Qualcomm Ventures’ QPrize Competition Draws Broader VC Following

4/2/13Follow @bvbigelow

When Qualcomm Ventures unveiled the QPrize competition in 2009, Nagraj Kashyap told me a key factor in the decision to create an incentive prize was the evaporation of venture capital amid the liquidity crisis that followed the financial meltdown of 2008.

Kashyap, who heads Qualcomm Ventures, says the need for startup funding is less acute nowadays in the United States. “But outside of North America, there still is clearly a need for this,” especially in places like China, India, and Brazil. Kashyap says he’s also heartened that the competition has attracted a broad following among venture investors.

Qualcomm, which oversees the international prize competition through its venture arm, recently named an Israeli startup, iOnRoad, as the grand prize winner of the third Qualcomm Ventures QPrize. The startup developed a mobile app that enables a smartphone to serve as a dashboard-mounted “personal driving assistant” that monitors speed and traffic conditions and warns motorists when they are driving unsafely—basically an electronic version of a backseat driver. The app includes telematics and a video recording feature that can be used to capture and replay traffic accidents.

After winning $100,000 in venture financing in a regional competition, iOnRoad won an additional $150,000 as the overall QPrize winner.

“From Qualcomm’s perspective, we want to drive innovation throughout the mobile sector,” Kashyap says. “We want the mobile phone to be the center of your life.”

The first stage of the competition is conducted on a regional basis. The competition winnows the … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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