Wayra partnership develops technology ventures

The University is entering into a partnership that will support new companies working in artificial intelligence and blockchain.

Wayra, Telefónica’s open innovation platform, and the University are launching an accelerator programme that will welcome 20 start-ups a year.

Beginning in September, the partnership is expected to create almost 400 jobs.

The £1.6m agreement represents Wayra’s first venture in Scotland.

It was announced today as part of an event for London Tech Week, hosted by Prime Minister Theresa May at Downing Street.

Support for growth

The joint programme, supported by Scottish Enterprise, will provide spin-out and start-up companies with the ability to scale, through direct access to Telefónica in the UK and beyond.

The University has a proven track record in creating high value tech-based business.

Its Informatics Ventures programme, which launched in 2008, is behind Engage Invest Exploit (EIE), an annual technology investor showcase that connects 60 Scottish tech firms with potential investors, partners and customers.

The recent UK Tech Nation Report revealed that 363 start-ups were incorporated in Edinburgh in 2017. Many of these new companies are focussed on artificial intelligence (AI).

Track record

In the past six years, Wayra UK has supported more than 200 British and Irish start-ups.

These have raised more than £150 million in funding and entered into almost £10 million worth of contracts with Telefónica.

Wayra UK has five existing accelerator programmes.

It currently supports around 50 companies a year with a best in class accelerator programme, providing advice and mentorship to take ideas through to investment.

In addition to this partnership with the University, Wayra UK has previously partnered with the Cabinet Office to support social entrepreneurs and currently works with DCMS and GCHQ to support cyber security start-ups.

The announcement comes ahead of finalisation of the £1.1 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, which aims to establish the region as the data capital of Europe.

As part of this, the University will work with Heriot-Watt University to help organisations benefit from data-driven innovation and increase the talent supply for the region’s booming tech sector.

There’s no doubt that AI and blockchain will change the way that we all live and work. It is, therefore, an honour to work with the world-leading University of Edinburgh, a global player in artificial intelligence and Informatics, to find and support the entrepreneurs that will define our collective future.

Gary StewartDirector of Wayra UK

Our vision is to become the leading AI and blockchain accelerator in Europe, supporting the best start-ups to scale globally, and we see this partnership as a valuable step to realising that aim. The search is on for the most innovative data-driven start-ups to join the programme in Edinburgh.

Dave RobertsonHead of College of Science and Engineering, University of Edinburgh

Related links

School of Informatics

Informatics - undergraduate study

Informatics - postgraduate study

Wayra UK

Informatics Ventures