Nick Clegg Opens Social Enterprise Accelerator Wayra UnLtd

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Nick Clegg Liberal Democrats from World Economic Forum via Wikipedia

Telefonica launches another start-up accelerator, but will it see any massive successes in London any time soon?

It’s been two years since Telefonica launched its start-up accelerator programme Wayra, which now has a sister operation launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg today aimed at promoting technology that makes a positive change to society.

There have been no acquisitions to speak of from Wayra, but participating companies across 12 global cities have secured financing in other ways. It is confident its latest project, Wayra UnLtd, could inspire more exits and Clegg said he had seen some “amazing examples”, during his brief UnLtd visit, of young people turning great ideas into companies promoting social change.

logos-wayra-4-rgb1 (Small)Responding to a question from the audience, Clegg also said he had seen a number of inspirational women in the accelerator, which has backed 10 companies, who could be role models to get girls into technology.

Wayra: London start-ups further

Gonzalo Martin-Villa, CEO of Wayra, told TechWeekEurope he was confident the London project would see some big success stories, claiming the scene in the capital was the “most energetic” across all of Wayra’s bases.

“This economy is one of the most important places for us,” Martin-Villa added. He said the Wayra UnLtd companies, which should provide a social benefit and aim for profitability, would receive support for the next eight months, before a big demo day will attempt to stir up interest. Then a fresh batch of start-ups will be brought in.

Wayra itself gets between seven and ten percent equity during any later investment rounds.

TechWeekEurope took a trip around the Wayra UnLtd space, which is situated below the main Wayra area in central London. One organisation getting plenty of interest was DNAdigest, which aims to provide a secure way to query genome data, as it wants to encourage greater use of such information, which it claims is currently “embarrassingly limited”.

There was also Know Maths, providing online tutorials for those struggling with the subject, and Discoverables, which wants to be seen as a livelier version of LinkedIn for young people with its “gameful platform” that provides more insight into personal strengths and soft skills.

SkinAnalytics, meanwhile, wants to enable early diagnosis of melanomas, using patent pending technology to detect small changes in the geometrical structure and colour composition of moles.

The government is backing Wayra UnLtd with £1.2 million, which Telefonica has matched. The project came about as a collaboration with social enterprise network UnLtd.

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