products in the mobile, wireless and Internet of things arenas.

The money, drawn from a $150 million fund aimed at the Chinese market that was announced in July, will go to four companies and a Chinese capital venture fund that invests in semiconductor-related entities.

The Qualcomm investments are the latest by a U.S. chip maker in the increasingly important Chinese market. Rival Intel during the year has announced several investments in and partnerships with Chinese chip making companies.

The four Chinese tech vendors develop products that are in line with what Qualcomm is working on, according to Nagraj Kashyap, senior vice president of Qualcomm Ventures, the chip maker's investment arm.

"With a focus on semiconductors, mobile application enablers, smart home and healthcare, this group of startup companies closely complements existing products and services from Qualcomm Incorporated's subsidiaries," Kashyap said in a statement. "We look forward to working with these innovative companies to provide financial, marketing, technology and business support to help propel them forward in the competitive wireless ecosystem."

The four companies Qualcomm is investing in are 7Invensun, which develops eye-tracking technology that's used in such fields as health care and virtual reality; Chukong Technologies, which offers a mobile entertainment platform that is used by both developers and consumers; inPlug, which builds a smart home platform that leverages software-defined networking technologies and enables smart control of a home network; and Unisound, which develops voice recognition service middleware and platforms that are used in such systems as smart appliances, wearable devices and in-car navigation.

The China Walden Venture Investments fund aims its money at semiconductor or semiconductor-related companies in China, according to Qualcomm Ventures, which has more than 120 companies in its portfolio.

The investments come as the Chinese government continues to investigate Qualcomm for possible violations of its anti-monopoly laws. At the same time, Qualcomm officials have said some Chinese companies that license their technology are under-reporting sales.

The investment announcement also comes soon after reports began circulating that Qualcomm, the world's largest mobile chip maker, will cut as many as 600 jobs.

Intel also is looking to grow its presence in the large and growing Chinese market and expand its mobile chip capabilities. The company announced earlier this month that it is investing $1.6 billion to upgrade a 10-year-old chip plant in the country. Intel last year partnered with Chinese search engine Baidu to create software for China's mobile Internet market and to create a joint innovation lab where developers can leverage Intel-based devices for their work. Earlier this year, Intel created a $100 million fund and an innovation center in China to fuel the development of smart systems such as smartphones and wearable devices powered by its processors, and soon after said it was partnering with Rockchip to create Intel-based systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) for tablets.

In September, Intel said it was investing $1.5 billion in Chinese chip maker Tsinghua Unigroup, giving Intel a 20 percent stake in the state-owned venture that runs Chinese chip designers RDA Microelectronics and Spreadtrum Communications.