Telefónica’s Wayra academy in Dublin has received a massive response from startups to its accelerator programme for digital startups and has sorted through 335 entries to select a shortlist of 18. Up to 10 projects will be selected to receive an investment of €50,000 each.
During Wayra Week (4-6 September), the entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to an independent panel of judges comprising representatives from Wayra, Telefónica and O2, independent venture capitalists and technology experts – with 10 ideas ultimately being successful.
Each of the 10 best projects will receive an investment of up to €50,000 and access to a new state-of-the-art workspace – the Wayra Academy – in O2’s headquarters in Dublin’s Docklands. 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.
At the end of the six months, projects are introduced to a network of investors 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 up to a 10pc stake in their business and also receives first refusal rights to offer products and services developed by successful projects to its 300m global customers, though it does not require the entrepreneurs to give it exclusivity.
Aimed at early stage technology start-ups in particular, Wayra is a global initiative by O2 parent company Telefonica focused on seeking ideas and projects in the fields of cloud services, financial services, future communications, user modelling, M2M, security, e-health, e-learning, mobile applications and games, network/systems, consumer internet services, e-commerce, location-based services, social innovation or in any other digital field associated with mobile software or the web environment.
The judging panel consists of: Rick Kelley (director of EMEA Sales – Facebook); Orla Rimmington (operations director – Kernel Capital); Paul Rellis (managing director – Microsoft Ireland); Pat Phelan (founder – Cubic Telecom); Conor Stanley (partner – Bloom Equity), Marcelo Ballona (US-based entrepreneur and investor); Barry O’Neill (chairman and CEO of StoryToys, chairman of Games Ireland); and Eugene Mitchell (marketing and innovation director – Telefónica Ireland).
“We are looking for great new businesses with global potential,” Wayra Dublin academy director Karl Aherne explained.
“Wayra is able to fast track these start-ups and give them access to Telefónica’s global market. The record number of 335 submissions shows the level of innovation and entrepreneurship that exists in Ireland. This is going to drive employment and growth.”
Below: the 18 companies that have made the cut so far