Wayra Accelerator – £50k Investment to Tech Start-ups
Digital and technology-based start-ups are being invited to apply for up to £50,000 of investment funding under a new initiative from Telefónica, the owner of O2.
Through its Wayra accelerator programme, the company hopes to invest in 20 UK start-ups in 2012, in fields ranging from cloud computing and mobile apps to network systems and financial services.
In return for the investment, Telefónica will take 10% equity and provide up to a year of mentoring, access to technology and networking at a new academy in London.
Telefónica is also planning to fund an enterprise education programme for up to 30,000 students and young people in the UK over the next three years.
“There’s amazing entrepreneurial spirit in the British small-business community, and we want to help them succeed,”
said Ronan Dunne, UK chief executive of O2.
“What we can provide them is a place and time to bring that commitment and passion for an idea to life, together with our business experience, network and technical support.”
Telefónica’s Wayra programme was launched in Latin America in April 2012 in response to the lack of support for tech start-ups in the region. Since then it has invested in 80 start-ups in eight different Latin American and European countries, with the London academy being the tenth to open.
Start-ups and early stage businesses interested in applying for the funding need to submit a project proposal by 22 April via the Wayra website. Shortlisted firms will be invited to pitch to a panel of Wayra, Telefónica/O2 and independent venture capitalist and technology experts during ‘Wayra Week’ in May.
Successful applicants will spend six months in the Wayra Academy, receiving help to accelerate their business. They will then either be introduced to venture capitalists for next stage funding or stay another six months in the Academy. In exchange for initial financing, Telefónica has the right of first refusal on products, but it does not require the entrepreneurs to give it exclusivity.
“We have proven that the model works and we now want to create a global entrepreneurship network, with Europe being a fundamental part of this network,”
said Gonzalo Martín-Villa, global director for Wayra.
“If you are selected to be in the London academy you are entering much more than that; you are becoming part of the Wayra global network.”