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Intel, VC partners, set to invest $3.5 billion in U.S. tech firms

Intel announced plans to join some 24 venture capital firms to invest a collective $3.5 billion in U.S.-based technology companies over the next two years.

Intel CEO Paul Otellini also told an audience at the Brookings Institute that the company is part of a group of 17 companies that have pledged to boost hiring of recent college graduates this year. That effort is expected to result in 10,500 new jobs for the graduates, he said.

The companies pledging to hire more graduates include tech heavyweights like Accenture PLC, Adobe Systems Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Dell Inc., EMC Corp., Google Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

“Strong, enduring economies grow out of a culture of investment and a commitment to innovation,” Otellini said. “We simply must have a clear, consistent strategy to promote innovation, investment and start-up companies. There are things business can do, and ought to do, independent of what government achieves. It would be a long-term mistake to let our future scientists and engineers sit idle after graduation.”

The investment effort, which includes some $200 million from Intel's own venture capital arm, is designed to support clean technology, information technology and biotechnology, according to Intel.

“The venture part of this initiative is much needed and well timed,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “First, venture capital is the lifeblood of innovation and private venture capital, which this is, is much more productive when it's invested. This is because the entrepreneurs get more than just seed capital. They get the experience, expertise, and contacts from the venture firm. The recession has put a lot of smart people on the street, many of whom have great ideas for new and innovative products.”

Olds also said the venture capital funding should help boost investments in tech companies that have lagged in recent years.

“We've seen a spectacular drop in VC investment over the past two years,” Olds said. “In 2009, investments in start-ups totaled around $18 billion. Compare that to around $30 billion in 2007. It's easy to see that the additional $3.5 bill is going to be helpful.”

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