Foxconn, is the world’s largest contract manufacturer of consumer electronics is setting up a venture capital fund in India, which will invest in tech and hardware start-ups.

A 35-member delegation from Foxconn visited Bengaluru on Saturday to explore investment opportunities and met the founders of 30 start-ups including healthcare firm Practo, automotive start-up Ather Energy and online furniture store Urban Ladder.

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They also met with top Indian entrepreneurs including Flipkart founder Sachin Bansal and Mukesh Bansal, who sold his fashion portal Myntra to Flipkart.

“Foxconn is very much interested in investing in India. Our Chairman (Terry Gou) is going on a field trip here,” mentioned Vincent W.H. Tong, Executive Director at FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Technology Group also known as Foxconn.

“Bengaluru and Karnataka is definitely a key area that we are looking at. We are on this trip to understand the technology capabilities and all the entrepreneurs in Bengaluru which really impressed us,” said Mr. Tong, who has been to India three times to explore the business opportunities.

The Taipei-based maker of Apple Inc.’s iPhone declined to reveal the size of the fund for the India market. Mr. Tong said the purpose of the trip is to meet people, analyse the market and then decide the resources that need to be invested in the country.

The firm is also planning to set up a start-up incubator. It plans to invest in areas such as services, mobile internet, e-commerce and hardware technologies.

“We will help start-ups grow faster and not just provide capital, every one else can provide, Foxconn has a unique strength that has been seen in China,” said Mr. Tong.

“This is a huge opportunity for Indian start-ups,” said Ravi Gururaj, Chairman of Nasscom Product Council, who hosted the delegation.

Foxconn is also scouting for a local partnership in the country to set up a manufacturing plant in the country.

Besides Apple’s iPhone and iPad, the company manufactures products such as the BlackBerry, Kindle, PlayStation and Xbox One. Jacob Chen, Corporate Executive Vice-President at Foxconn Technology Group, said that the venture capital fund will invest across 11 categories of devices such as wearable devices, smart phones, tablets. He said the fund would also support areas such as cloud computing, internet and data centres.

“We came now because we agree with the vision of the country, environment and it is opportunity for us as well,” said Mr. Chen.

Foxconn already had operational units since 2006 in the special economic zone of Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The firm closed the unit last December that affected about 1,306 employees. Last June, the company invested $377 million (Rs.2,389 crore) to pick up a 4.9 per cent shareholding in South Korean IT services provider SK C&C. Two years ago, it announced plans to invest $40 million (Rs.253 crore) in Pennsylvania, the U.S. to develop robotics.

The company had said that it would invest $30 million (Rs.190 crore) over two years to build a manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania, as well as put $10 million (Rs.63 crore) into research and development at Carnegie Mellon University.

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Shivani Pandita

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