Telefónica refreshes startup program to focus on more mature companies

Telefónica is retooling its startup accelerator program with more of a focus on companies that have mature business models that dovetail with the telco's own roadmap. 

Telefónica launched its Wayra startup accelerator program back in 2011, but in today's announcement it said it was reinventing it to focus more on areas such as big data, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, cybersecurity, and financial technologies.

Following the inception of Wayra, Telefónica said it had invested in more than $188 million across 16 countries through its academies and innovation hubs. To date, more than 400 of the companies that were booted up in within Wayra's Open Innovation program are still active, with more than 20 reaching a value of over $50 million.

More than 100 of the startups in the innovation hubs still work with Telefónica across different projects, and the goal of the refreshed Wayra is to have 200 in place over the next two years.

Telefónica has provided the startups with technology resources, industry contacts and guidance through Wayra, but now it wants to put a bigger focus on more mature startups, according to Telefónica's chief innovation officer Gonzalo Martín-Villa, who was also a cofounder of Wayra.

"We are the most global Open Innovation, connected and technological hub and now we need to focus on more mature startups that make us grow and that grow within Telefónica," he said in a prepared statement.

Cisco's LaunchPad program also provides an ecosystem for startup companies, and Cisco has been known to purchase some of the more successful ones from its program.

Related: AT&T: 5G and edge compute are a match made for AR, VR gaming

Along the same lines, AT&T's Foundry program was designed to spur innovation and foster collaboration by bringing together leading innovators with cutting-edge technologies. AT&T has six Foundry locations, with each focusing on specific areas of technology such as 5G and edge compute at its Palo Alto, Calif. location and industrial IoT and data analytics in its Plano, Texas, Foundry.