NTT DOCOMO, the Tokyo-headquartered mobile operator and provider of integrated services centered on mobility, announced today that it will establish a 10-billion-yen ($109 million) venture capital fund and a related operating company in late February to accelerate development of new businesses for smartphones and tablets. DOCOMO will also launch an incubation program to support startups and venture companies. As part of this plan, DOCOMO will invest in seed fund and startup acccelerator 500 Startups.
The investment into 500 Startups’ Fund II is being made from DOCOMO Capital, a US-based subsidiary of the Japanese company, said a press release issued yesterday. 500 Startups raised its $50 million Fund II last April.
DOCOMO, on behalf of its parent NTT Group, aims to strengthen cooperation with venture companies through initiatives such as investments, primarily in Japan, to help upgrade services and technologies for smart devices in existing fields of business. It also will accelerate development of business models, services and technologies in eight new strategic fields: media and content, finance and payments, commerce, medical and healthcare, machine-to-machine (M2M), aggregation and platforms, environment and ecology and security.
Companies developing mobile-related services that have the potential to become global standards are are invited to apply for the incubation program until March 11. Startups and venture companies selected for the program will be provided with various resources and know-how, including up to 2 million yen ($23,000) seed funding in convertible notes, use of office space, other infrastructure conducive to business development, and mentoring on management and development. DOCOMO and 500 Startups will jointly help participants tap into markets in North America and other regions.