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O2/Telefonica Wayra UK Launch Liveblog

Mobile & TelcoNews
by Desire Athow
, 07 Mar 2012News

ITProPortal.com is at an O2/Telefonica event where the Spanish telecom giant is expected to announce the UK launch of Wayra, its home-brewed business incubator for technology startups.

Wayra, which means Wind in Quechua, a native South American language spoken primarily in the Andes, is an initiative from Telefonica which initially started in Latin America as a way to encourage local entrepreneurs to come up with the next big thing in technology.

José María Álvarez-Pallete, Chairman and CEO, Telefónica Europe, Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive, CEO, Telefónica UK and Simon Devonshire, Director Wayra Europe, Telefónica will be telling us more about how Wayra could help pave the way for a new generation of Telefonica-backed startups.

14:19 - 07 March

The event has now ended. Telefonica appears to be extremely enthused about the whole Wayra/Amerigo project. They may bring onboard other VC partners and entities down the road depending on how Wayra is perceived in the open market. It would be intereting to see how (a) other venture capitalists like Accel perceive Wayra (co-opetitor) and whether (b) other rivals like Vodafone or Everything Everywhere decide to embrace that concept and create their own little Wayras. That's all for me now. Back to the office where another huge event awaits us.

14:10 - 07 March

Wayra is relatively inexpensive for a company like Telefonica. It is more a matter of willingness and want to do so.

14:09 - 07 March

CEO says that he dreams that one Wayra graduates will feature on the cover of a magazine a la Steve Jobs by this time next year. Wayra is financed entirely by Telefonica.

50 to 75K euros for 10 per cent stake in companies. Amerigo could be the next stage as a venture capital entity, fostering the most successful startups.

Tricky question with regards to Silicon Roundabout and the general location. Olympics did play a huge role in the choice of location as well.

13:48 - 07 March

Quality of mentors is a critical issue says someone from WSJ. Wayra has managed to secure the best mentors they could find. VCs, former entrepreneurs and people from Telefonica.

13:46 - 07 March

Q&A starts. Wayra Project obssessed with young people says journo... What about old geezers then?

13:43 - 07 March

Wayra officially coming to UK on 7th of March 2012. Apply at www.wayra.org/en/wayra-uk-call-2012. 20 projects will be hosted rather than 10. Similar academies will be opened in Europe by the end of the month. Call for projects will be closed on the 22nd of April.

13:40 - 07 March

Wayra is the second/third largest accelerator on earth. Of startups that is, not of particles.

13:40 - 07 March

9 Wayra academies have been built in 10 months in 6 countries with a few thousands applications. The Wayra UK academy will be based where we are currently located, I guess.

13:39 - 07 March

Wayra also reminds us of X-factor or Pop Idol. A funnel approach to the problem solving of selecting talent globally rapidly and cost-effectively.

13:36 - 07 March

Wayra reminds us loosely of Orange's Different Business competition that's currently running. Except that Orange's one caters only for one company at a time.

13:33 - 07 March

Now down to Wayra. Video up. Basically an O2-backed accelerator/incubator.

13:31 - 07 March

Campus Party is coming to Europe for 10K young technologists. This will happen a week in Berlin at the end of August with more than 1000 hours of seminars, hack-a-thons and open innovation.

13:30 - 07 March

Telefonica's "Think Big" ressembles Apple's "Think Different" advertising slogan. Wikipedia mentions that Think Big is also "an interventionist state economic strategy" popular in New Zealand in the 1980's which saw "government borrow[ing] heavily overseas, running up a large external deficit"

13:27 - 07 March

Really impressive stuff if it is properly executed. Telefonica's own version of the Marshall Plan for tech startups in Europe

13:27 - 07 March

Learning, Talentum, Wayra, Amerigo; Telefonica's integrated program. Talentum (Startups, Universities and Graduates) to fill up 5000 roles by 2015, all within Telefonica. 

13:24 - 07 March

Telefonica to introduce Think Big open programme, which promotes youth entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. A huge social experiment which could change the DNA of startups in Europe.

13:23 - 07 March

Things, Álvarez-Pallete, are chaging faster and faster. Nice "in 60 seconds" slide. 710 computers sold, 555 of them with Intel inside, but 925 iPhone 4S sold and 81 Apple iPad tablets over the same time period.

13:21 - 07 March

Telefonica has identified an Entrepreneurial deficit with the most talented people likely to emigrate to the US or elsewhere.

13:19 - 07 March

José María Álvarez-Pallete takes the floor. Gloomy "Europe : A Lost Decade" slide comes up.

Talks about a lost generation, youth unemployment and lost innovation.

13:11 - 07 March

Very busy and noisy press area; almost all seats have been taken. The lectern is set up, the stage is ready to welcome its first speaker.

12:59 - 07 March

Welcome everyone to this special liveblog for an event  hosted by O2/Telefonica for the launch of Wayra, the company's startup accelerator which is an intriguing and interesting take on how mobile phone operators plan to diversify their businesses.

For some background details on Wayra, check this blog post from Wayra's head, Gonzallo Martin-Villa. The event is scheduled to start imminently.

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