Telefonica and Orange launch new start-up accelerator forum

Initiatives will see corporations and start-ups work together to boost innovation

Leading European telecoms company Telefonica ha sannounced the launch of two major accelerator initiatives, aimed at narrowing the ‘cultural divide’ between universities, start-ups and multinational corporations.

Announced at a press conference in the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, the company announced it will be spearheading two separate projects in partnership with Spanish banking group BBVA and multi-national telecoms company Orange.

The European Digital Forum will be a digital economy think-tank led by the Lisbon Council, set to drive joint projects in ‘key areas of digital innovation’ to boost the European tech sector as a whole.

The Forum will allow corporations, start-ups and ‘relevant players’ in the digital economy to discuss issues affecting the future of the digital economy in Europe.

The second initiative, the Start-Up Europe Partnership, will be delivered jointly by European tech incubator Mind the Bridge and innovation charity Nesta.

It will be an extension of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative, which has been designed to build a Europe-wide network of entrepreneurs and innovators as part of plans defined in the Commission’s ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan’.

The StartUp Europe Partnership will focus on networking between start-ups, universities and larger corporations as part of this process.

Telefonica is best known in the start-up space as the creator of the tech start-up incubator Wayra, known as one of the leading programmes of its kind in Europe.

Speaking at the launch of the programmes at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Telefonica COO José María Álvarez-Pallete said: “Boosting Europe’s digital competitiveness needs policies that spur investment and kickstart growth, but at the same time we need to encourage and support innovation-driven entrepreneurship.

“Key to this will be to narrow the gap between start-ups and multinational corporations.

“Our vision is that European corporations – big and small – can work together with Universities to transform society and the economy in all areas of digital innovation to achieve growth in digital skills and entrepreneurship in a sustainable way.

“These two initiatives will play a major role in helping this important evolution.”

Vice-president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes, in endorsing the initiatives, said: “Europe needs thriving startups and global internet companies to become a global growth centre again.

“Politicians don’t create jobs, entrepreneurs do.  We’re going to support that mindset and push European start-ups beyond their comfort zone. And then we’re going to get out of the way.  Sometimes the best thing a political leader can do is get out of the way.”

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