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MediaTek seeds new investment arm with $300M war chest

The chipmaker plans to use MediaTek Ventures to build up an ecosystem of startups around its products and services.

The entrance to MediaTek's booth for this year's CES at The Venetian. Ben Fox Rubin/CNET

Taiwanese chipmaker MediaTek unveiled a new investment arm and funded it with $300 million, hoping to use the group to raise its influence and lesser-known profile in the tech world.

MediaTek Ventures, based in the company's hometown of Hsinchu, Taiwan, will start investing in startups in Greater China, Europe, Japan and North America that are working on chips, Internet infrastructure and connected devices. The company, which announced the investment arm Sunday ahead of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, said it hopes to use the new group to create an ecosystem of startups around MediaTek's products and services and help build up the next generation of entrepreneurs.

The venture arm is part of MediaTek's strategy to become a bigger player in tech, after it's dominated the Chinese smartphone market for low- and mid-tier devices. In the 10 years since it entered the mobile market, MediaTek has rapidly grown to become the second-biggest mobile chips company in the world. Still, its name isn't all that well-known outside of China. MediaTek now has its sights on expanding in the US, in hopes of taking on San Diego, Calif.-based Qualcomm, the top mobile chipmaker.

MediaTek Ventures follows in the footsteps of several larger chipmakers creating their own investment arms. Qualcomm Ventures, formed in 2000, has investments in Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, fitness band company Fitbit and mobile-messaging service Tango. Intel Capital, since its creation in 1991, has invested more than $11 billion in over 1,400 companies. Many other major tech companies also have investment arms, such as Google Ventures, Microsoft Ventures and Samsung Venture Investment Corp., so MediaTek will have plenty of competition in finding hot new startups for investment.

MediaTek said it plans to provide more details on its investment strategy and roadmap in the second half of the year.