Telefónica is providing a start-up sum of €50,000 to up to 20 new businesses as part of a new scheme to support entrepreneurs.
The operator has launched the UK version of its Wayra initiative, which was set up in South America and Spain last year to support digital businesses. Entrepreneurs can apply for funding and the successful business will spend six months in a central London academy, receiving help and support to build their businesses. Telefónica will take a 10% stake in return for the investment, which gives them right of first refusal on products but not exclusivity. The operator said it will invest a multimillion-pound sum in the scheme during the next three years.
Simon Devonshire, director of Wayra in Europe said: 'London is a global centre of innovation and through Wayra we hope to find the Facebooks and Zyngas of the future.'
O2 UK CEO Ronan Dunne [pictured] said: 'We have thousands of small business customers in the UK and we know that they are the formidable engine of the British economy with 80% of people in the UK working for a business of between 10 and 50 people. There’s amazing entrepreneurial spirit in the British small business community, and we want to help them succeed. What we can provide them is a place and time to bring that commitment and passion for an idea to life, together with our business experience, network and technical support.'
The initiative is part of Telefónica's wider Think Big scheme, which aims to back young people's ideas for community projects and invest in work-based education.
Editor: Graeme Neill