What's the Latest Development?

The tech start up is coming to play a key role in the success of large non-technology companies. Best Buy, for instance, invests in a small company called Control4, which makes universal-remote apps that control TV, thermostats, and more. The big box retailer also invests in an augmented reality company working with face-recognition technology. Automaker BMW, has spend $100 million on apps that connect the company to a younger generation. One app tells you when taking the subway would be faster than driving, depending on lights and traffic.

What's the Big Idea?

By funding start ups that have fresh ideas, larger companies give themselves the first dibs on any new technology that might result from their investment, giving them an edge over competitors. A subsidiary of De Beers Jewellery spends millions of dollars funding tech start ups that use synthetic diamonds, which have a high thermal conductivity and resist radiation. The health-insurance giant BlueCross BlueShield is helping to fund the digital health care revolution, investing in companies that streamline electronic record keeping and make mobile medical devices. 

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