The corporate venture fund of Wipro has invested $24.5 Mn in nine startups between 2015 – 2017, according to its recent annual filings with the US Securities Exchange Commission.
The startups funded by the Wipro venture fund to date include Vectra Networks, Emailage Corporation, Altizon Systems, Vicarious, Drivestream Inc, Avaamo, Intsights, Talena, and TradeShift.
The Wipro Venture Fund: Funded Startups
Vectra Networks: Based in the US, Vectra automates the hunt for hidden threats inside campus centers, and the cloud by continuously monitoring internal network traffic to detect cyber attacks in real-time.
Emailage Corporation: Emailage connects companies around the world in the fight against fraud. It provides innovative fraud prevention and risk assessment technologies to help partners grow their business.
Altizon Systems: Pune-based Altizon is an IoT startup, whose flagship platform Datonis is used by enterprises dealing in the manufacturing and cleantech sectors for condition monitoring, predictive analytics, operations and for driving consumer insights.
Avaamo: Avaamo provides an AI-driven, enterprise bot platform that dramatically reduces the time needed to design and deploy enterprise bots to corporate employees and their customers.
Intsights: IntSights is a cyber-threat intelligence service provider whose technology detects, analyses, and remediates cyber-attacks, as well as prevents exploitation of data and personnel.
Talena: The startup delivers optimised backup, recovery, and test data management and archive functions for modern big data platforms such as Cassandra Couchbase, Hadoop, and HPE Vertica, enabling users to prevent data loss, minimise compliance risk, and deliver applications faster.
TradeShift: It helps transform and digitise the supply chain, by leveraging cloud technology to improve source-to-pay (S2P) business processes such as AP automation, procurement, supplier management, and working capital optimisation.
Vicarious: Vicarious is building a unified algorithmic architecture to achieve human-level intelligence in vision, language, and motor control.
Drivestream Inc: Bengaluru-based Drivestream is a management and IT consulting firm specialising in Oracle Cloud Services (HCM, ERP, Planning & Budgeting), and on-premise People Soft application implementation, upgrades, enhancements and ongoing support.
The Wipro venture fund was set up in July 2014 with a $100 Mn corpus to invest in early- to middle-stage startups, globally. The fund is said to be driven by Chief Strategy Officer Rishad Premji, the elder son of Wipro chairman Azim Premji. The venture fund is focussed on niche technology startups such as data, open source, industrial Internet, AI, fintech, mobility, and more.
Infosys, another IT major in the country, also launched a $500 Mn Innovation fund in 2013 with a corpus of $100 Mn earmarked for startups and other innovative businesses outside the company. As earlier reported by Inc42, in January 2017, Infosys has invested a little over $62 Mn from its venture fund in startups operating in spaces such as IoT, automation, and drones. This funding included Unsilo, Cloudyn, and TidalScale along with venture capital firms such as Stellaris Venture Partners, Trifecta Capital, and more.
The SEC filing also revealed that for FY ‘17, Azim Premji earned a total payout of around $121,843 (INR 7.8 Mn).
Wipro: Other Research And Development Initiatives
Wipro is currently focussed on strengthening its IT service portfolio in multiple new and emerging technology areas. As mentioned in the SEC filing, isfocussed currently on strengthening its IT service portfolio in multiple new and emerging technology areas. As mentioned in the SEC filing,
“We are investing extensively in developing solutions and services in multiple advanced technology areas (e.g. commercial wearables, smart robotics, machine vision, autonomous vehicles, augmented reality, virtual reality and among others), co-innovating with customers on emerging themes (Digital), enabling new customer experiences, building our patent portfolio, shaping innovation culture by running a number of initiatives to support and fund ideas and also by working closely with partner/startups ecosystem, academia and expert networks to provide the latest innovations to our customers.”
Wipro is also on its way for developing new ways of software development using crowd-sourcing, and in new architectures like blockchain, edge-based architectures for IoT and always-on architectures. This is aimed at strengthening its existing capabilities and enhance their platforms for rich customer experience.
“For example, we developed the Wipro IMAGINE solution which has a near-human ability of having intuitive conversations thereby providing personalised experience accurately and efficiently. It will empower our customers with support available across all the channels of communication such as interactive voice response, text chat, SMS, support centre, social media and email, irrespective of the modes of communication,” said Wipro in the SEC filing.
With a commitment to further its journey in AI, Wipro has also been experimenting with learning systems using cognitive technologies for a number of business scenarios, which later led to the launch of – HOLMES – an AI platform which helps enterprises hyper automate processes, redefine operations and reimagine customer journeys. “We have created an independent business unit within the company to scale this significantly in the year ended March 31, 2018,” was mentioned in the SEC filing.
Wipro is also part of the NASSCOM Industry Partner Program (NIPP) and Microsoft Accelerator to help connect promising startups and help them with growth. It is further expected to launch its new and state-of-the-art Technovation Center in Mountain View, California, in the year ended March 31,2018, which will serve the North American clients of Wipro.
“We are actively building solutions around industrial robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles which, combined with the computer vision and cognitive capabilities, can address a variety of market needs across industry verticals. We are also working on industrial and enterprise wearable solutions which help improve workforce productivity and safety. We have developed a video and image analytics platform which uses machine learning/deep learning techniques to analyse video/image inputs and provides the actionable insights. The solutions built over the platform will help solve a number of complex problems across industries especially associated with human safety and response time,” was also stated in the SEC filing.