NTT Docomo Creates Venture Fund
TOKYO -- NTT DOCOMO, INC., Japan’s leading mobile operator and provider of integrated services centered on mobility, announced today that it will establish a 10-billion-yen (109 million USD) venture 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 on February 7. As part of this plan, DOCOMO will invest in 500 Startups II, L.P., an incubation fund established by leading seed fund and startup accelerator 500 Startups, which is based in Silicon Valley, California. 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/content, finance/payments, commerce, medical/healthcare, machine-to-machine (M2M), aggregation/platforms, environment/ecology and security/safety. Such efforts are expected to rapidly expand DOCOMO’s involvement with integrated services centered on mobility. Companies developing mobile-related services that have the potential to become global standards are welcomed 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 USD) 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. 500 Startups will organize short study programs in Silicon Valley and introduce experts in various fields to provide guidance and mentoring under the incubation program. Also, DOCOMO employees will be dispatched to 500 Startups to enhance their incubation know-how. NTT Docomo Inc.