Oct 24, 2019

5G Ecosystem Fund: Making the full potential of 5G a reality

Managing Director, Qualcomm Ventures Latin America


Today, Qualcomm announced the launch of the Qualcomm Ventures 5G Ecosystem Fund to invest up to $200 million across the globe, in companies developing innovative solutions across the entire 5G value chain. We’re excited about what this strategic initiative represents in terms of fostering innovation in the 5G ecosystem and accelerating the adoption of 5G beyond smartphones.

Much has been said about 5G — This is a big technology shift that is currently underway, bringing a once-in-a-decade upgrade to the wireless systems. This new era represents a leap ahead of current wireless technology, known as 4G, by offering mobile internet speeds that will let consumers download entire movies within seconds.

But 5G is not just about faster downloads or smartphone connections, it is much more than that. 5G will be the network infrastructure for the Internet of everything. It will redefine connectivity, computing, and the edge cloud for the next decade. We are on the verge of a new age of interconnectedness, when the daily lives of people across the planet will be more closely intertwined than ever before.

Think about a world in which not just people but all things are connected — autonomous vehicles will cruise safely communicating with smart highways, smart security cameras will have intelligence to identify unsafe behaviors and act upon that information in real time, augmented reality will be available to help consumers learn, shop or play wherever they are, remote robotic surgeries will be routine for low complexity cases — Everything from air conditioners to dog collars to fitness trackers will be connected, and their data will be used intelligently to make people’s life easier.

This vision requires a massive increase in the level of connectivity — 5G is the technological answer, making possible billions of connected devices and making their connections extremely fast, secure and almost instantaneous.

In order to accommodate a wide variety of use cases in 5G, the network itself will have to be re-architected. As such, the emergence of smart networks — fully software-defined, hyper-automated and virtualized — becomes foundational for the 5G long-term vision. Services will be able to be provisioned in just a few days, as opposed to months. In what is called network slicing, vastly different use cases, or logical networks, will share the same physical infrastructure.

The combination of 5G with pervasive Artificial Intelligence, embedded on smart devices (think about cameras, drones or robots) or in a distributed cloud architecture, will exponentialize the benefits of the technology and bring an unprecedented level of intelligence to the whole system. 5G will facilitate intelligence distributed across the cloud, edge cloud and on-device, with 5G as the connectivity fabric that allows AI to scale to handle the deluge of data from billions of connected devices and objects. This is why our 5G Fund is so complementary to the AI Fund we announced last year and completes our vision for accelerating a connected and intelligent future.

5G will impact every industry — manufacturing, healthcare, retail and entertainment, just to name a few verticals.

Massive technology transitions have huge economic impact too, creating new markets and immense value for the economy.

At the dawn of 4G’s adoption no one could have predicted the new business models that grew on the back of pervasive mobile broadband. 4G made possible all we have come to expect of mobile broadband: streaming video and audio, instantaneous ride sharing and the explosion of social media.

It contributed to the emergence of the shared economy, symbolized by companies like Uber, Airbnb and others. These applications leveraged GPS location and the navigation capabilities of smartphones — some of the key innovations introduced by 4G.

While the so-called “5G killer applications” are still to be seen, the expectations are high. According to IHS, 5G will pump an estimated 12 trillion dollars into the global economy by 2035 and add 22 million new jobs in the United States alone.
While this vision is very exciting, a generational transition in mobile communications doesn’t just happen overnight. It requires significant effort in R&D and the resources necessary to support that effort. It also requires the development of a very broad and innovative ecosystem, from foundational technology providers to application developers.

This is where Qualcomm Ventures’ 5G Ecosystem Fund comes in.

The fund will focus on startups that share the vision of a fully connected digital society, empowered by a unifying connectivity fabric accommodating a diverse range of services.

We plan to invest in disruptive innovation across the entire 5G ecosystem — startups driving new use cases leveraging some of the unique 5G capabilities, companies developing innovative solutions to transform networks into an intelligent, software-defined connectivity fabric and disruptive end-to-end connectivity models for enterprises are just a few examples.

This fund builds on Qualcomm’s cutting-edge 5G research and its heritage of inventing breakthrough technologies that transform how the world connects, computes, and communicates. This also uniquely positions Qualcomm Ventures with a deep understanding of the technologies that are essential for 5G along with a truly global network that startups can leverage to scale their businesses.

We are very excited to announce this 5G Ecosystem Fund and to work with some of the best entrepreneurs in the world. Together we can help bring their innovations to life and make the full potential of 5G a reality.