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Wayra accelerator gets a complete makeover, will focus on ‘more mature’ startups

wayra makeover mature startups
Written by Tim Hinchliffe

With a new logo and a focus on accelerating and investing in “more mature” and agile startups, Telefonica Wayra is reinventing itself on the seventh anniversary of its launch.

wayra makeover mature startups

Gonzalo Martín-Villa

“The baby has grown older,” said Wayra Co-Founder and Telefonica CIO Gonzalo Martín Villa in Madrid yesterday, adding, “after more than seven years of work, the time has come to be more global, more technological and better.”

The new Wayra, whose logo was presented on Thursday in Madrid and, simultaneously, in different events with the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in seven other countries, will focus on acceleration and investment in more mature companies, with a clear business plan and whose activity is eminently technological and related to Telefonica’s strategic projects in fields such as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, cybersecurity or fintech.

“Our brand, Wayra, is an institutional asset that drives all areas of the business, which is our vision, and the goal is to focus on more mature startups that grow with Telefonica and make us grow,” Martín-Villa added.

The new approach comes a few months after the appointment of Miguel Arias as Telefonica’s Global Entrepreneurship Director, having previously worked as director of operations at Spanish startup Carto.

“We know that the best entrepreneurs look for business and scale, rather than just investment. That’s why we are now focusing on finding partners aligned with Telefonica’s strategy and interests,” said Arias.

Since 2011 Telefonica has invested, between Wayra and its funds, more than 160 million euros and has presence in 16 countries through its academies and their innovation hubs. More than 400 of the startups accelerated within the Open Innovation programme remain active, and, more than twenty have reached a value over 50 million dollars.

wayra makeover mature startups

Miguel Arias

“We aspire to support a cultural change in the company that reaches the whole organization and leads us to more agile and digital processes, with the objective of having, in 2020, more than 200 startups working on a scale with Telefonica, helping to grow significantly in income and become more efficient and more sustainable,” Arias added.

“We scale startups” is the tagline with which this new stage of Open Innovation starts at Telefonica, seven years after the launch of Wayra, Spain’s first major corporate accelerator. Wayra was born with the aim of helping to “democratize” entrepreneurship by providing financial support and development to the innovative ideas that emerged in any of the countries in the footprint of Telefonica.

Three years later, in 2014, Telefónica Open Future was born, a global open innovation project that opened up to third parties – public and private institutions – the collaboration to push entrepreneurial projects. Currently there are more than 50 Open Future hubs around the world, mostly created jointly with strategic local partners.

“The global infrastructure of Wayra, our experience with developers and startups and the roots we have achieved in these years in the innovative ecosystem of 16 countries are unbeatable,” concluded Gonzalo Martín-Villa.

What will the new Wayra look like?

The future of Wayra’s activities may be evidenced in Wayra UK’s latest partnership with British spy agency GCHQ, to launch an accelerator in the Greater Manchester Area.

“We switch gears in our new GCHQ accelerator programme, geared towards start-ups developing innovative products and software in engineering,” Wayra UK tweeted.

Last week the GCHQ was found to have violated human rights just three days after announcing an open call for startups to join its accelerator in the Greater Manchester area in 2019, The Sociable reported last week.

In partnership with Wayra, the GCHQ Engineering Accelerator program is looking for ingenious ideas from startups in the following areas of technology:

  • Machine Learning, where it is keen to increase the use of machine learning to categorise and interpret large amounts of information, which is at the core of what drives its mission
  • Policy and Process Automation, where it is interested in technologies that can help with the processes it has to ensure its compliance with its legal and policy frameworks
  • Visualisation of Data Engineering, where it is looking for flexible, efficient and scalable solutions providing visualisation of multi-dimensional datasets
  • Software-Defined Everything that can provide smart solutions to manage and control infrastructure, storage and networks through software
  • Modelling the Science of Analysis, looking at solutions that can model the behaviours behind human decision making, capture the underlying assumptions, and recommend resulting actions
wayra makeover mature startups

Jeremy Fleming

“I am really excited about our partnership with Wayra and our new Accelerator in Manchester,” said GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming.

“It gives us a chance to tap into that talent and use it to help us with some of our hardest problems. It puts Manchester right at the heart of our mission to keep the UK and our digital homeland safe and secure,” he added.

The GCHQ is plowing forward with its new base and acceleration program in Manchester, which, ironically, is partially aimed at “technologies that can help with the processes we have to ensure our compliance with our legal and policy frameworks,” according to the GCHQ open call.

About the author

Tim Hinchliffe

Tim Hinchliffe the editor in chief at Novobrief. Previously, he was a reporter for The Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America. Principal at Espacio.