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Agilent Launches Venture Unit, May Invest up to $100 Million a Year

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Agilent Technologies (A) formed a separate unit dedicated to investing in technology start-up companies, in a bid to gain an edge in optical and wireless communications, as well as the life sciences.

Agilent also said the new unit, which will focus on "earlier-stage" companies, plans to invest up to $100 million a year. The chosen companies will each receive investments of $2 million to $10 million from

Agilent Ventures

.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company named Maximilian Schroeck as the managing director of Agilent Ventures. Before joining Agilent, Schroeck, 37, was the vice president of

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A.T. Kearney's

high-tech operations and helped lead its North American corporate venturing activities.

Shares of Agilent recently rose 27 cents, or 0.5%, to $52.47 on the

New York Stock Exchange

.