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Siemens forms $100M fund to back early-stage startups in industrial automation

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German engineering and electronics conglomerate Siemens AG has launched a new $100 million global VC fund, which will focus on early-stage startups operating in the field of industrial automation. Christened Industry of The Future Fund, it has already invested in two companies—Montreal-based Lagoa, which provides cloud-based, 3D visualisation software, and Boston-based CounterTack, a developer of next generation cyber security software.

This is a separate fund by Siemens, which is already running a fund called Siemens Venture Capital (SVC), which invests in companies in the energy, industry and healthcare sectors.

"As digitisation and software are becoming increasingly important for manufacturers to compete in the global marketplace, the new fund will provide capital to those companies whose innovative technologies and vision have the potential to change the landscape of manufacturing and industrial automation," said Siegfried Russwurm, CEO of Siemens industry sector and member of the managing board of Siemens AG.

It is one among many global corporations which run venture funding arms. Recently Dell Ventures announced the launch of a $300-million strategic innovation venture fund. The fund will invest in early-to-growth-stage companies in emerging technology areas, including storage, cloud computing, Big Data, next-generation data centre, security and mobility.

Other leading companies, including Nokia (Nokia Growth Partners), Google (Google Ventures), Microsoft (Microsoft Venture), Qualcomm (Qualcomm Ventures) and Intel (Intel Capital) are already running early-stage investment funds.

Back home, Pune-based Persistent Systems is running Persistent Venture Fund, an early-stage fund to provide seed capital to companies operating in the areas of social, mobile, analytics and cloud computing (SMAC).

In April last year, home-grown software major Infosys had also announced that it would set up an innovation fund worth $100 million to focus on new ideas, products and platforms. Wipro had also been investing in tech startups.

These are separate from the personal investment outfits of the founders of the two IT firms. Wipro chairman Azim Premji has a separate private investment arm called PremjiInvest which recently led a $50 million investment round in lifestyle apparel e-tailer Myntra.

Infosys' co-founder NR Narayana Murthy's Catamaran is another private investor in the country.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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