After first launching across Latin America, last month we reported that Telefónica‘s startup accelerator Wayra was arriving in Europe with the Spanish telecommunications company launching its Academy in Madrid. And now it’s London’s turn.
Telefónica has pledged “funding in excess of €1m”, as it officially announced the launch of its initiative to support UK startups today.
Telefónica is the Spain-based parent company of O2, and from today UK entrepreneurs working in the technology space can submit their projects, with the best receiving up to €50,000 and access to a new state-of-the-art workspace in London’s Tottenham Court Road. The launch of Wayra marks a multi million pound investment by Telefónica in UK-based startups over the next three years.
Wayra is aimed at early stage technology startups and is open to entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds. In addition to financing, up to 20 projects selected during a Wayra Week in May will also receive mentoring, access to technology expertise within Telefónica and O2 and use of the London Wayra Academy which will officially open in May.
“London is a global centre of innovation and through Wayra we hope to find the Facebooks and Zyngas of the future,” said Simon Devonshire, Director of Wayra in Europe. “We believe Wayra is unique in not only providing entrepreneurs with access to a ready-made network of like-minded people across Europe and Latin America, but also in acting as a gateway to Telefónica’s 300 million customers worldwide.”
From today until April 22, you can submit your ideas, with Wayra, Telefónica and O2 evaluating working to create a shortlist of candidates who will be invited to take part in the Wayra Week. During Wayra Week the entrepreneurs will be invited to pitch their ideas to a panel comprising representatives of Wayra, Telefónica/O2 and independent VCs. Up to 20 of the best projects will be invited to move into the new London Wayra Academy, and will receive an investment of up to €50,000 in exchange for around 10% stake in their business.
The UK becomes Wayra’s ninth country, and the London Academy is its tenth overall. We’ve covered the initiative in depth over the past year, covering the likes of Brazil, Peru and even a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).