Telefonica launches Wayra in Ireland
Multi-million euro technology accelerator programme opens for start-ups
TechTrade | 10 May 2012 :
O2's parent Telefonica has announced the launch in Ireland of its global technology accelerator programme, Wayra, marking a multi-million Euro investment by Telefónica in Irish-based start-ups.
Wayra, which means ‘wind' in Quechua, a language of the central Andes, is part of Telefonica's new global Digital unit and is set to become the world's largest technology accelerator programme. Launched last year in Latin America and Spain, Wayra has been created to find and nurture the best technology ideas and talent around the world, aiming to become an accelerator for the development of future ‘Silicon Valleys' in the countries where Telefónica is present.
Ireland becomes the 10th country in which Wayra has launched and the Dublin Academy will be the 11th in the world. Wayra has to date received over 9,000 submissions and provided financing to 100 startups around the world.
Budding technology entrepreneurs in Ireland can submit their project ideas at www.wayra.org/en/ireland with the 10 best ideas each receiving an investment of up to €50,000 and access to a state-of-the-art workspace in O2's Dublin docklands headquarters.
Successful projects initially spend six months receiving technical and commercial support to further develop their ideas. 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 Telefonica 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.
Wayra is aimed at early stage technology start-ups and is open to entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds. 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.
Commenting at the launch of Wayra in Ireland, An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny said: "I very much welcome this investment by Telefónica and Wayra in Ireland. Wayra's decision is a significant vote of confidence in Ireland and reflects our strong reputation on the international stage. The Wayra initiative, like the Government's Action Plan on Jobs, places innovative businesses right at the heart of the drive to accelerate jobs growth and economic prosperity"
Gonzalo Martin-Villa, global director for Wayra, said: "Launching in Ireland is a significant milestone for Wayra. Ireland has one of the most developed entrepreneurial eco-systems in Europe and is at the forefront of many technology trends. Our growing international network of entrepreneurs, spanning ten countries and two continents, will benefit from Ireland being part of this, and we believe that Irish entrepreneurs will also benefit from being part of this global community."
The closing date for submission of ideas or projects is 24 June.