London Mayor Boris Johnson today (Friday) opened the 10th Wayra Academy – Telefónica's accelerator programme – established in London to help nurture budding digital talent.
The Mayor joined senior figures from O2 parent company Telefónica to congratulate 16 of the UK’s most talented digital entrepreneurs for securing a place at the state-of-the-art academy.
The budding success stories included Pollarize.me, a polling application that lets people survey their friends, and Epicurely, a social network for people who love food.
All the start-ups have taken ICT and translated it into a range of new ideas, across different industries. At Wayra UK they will be given support to nurture their ideas and talent through the provision of financing, technology and mentorship.
Speaking at the opening of the Wayra Academy, the Mayor highlighted his ambitions for the tech sector and his support for young entrepreneurs. He also stressed the positive role that such accelerators can play in developing the future digital economy and driving economic growth and recovery in the UK.
Johnson said: 'The Wayra Academy is a fantastic initiative that will harness precisely the kind of creativity and entrepreneurship we need to create jobs and drive economic growth. Home to some of the finest minds in innovation and design, London’s digital sector has huge potential to create jobs for Londoners and grow the capital's economy.
'This is why we must do everything we can to help people who want to start their own businesses turn their ideas into reality. I wish all those who come through the Academy’s doors the very best of luck as they nurture their ideas into fully fledged companies with the potential to offer vital employment opportunities for Londoners and a huge boost to our economy.'
Also at the event, O2 CEO Ronan Dunne reiterated Telefónica/O2’s ambition to boost entrepreneurial spirit in Europe both by opening more Wayra academies over the next 12 months and by launching Campus Party in Berlin. He said: 'Growth in Europe is predicated on nurturing the skills and talent of future generations. As a digital services business, our success depends on identifying and backing great ideas and unleashing the positive potential of young people and technology.'