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NTT Docomo eyeing more startup investments

Mobile carrier to focus on AI, IoT ventures in Israel, Silicon Valley

TOKYO -- NTT Docomo will invest in 20 startups in Japan and elsewhere in the year ending March 2018, about double the current fiscal year's figure, a company source said.

The Japanese mobile carrier will focus its investments on two sectors -- artificial intelligence and the internet of things, or IoT, in which myriad appliances are expected to be connected to the internet.

By investing in companies with technologies that would support its core mobile and IT services, NTT Docomo aims to expand its domestic services.

NTT Docomo Ventures, an investing subsidiary in Tokyo, will be tasked with looking for prospective candidate companies in locations like Silicon Valley in the U.S., Israel and Europe.

NTT Docomo believes Israel has a lot of top AI-related technologies, especially in the area of information security. It would like to invest in some of this tech, then use it to provide counter-cyberattack services as well as safe financial transactions.

Other potential services the company hopes to provide by acquiring technologies include:

  • An analytics system to determine individual users' preferences;
  • A highly secure financial transaction service for online retailers.

It expects to invest 100 million yen to 200 million yen ($900,000 to $1.8 million) in each startup.

NTT Docomo Ventures has invested in about 50 companies to date, including 10 in the current fiscal year, which runs through March.

(Nikkei)

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