Philips Sees the Light in In­dian Star­tu­p­land Now

Co may set up ven­ture fund for health­care cos

The Economic Times - - Disruption: - Anir­ban.Sen@ times­

Ben­galuru: Dutch con­sumer elec­tron­ics and health­care giant Philips is look­ing to join the ranks of other global For­tune 500 com­pa­nies in lever­ag­ing In­dia’s rapid­lye­volv­ing startup ecosys­tem and is ini­ti­at­ing moves to set up a ven­ture fund that will look to in­vest in In­dian health­care tech­nol­ogy star­tups, a top ex­ec­u­tive told ET.

In an in­ter­view, Philips veteran Jeroen Tas, who cur­rently heads the com­pany’s con­nected care and health in­for­mat­ics busi­ness, said that the plans to set up an In­dia-fo­cused ven­ture fund were still at an early stage and would also de­pend on the suc­cess of sim­i­lar funds that Philips has set up in Is­rael and Nether­lands.

“We are also look­ing at set­ting up a ven­ture fund — we al­ready have ven­ture funds in Is­rael, and we have al­ready in­vested in a cou­ple of small in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies. We have a ven­ture fund in the Nether­lands and we’ll def­i­nitely look at do­ing some­thing here — It’ll en­tirely fo­cus on health­care tech­nol­ogy set­ups,” said Tas, who co­founded IT ser­vices firm Mpha­sis. Ear­lier this week, pri­vate eq­uity fund Black­stone bought HP’s 60% stake in Mpha­sis for up to $1.1 bil­lion.

Tas did not share spe­cific de­tails of the pro­posed new ven­ture fund, but said it would be along sim­i­lar lines of the fund the com­pany set up in Is­rael. In July last year, Philips and Is­rael-based pharma com­pany Teva jointly set up a $30-mil­lion ven­ture fund to in­vest in med­i­cal de­vices and health­care tech­nol­ogy star­tups in Is­rael over eight years.

Tas, who also in­tends to park him­self in the front rows of pitch­ing ses­sions from In­dian star­tups on his next visit to In­dia, said that Ben­galuru had be­come an im­por- tant hub for the com­pany, given the abun­dance of high-qual­ity tech ta­lent.

“We have a cou­ple of hubs that are re­ally im­por­tant to us — clearly Ban­ga­lore is one, Eind­hoven is one. We have a smaller hub in the US and Is­rael. And each of these are in places where we have an ecosys­tem,” said Tas.

In In­dia, Philips is also look­ing to sig­nif­i­cantly ramp up its data-an­a­lyt­ics team and hire hun­dreds of data sci­en­tists over the next 5 years. The com­pany, cur­rently, has about 200 data sci­en­tists work­ing out of its Ben­galuru tech­nol­ogy cen­tre.

“We will po­ten­tially have 2,000 peo­ple in Ban­ga­lore as part of the data science team — up from 200 now. The kind of ta­lent we are look­ing for is peo­ple with a science back­ground. The best peo­ple who are

JEROENTAS Philips veteran We have a cou­ple of hubs that are re­ally im­por­tant to us — clearly Ban­ga­lore is one, Eind­hoven is one

re­ally good at this have a sta­tis­ti­cal back­ground. We’re also look­ing at peo­ple who have done busi­ness an­a­lyt­ics — also peo­ple who have ma­jored in physics, chem­istry, etc. That kind of back­ground,” said Tas.

“If you look at the growth that we’ve had over the past 5 years, we’ve grown at 25% ev­ery year. We have close to 3,000 peo­ple over here at Philips In­no­va­tion Cen­tre on our pay­roll. And we have more peo­ple on our pay­roll. What we are do­ing will be more in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty sen­si­tive. And we see these as core skills,” he said.

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