Nokia is strengthening its venture capital arm, the company said today, while Google is close to starting a similar entity of its own.
Nokia Growth Partners will inject $150 million from Nokia itself, resulting in $250 total value for the investment division that formed in 2004. The money will help Nokia expand its investments into India and China, officials said.
“Target investments include companies creating innovative mobile applications and services that encourage rapid adoption of mobile solutions, such as context and location based services, mobile payments, mobile advertising, music and entertainment and other mobile services and software,” the company said.
Nokia also will use the money for its Western investments, which include investments in other specialized venture capital companies.
Google is close to announcing a similar group, the Wall Street Journal reported today. The search giant recently hired an outside expert but it’s unclear what kind of technologies would be the focus. Google already gives some money through its Google.org philanthropic arm.
It is not uncommon for technology companies to get into the VC world. Qualcomm and Research In Motion are examples of mobile specialists that do so. Amazon, Comcast and Intel are others.
The investments can be practical, because it’s far less costly to gain equity in hot startups when they are young, compared to making large acquisitions after the startups find success.