Wayra, Telefónica’s accelerator program is continuing its march of expansion apace with a multi-million euro investment for startups in Ireland today.

Wayra, which means ‘wind’ in Quechua, a language of the central Andes, was launched last year in Latin America and Spain. It’s aim is  to nurture the best technology ideas and talent around the world and become an accelerator for the development of future ‘Silicon Valleys’ in the countries where Telefónica is present.

Ireland’s taste for tech innovation is growing. Already Newry in Northern Ireland is developing as ‘Emerald Valley‘, offering close networking and support to startups. Top European accelerators including Polaris Venture Partners’ Dogpatch Labs and Propeller, both have a base in Dublin and there’s a very healthy network of angels and venture capitalists investing millions in the future Irish tech.

Wayra’s Dublin Academy will be a place where technology entrepreneurs can submit their project ideas with a chance of being in the top ten who will receive investment of up to €50,000 ($65k) and access to a new workspace. The academy in Ireland is located in O2’s HQ in Dublin’s Docklands.

Hot house environment

Successful projects initially spend six months in the Wayra Academy, receiving help to accelerate their business, and technical and commercial support to further develop their ideas. The projects will also get access to other entrepreneurs across the growing network of Wayra Academies in Europe and Latin America.

At the end of the six months, projects are introduced to a network of venture capitalists for next stage funding, and a new batch of 10 projects enter the Academy for a further six month period.

In exchange for initial financing Telefónica takes a 10% stake in their business and also receives first refusal rights to offer products and services developed by successful projects to its 300 million global customers, though it does not require the entrepreneurs to give it exclusivity.

The latest move by Wayra fits in nicely with existing government initiatives and Tony Hanway, Chief Executive of Telefónica Ireland feels that the academy will do very well,

“Wayra will flourish in Ireland, where the strong focus on the technology sector makes it an ideal breeding ground for new start-ups. Wayra is also an excellent fit with the Irish Government’s ongoing initiatives to support the creation of sustainable high end jobs and become a leading global technology hub, and we will be delighted to link with the existing programmes, Government or otherwise, to help further the ambitions of Ireland’s technology entrepreneurs”

Wayra is aimed at early-stage technology startups and is open to entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds. The closing date for submission of ideas or projects is June 24, 2012. The first 10 successful projects, which will receive funding and enter the Wayra Academy in Dublin, will be selected during a special Wayra Week event to be held in early September.