How chipmaker Qualcomm is building an internal startup-venture capital ecosystem

Navrina_Singh_QualcommMany corporate innovation programs struggle to produce tangible impact in areas that really matter to senior leadership. The San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm put that challenge front-and-center by dubbing its innovation initiative ImpaQt.

In its first 18 months, says head of innovation Navrina Singh, it delivered a new surround-sound application for HTC smartphones and launched a robotics program to rival Intel, its biggest competitor.

“In 2011, [Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs] asked us to create a new initiative that would be focused on not only technology development but also on activating the change agents within the company so we can bring the right kind of mindset to tech development and problem solving,” says Singh, who reports to Chief Technology Officer Matt Grob. “Basically, that was the genesis of ImpaQt.” The program officially kicked off in 2012.

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