O2-backed Wayra expands start-up accelerator programmes

James Pearce
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Wayra UK, backed by Telefonica, will run new acceleration programmes in smart transport, anti-poverty, and cyber security

Telefonica-backed technology accelerator Wayra UK is set to expand into new sectors and industries in order to help more UK start-ups grow.

Wayra, which was launched five years ago, will run acceleration programmes across the UK in new fields including smart transport, expand its hand in fields like cyber security, while it will also back businesses looking to tackle social issues such as fuel poverty or financial hardship.

The new programmes it has announced include a new Intelligent Mobility Accelerator, based in Milton Keynes, supporting transport solutions; the Wayra Fair By Design programme, based in Oldham, which will support businesses looking to tackle poverty issues; and increased support for its GCHQ Cyber Accelerator.

Mark Evans, CEO, O2 said: “Britain’s small business and start-up economy is thriving and mobile is at its heart - you can now start a business in minutes using the power of mobile. As a business whose success has been built on a mobile-first strategy, we know the benefits mobile connectivity can deliver for the UK and at O2 we have already benefited hugely from the innovative thinking and great business ideas that Wayra UK has connected us to.”

Alongside O2 UK, Wayra is backed by a number of major companies including MSD, ASOS, and GCHQ. It has helped more than 160 startups raise over $150 million in fudning since it was founded in 2012.

Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK, said: “These new programmes, which have secured the backing of key partners, 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.”