Telefónica accelerator Wayra UK expands offering to help start-ups “thrive”

Digital accelerator will now support solutions for transport and social issues. Cyber security start-ups will also benefit from renewed GCHQ partnership

Wayra UK, the accelerator programme backed by Telefónica UK (O2), has unveiled fresh plans to support the country’s digital start-ups with the aim of creating a “truly mobile Britain”.

Starting this quarter, the London-based accelerator will add regional programmes to its offering to help entrepreneurs developing businesses in transport technology with its new Intelligent Mobility Accelerator in Milton Keynes.

Supported by Network Rail, O2 Smart Steps and consultancy firm Thoughtworks Ventures, this transport arm will help up to 12 start-ups a year to leverage the £900bn transport market.

Another new addition is the Wayra Fair By Design programme, based in Oldham, which will support up to seven tech start-ups a year who are focused on doing social good such as helping those in financial hardship of reducing the poverty premium.

Cyber security start-ups will also get an additional boost. Wayra has announced the continuation of its partnership with the GCHQ Cyber Accelerator; enabling Wayra to offer a longer nine-month tenure and increased financial support to cyber security businesses entering the programme.

Established in 2012, Wayra UK has facilitated over 160 start-ups and has helped them to raise over $150m in funding. It claims its programme has resulted in these companies being valued at $430m, with 800 jobs created so far.

Successful Wayra alumni include Startups Awards 2017 finalist Yoyo Wallet, the business focused on mobile payments and customer engagement, and Startups 100 winner WeFarm; the two year old start-up which helps over 300,000 farmers globally to improve their ways of working.

Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK, said: “These new programmes show that Wayra UK is reaching a new level in supporting UK start-ups.

“Our support goes beyond just funding, we’re also giving them access to the scale and expertise of Telefonica, including access to coaches and mentors. In return, we benefit from innovations that help boost the economy through profits, job creation and creating cost savings, as well as providing valuable data and insights.”