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International relations

Japan to pump $140m into Indian startups via public-private fund

Mizuho, Suzuki Motor and other investors eye IT and AI opportunities

Japan plans to set up its India venture fund this fall, targeting a country with 18 unicorns and a thriving startup scene.

TOKYO -- Japan's government and companies including Mizuho Bank and Suzuki Motor will set up a 15 billion yen ($140 million) fund to invest in over 100 startups in India.

The investors are hoping to unlock opportunities for collaboration with promising Indian ventures, particularly in the fields of "internet of things" and artificial intelligence.

The plan falls under a deal Japan and India reached last October, in which the countries agreed to cooperate on a broad range of projects related to business, technology and human resources.

The fund is to be established by this fall.

In addition to Mizuho and the Development Bank of Japan, companies that are aggressively expanding in India,such as Suzuki and Nippon Life Insurance, will contribute. The Indian government will send specialists who are knowledgeable about local startups to the fund to offer advice on investment targets.

Last fall, Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry set up an office in Bangalore -- home to a cluster of IT companies -- to support Japanese companies' local operations. Tokyo plans to use this office to arrange cooperation between Japanese companies and startups that will be backed by the fund.

India is known for its wealth of IT talent and thriving startup scene. In a report released last October, the National Association of Software and Services Companies of India identified 18 unicorns -- unlisted companies valued above $1 billion -- in the country.

That is the third-highest number of any country, after 126 in the U.S. and 77 in China. Prominent Indian startups include One97 Communications, a mobile payments provider.

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