Home CATEGORIES Education and Skill Training Global CSR Report: Qualcomm supports education and innovation
Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch and expansion of 5G. When they connected the phone to the internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, their foundational technologies enable the mobile ecosystem and are found in every 3G, 4G and 5G smartphone.
Qualcomm CDMA Technologies (QCT) is a leading developer and supplier of integrated circuits and system software based on 3G/4G/5G and other technologies for use in wireless voice and data communications, networking, computing, multimedia and global positioning systems products. Qualcomm Technology Licensing (QTL) grants licenses or otherwise provides rights to use portions of intellectual property (IP) portfolio. Qualcomm Strategic Initiatives (QSI) makes strategic investments primarily through Qualcomm Ventures arm that are focused on expanding or opening new opportunities for their technologies as well as supporting the design and introduction of new products and services (or enhancing existing products or services).
1. Qualcomm for Good
Qualcomm for Good is the company’s commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen. It’s about integrating sustainability into their business and using breakthrough technologies to make the world a better place. The success of their business is fundamentally connected to the well-being of their people, the planet and the world.
The world is becoming increasingly connected. We all have an unprecedented opportunity to build on the legacy of sustainable innovation and use breakthrough technologies to tackle global challenges, inspire tomorrow’s workforce and make a positive difference for decades to come.
1.1. Four key areas
The conglomerate’s priorities include four areas where they believe they can make the greatest impact and ensure the long-term success of business.
1) Purposeful Innovation: Invent breakthrough technologies that enable life-changing products and experiences.
2) Responsible Business: Uphold the highest level of integrity and privacy protection with responsibly designed products, respect for human rights and managing environmental impact.
3) People: Promote equality to make Qualcomm an inspiring and inclusive workplace that advances the development of leading-edge technologies.
4) STEM Education: Inspire the next generation of innovators to develop the workforce in STEM-based careers.
These corporate responsibility priorities integrate the company’s key focus areas: Purposeful Innovation, Inclusion and Diversity, Ethics and Governance, Sustainable Product Design, Privacy and Security and Public Policy and Regulation.
2. CSR Governance
Everyone is responsible for Corporate Responsibility at Qualcomm. They have integrated CSR throughout the Company, from daily operations to executive leadership and Board of Directors. The governance structure exists to facilitate accountability, transparency and the ongoing improvement of their programmes. The Governance Committee of the Board provides oversight on corporate responsibility matters, including ESG topics. Also, the HR and Compensation Committee of the Board provides guidance to management on policies, programmes and initiatives focusing on diversity and inclusion.
The Corporate Responsibility Leadership Committee reports at least annually on the Company’s CSR and ESG policies, programmes, initiatives and reporting to the Governance Committee of the Board. The Corporate Responsibility Leadership Committee is composed of executives and senior management from across the company, including human resources, legal, government affairs, supply chain, ethics and compliance, investor relations, operations and finance. Their Leadership Committee provides guidance on global corporate responsibility issues that are most important to Qualcomm and key stakeholders so that corporate responsibility remains a central and visible component of business strategy.
The Corporate Responsibility Governance Committee implements directives from the Leadership Committee into company-wide programmes, measures progress on goals and reports accomplishments and challenges. This Committee includes managers and other subject matter experts from across the company such as investor relations, supply chain management, inclusion and diversity, STEM education, environmental sustainability, health and safety and legal, among others.
3. Smart Agriculture
Qualcomm collaborates with NGOs, governments and other public and private organizations to demonstrate how mobile technology can improve social and economic development in underserved regions. They support smart agriculture programmes that showcase the power of technology to help end hunger, improve food security and nutrition, promote sustainability and improve livelihoods.
The agricultural industry is central to China’s poverty elimination efforts and its rural revitalization strategy. As part of their ongoing support of these strategic initiatives, Wireless Reach is collaborating with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) on a smart agriculture programme. They are bringing together IoT, mobile internet and cloud computing technology to help traditional agricultural cooperatives compete in the digital age, which is intended to drive industrial and rural revitalization in four impoverished counties. The intelligent system uses sensors and other equipment powered by the company’s technology to monitor, collect and analyze farm-specific data that farmers can use to inform their production and quality control decisions. Cooperative associations and farmers can access the data through a mobile app.
Having accurate, precise, real-time data about air temperature, humidity, soil quality and insects at their farms helps farmers determine the best times to plant and harvest and how to irrigate and fertilize more efficiently. The expected results: increased crop yields, reduced environmental impact and income growth for farmers and agricultural cooperatives. As of April 2021, the smart system has been deployed at a mango farm and red rice field in two rural counties. The 5,000 farmers who are projected to participate in this program will also be provided with training to improve their skills in e-commerce operations, marketing and promotion, brand building and supply chain management.
Similarly, farmers in India are using the Wireless Reach funded FarmPrecise mobile app to improve various aspects of their farming operations, help reduce risks to their crops related to climate change and weather uncertainty and increase their incomes. Developed by Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), this mobile app empowers farmers with personalized information for making decisions that are appropriate, timely and beneficial for their specific farm, crops, business and the environment. The objective of the mobile app is to help reduce costs, increase crop yield, mitigate risks from erratic weather and promote farming practices for long term environment and livelihood sustainability. Farmers enter information about their crops, soil and sowing dates into FarmPrecise. The app then uses that information to generate advisories tailored to each farmer’s crops and farm-specific conditions. Advisories provide guidance for good field management and environmentally friendly practices from irrigation to pest management to which fertilizers to use and recommended doses.
FarmPrecise provides five-day weather forecasts to help farmers plan, and it responds to changes in weather conditions with updated weather-based advisories. Among the app’s most popular features are a diary for accurately tracking income and expenses, a community forum to ask questions and commodity prices from various agricultural markets that enable the farmer to decide when to sell their produce to obtain the best price. The user-friendly features are driving engagement and usage has increased over two-fold in a year. FarmPrecise is currently deployed in three states in India — Maharashtra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh — is available in four languages, provides advisories for 25 different crops and has been downloaded more than 48,000 times.
4. Smart Healthcare
To power the exponential growth of telehealth and telemedicine, Qualcomm Connected Healthcare collaborates with industry-leading healthcare companies to innovate and develop scalable end-to-end technologies for a variety of healthcare services in order to enhance virtual interaction across the medical infrastructure.
This collaborative approach helps to break down barriers by making it more cost effective for hospitals and care providers to implement a connected health solution. Their technology solutions feature advanced connectivity, low-power compute capabilities, the flexibility to implement a variety of AI use cases, as well as the ability to utilize input technology in camera/video applications and voice/ audio technologies. Their products are integrated in healthcare solutions such as remote patient monitoring and medication monitoring, chronic disease management, prevention and wellness, aging in place, connected imaging, patient re-admission management, at-home medical and tele ICU.
Also, security-rich 5G connectivity can empower doctors and healthcare providers to do more for their patients remotely than has ever been possible. The use of 5G connectivity to diagnose and treat people who need care remotely can have tremendous impacts on access to health care and help narrow the urban-rural divide. Within the healthcare space, their technology is also used to provide a reliable solution for the safe and timely delivery of vaccines in low- and middle income countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on important cold chain management requirements for vaccines, previously mostly known only to the scientific community. Most vaccines must be continuously stored at cold temperatures to maintain their potency. Some COVID-19 vaccines have specific cold chain requirements, starting with the temperature of the storage unit at the vaccine manufacturing plant and extending all the way through transport and delivery, storage, handling at the provider facility and vaccination.
Developed through close collaboration between Nexleaf Analytics and VVDN Technologies with additional expertise provided by Qualcomm engineers, ColdTrace X is an innovative wireless solution designed to equip countries to monitor their cold chain systems effectively and protect the potency of life-saving vaccines. It provides a robust and affordable solution for governments to have real-time visibility into how their cold chain is performing.
A widely cited WHO/UNICEF statement found 55% of cold chain equipment in low- and middle-income countries is poorly performing or non-functional. This innovation is particularly valuable now to safely distribute COVID-19 vaccines and for routine infant immunizations for diseases like measles, polio and pneumonia.
ColdTrace X uses temperature sensor nodes, Bluetooth and cellular technology to continuously monitor temperatures inside vaccine refrigerators and cold rooms, send SMS alerts when temperatures move out of the required range and collect high-quality data that can be used to remotely diagnose refrigeration problems, arrange for maintenance and verify repairs. The system’s base station offers battery life that lasts up to seven days, ensuring continuous operation in the event of a connectivity or power disruption and the ability to store data for several months. Training is provided for cold chain handlers to ensure that they understand and can use the data and analytics generated by the system. Currently, data from several devices is being used in conversations around COVID-19 vaccine storage and logistics.
5. Transforming Education
Another important sector that stands to benefit from the promises of the new generation of wireless technologies is education. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the depth of a digital divide that’s long existed in education, put a halt to traditional classroom education and accelerated the urgency for equitable solutions. Many of these digital divide challenges evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic arise from a lack of reliable access to broadband, especially in underserved or rural communities, resulting in impacts on students’ abilities to learn, communicate and develop the skills they need for future success.
While these challenges are mounting, 5G is designed to directly address the root of the problem, and it’s Qualcomm 5G breakthroughs paving the way for transformation in education. Remote learning rose to the challenge – making it possible to deliver quality education to students around the world. Through Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Programme, members can provide education as a service which allows school districts globally direct access to ecosystem members that work to enable smart classrooms and hybrid learning settings.
The company is working with partners to offer interactive whiteboards and digital podiums designed for live collaboration, where teachers can work with students in the classroom and in a virtual environment – allowing the students the ability to easily annotate on the same whiteboard regardless of whether they are present in the classroom or connecting from their homes. These types of solutions also allow both students and teachers to engage in seamless collaboration and communication. Furthermore, it facilitates greater content management opportunities, a better digital experience and online training opportunities for educators.
Through the accelerator programme members’ service offering in the education space, they look at accelerating the IoT deployment for schools, universities and skills development for smart cities. To address the digital divide in urban areas, cities can implement private 5G networks and IoT technologies to help bring connectivity to all parts of the city, while helping support costs through offering different revenue generating services. In today’s digital world, where nearly every career requires digital literacy, computers are still an unaffordable luxury for many children across the globe, particularly in rural areas. In Vietnam, Wireless Reach collaborated with The Dariu Foundation to bring educational laptops with mobile network connectivity to schools in Vietnam.
More than 900 “Always On, Always Connected PCs” (ACPCs) powered by Snapdragon compute platforms were distributed to teachers and students at 30 schools in rural communities across five provinces. For the 2021-22 academic year, over 700 additional ACPCs will be distributed to new schools in rural communities in the northern and central highland regions of Vietnam. The programme has already equipped over 30,000 students with the foundational digital skills to succeed in online and blended learning environments.
The programme is also designed to help ensure continuity of learning whether students are at home or in the classroom. These ACPCs are equipped with mobile LTE capabilities to enable a continuous connection to the Internet. Pre-installed with a Microsoft Windows 10 operating system, they are ultra-thin and lightweight while offering fast performance, powerhouse multimedia capabilities and multiday battery life. These features make the devices extremely portable, enabling students to extend learning time outside the classroom and to access vital learning tools anytime and anywhere.
The Dariu Foundation provides professional development for teachers and trains them to deliver in-class lessons that equip students with STEM skills, including coding, computer science and cyber robotics. Currently, students ages 9 to 15 are using the ACPCs in a computer lab format. A selected number of students are taking the devices home to work on collaborative coding assignments. The programme reflects Qualcomm’s priorities as part of the Global Education Coalition. The coalition aims to meet the urgent and unprecedented need for education continuity considering school closures, caused by the shift to remote learning and the interruption of teaching and learning brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
6. STEM Education
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is the foundation for everything the people at the company do. It supports the brainpower behind the breakthrough technologies and inventions they bring to life. As technology leaders and a company of inventors, they are committed to nurturing and equipping future innovators with the skills and knowledge to solve global challenges. They work to foster a diverse and inclusive workforce by advancing STEM education for students at all levels and from all backgrounds.
A steady, diverse pipeline of STEM professionals is vital for Qualcomm’s continued leadership in technologies such as 5G and beyond. It invests in initiatives that:
– Bridge the STEM skills gap among students globally
– Build STEM capacity among teachers and educators
– Engage women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields
– Leverage employees as STEM ambassadors in our communities
Their 2025 STEM goal is to continue to foster the next generation of innovators by inspiring 1.5 million students and teachers across the globe through strategic STEM initiatives. In 2021, they made great progress in this area. In 2021, they reached 561,063 students and 12,817 teachers through CSR investments in the future workforce, such as our Thinkabit Lab summer programming, alliance with FIRST and numerous other key collaborations across the globe.
6.1. Thinkabit Lab 2021 Impact
The Thinkabit Lab programme shows students from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds that they can be part of inventing the wireless world of the future. Learners of all ages explore careers available at Qualcomm and other technology companies. They engage in fun and unique engineering projects, culminating in the design of an IoT-themed invention that addresses a problem in their community and the world around them.
The programme relies heavily on hands-on activities to learn about coding, sensors, circuits, patents, IoT, 5G and more. These activities help students understand where they see themselves in the future workforce and how they could use technology to help make the world a better place. They launched our Thinkabit Lab programme in 2014 at Qualcomm’s headquarters in San Diego.
They have evolved and expanded the programme yearly to broaden their reach and create greater impact. As of 2021, the programme has inspired more than 85,000 students across the U.S. to become the next generation of inventors and helped them to create more than 24,000 of their own inventions. Through collaborations with public, private and nonprofit organizations, they now have a celebrated network of 22 Thinkabit Lab collaborators and more than 56 trained educators and instructors at schools, universities, non-profits and libraries in eight states nationwide. They also expanded the programme with new online and virtual learning experiences, including virtual summer STEM camps that have enabled many more future inventors to participate.
In 2021, to maintain the momentum and build on the terrific success of virtual camps implemented the previous summer during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company resumed in-person camps at select sites within the national network and continued offering virtual camps. Collectively, they provided 37 weeklong camp sessions with over 1,200 elementary, middle and high school students including nine all-girls sessions.
To further inspire camp participants, they added engaging new content, such as the Path to Invention and 5G Academy. The Path to Invention aims to spark the spirit of innovation among students, while facilitating greater understanding of the route of invention – from idea to development to obtaining a patent and all the way through to production and sales. Because patents are vital to innovation, students showcased their final projects in the form of patent presentations as a culminating camp activity. These video presentations included components such as the name of their inventions, invention schematics and an abstract of their creation. The 5G Academy is comprised of a website and field guide that explain the ins and outs of 5G, Qualcomm’s role in developing this fifth generation of wireless technology and why the world will be a better place because of this transformative advancement.
They leveraged the 5G Academy to add a new 5G activity for students participating in all their camps. Their online Learning Center continues to provide educators, librarians, youth organization leaders and other adult community members nationwide with access to a variety of fun and free coding activities and other educational resources that can be downloaded for use in their classroom, home or organization. Activities range from writing code to introductory engineering games and tools to exploring future careers in technology. These materials help Thinkabit Lab collaborators and participants engage in STEM learning even outside of the formalized programmes.
They have continued to tap into Qualcomm employees’ passion and commitment to inspire future inventors. Employees participated in the new summer speakership opportunity. As volunteers, they represented both engineering and non-engineering roles and the diversity within the workforce. Collectively, they volunteered over 90 hours of their time to speak to aspiring young inventors about working in the tech industry and offer insight as they navigate their future STEM education and careers.
They formed new partnerships and built on existing collaborations to further expand our reach and amplify our impact. Part of the unprecedented student participation this year is attributed to our expansion through AAUW. In addition to existing relationship with AAUW Tech Trek California, three other states joined the network – Florida, New Mexico and Washington. Together, over 650 girls were engaged in the Thinkabit Lab Wearable Tech project which required each student to programme and build an automated wearable tech invention that represents their strengths, interests and values.
6.2. STEM Community Partnerships
The ongoing collaboration with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is another important way that the company is increasing access to STEM education and investing in the development of the future workforce. FIRST is the world’s leading youth-serving non-profit organization advancing STEM education. FIRST engages students in grades PreK-12 in hands-on, mentor-based robotics programmes to help them become science and technology leaders and well-rounded contributors to society. Qualcomm has been a proud supporter of FIRST since 2006. As a FIRST Strategic Partner, Qualcomm directly supports FIRST events, programmes and thousands of teams globally via direct funding and time donated by hundreds of employees.
In 2021, FIRST programmes, mentorship and competition remained largely virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to keep students engaged in STEM learning throughout the season, they collaborated with FIRST to expand its innovation programming to also include middle and high school students in the FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition for the first time. The virtual format of the new FIRST Innovation Challenge presented by Qualcomm helped enable FIRST to provide 23,580 students in 13 countries with opportunities to innovate and drive solutions to real world problems. Through the Innovation Challenge, teams identified a problem or opportunity connected to the season’s sports and fitness theme, designed a solution, created a business model and pitch and advanced their skills by using technology as part of the process.
Examples of teams’ innovations included the Walk Assistant, which aims to provide a hands-free solution for patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease; PATHWAYS, a mobility tool for the visually impaired; and FIGLOVE, a vibrating strip placed in the palm of the hand that reduces pain during exercise for people with fibromyalgia.
In addition to helping ensure the continuity of the 2020-2021 FIRST season, the virtual programming made it possible for Qualcomm to maintain its high level of employee engagement in FIRST programmes. Employees across the Company donated thousands of hours of their time to engage students virtually. In 2021, they also expanded programme support and employee engagement to FIRST in Singapore. Programme funding in Singapore helped teams from under-resourced communities and engaged nearly 1,000 students from across the region. Qualcomm employees from four countries supported the event by serving as virtual judges for the competition.
Looking ahead, they are excited to be the presenting sponsor for the 2021-2022 youth robotics season, FIRST FORWARD presented by Qualcomm. The season theme focuses on the future of transportation – inspiring and empowering FIRST teams to collectively reimagine innovative solutions for faster, reliable, more sustainable transportation in urban and rural areas alike.
6.2.2. Million Girls Moonshot
Million Girls Moonshot is a transformative, nationwide initiative that’s re-imagining who can engineer, who can build and who can invent. It aims to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators by engaging one million more girls in STEM learning opportunities through after-school and summer programmes by 2025. The Moonshot aligns with our Company’s goal to increase diversity of talent in the STEM workforce pipeline. Through a collaborative funding model, the Moonshot provides grants to every state in the country through the 50 State After-school Networks to help them support equity-focused, hands-on STEM learning experiences to students in after-school programmes. Qualcomm’s support of the Moonshot’s inaugural year during a global pandemic was instrumental in building a successful foundation towards empowering one million girls with an engineering mindset.
Highlights of the Moonshot’s first-year impact:
– Connected nearly 400,000 students, including more than 160,000 girls, in 20,990 after-school STEM programmes to the Moonshot curricula
– Engaged 612 new state network level partners
– Provided resources and experts to STEM-related conferences hosted by 43 state networks, reaching 11,000 after-school and summer leaders and providers
– Awarded $1.3 million to all 50 State After-school Networks
Qualcomm will continue to support the Moonshot’s efforts to provide STEM programming in the 50 State After-school Networks. Additionally, they will look to focus our support in a few key areas including empowering STEM leadership in young women, amplifying female inventors and education.
6.2.3. #DigitalGiveBack Campaign
In 2020, when schools were forced to shut their doors in response to COVID-19, educational leaders and families were challenged with making the transition to virtual learning. However, many students lacked the tools, devices and connectivity necessary to access virtual learning, putting them at risk of falling behind academically. In fact, a recent study in San Diego County showed that an estimated 22% of students did not have the equipment necessary to participate in online classes.
In response, Qualcomm jumped into action with Computers 2 Kids San Diego to host a device donation drive. Computers 2 Kids San Diego recycles and refurbishes used computers, laptops and tablets, and delivers them to local families in need. Each recipient also receives a webcam, Wi-Fi adapter, education, training and technical support.
Computers are loaded with an educational software package designed for K-12 users and their families to ensure a successful home learning environment. During the company’s two-month #DigitalGiveBack campaign, employees, customers, vendors and community partners stepped up and generously donated more than 770 computing devices, including desktops, laptops and tablets; 170 monitors or screens; and more than 4,000 pounds of other hardware to help ensure that no student was left behind. The environmental impact of the donation drive was also significant. In total, the assets that were donated equated to enough electricity to power 110 U.S. households for one year.
As part of their efforts to grow the innovation economy, they are collaborating with organizations like VentureWell to create a pipeline of diverse inventors and patent holders. VentureWell is a 25-year-old nonprofit organization that helps cultivate the entrepreneurial skills and creativity of university students who are passionate about solving the world’s biggest challenges.
In 2021, Qualcomm supported the VentureWell E-Team programme, which supports diverse student teams from across the nation who are aiming to bring their innovations out of the lab and into the market. This three-stage programme provides training to E-Team participants that explores essential topics such as business model development and validation, customer discovery and intellectual property. Throughout the programme, students learn what it takes to launch and scale a venture from VentureWell’s experienced programme team. Additionally, students have access to expert mentors, like Qualcomm employees, guest speakers and thought leaders in social impact entrepreneurship and technology innovation.
With Qualcomm’s support of the E-Team programme, VentureWell was able to train 190 diverse early stage innovators from across the U.S. During this time, we also collaborated on efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. For example, the VentureWell team updated program pre-work to establish individual and team values, and enhanced focus on individual reflection to create safe and more inclusive virtual spaces. They also participated in a community discussion focused on addressing underrepresentation of diverse innovators in the patent system. As they move into 2022, they look forward to expanding their collaboration to focus on supporting individuals from underrepresented groups, identifying and deepening strategies to advance equity and inclusion within the programme, and collaborating on efforts that highlight the importance of alleviating barriers and broadening access to innovation.
6.2.5. Shanghai Youren Foundation
Qualcomm continues to collaborate with the Xiaomi Corporation and the Shanghai Youren Foundation on an initiative supporting equal access to job opportunities for people with disabilities. Under this programme, participants receive training in AI data tagging and are re-skilled for higher paying jobs.
To equip programme participants with the necessary skills, Qualcomm supported highly specialized training and data tagging system optimization for the Shanghai Youren Foundation. After participants receive training, Xiaomi hires participants to perform AI data tagging for some of their products. By 2021, 42 participants joined the programme and are now trained with relevant technical job skills that will empower them for years to come.
Qualcomm engages with local community leaders and organizations through our corporate citizenship programmes to focus on areas where they can have the greatest impact. In 2021, the company supported more than 1,600 nonprofits through employee-driven grant programmes – matching grants, community service grants and board service grants. And through the employee-directed local giving committees, which are in more than 25 locations globally, employees get a voice in determining how our philanthropic funds are distributed in their communities.
Disclaimer: This report contains extracts from the Qualcomm Corporate Responsibility Report 2021