Light Reading

Wayra Czechs In to Central Europe

Ray Le Maistre

10:15 AM -- With 12 startup incubators in 11 Latin American and Western European markets, Wayra, the part of Telefónica Digital that's responsible for creating mini Silicon Valley-type innovation hot-houses in Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF)'s operating territories, is now heading east.

Wayra is setting up an office space, or "academy," for digital startups in the Czech Republic, where Telefónica Europe plc (O2) offers fixed and mobile services, and is open for applications from fledgling companies as of today. Companies or individuals looking for some seed funding, office space, communications services and advice and mentoring from the Wayra team, have until Jan. 21, 2013, to apply.

In addition, Wayra is also seeking new applications for its existing academies in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Sao Paulo in Latin America and Barcelona, Dublin, London, Madrid and Munich in Europe. For more details, see this blog.

I was lucky enough to visit the London Wayra academy in September and it's an exciting environment with a real buzz and sense of urgency. (See Inside Telefonica's Startup Incubator and Telefónica: A New Breed of Telco.)

The Wayra operation is managed by a team with infectious enthusiasm for the digital startup culture, so it'll be interesting to see what kind of innovators end up in the Czech academy, which is expecting to host startups not just from the host country but also from neighboring and nearby Central and Eastern European countries (such as Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia and others). (See Why Gonzalo Martin-Villa Is Kissing Frogs.)

And Telefónica Digital has other investment vehicles for digital startups too. (See Seeking the New Silicon Valley.)

Whatever you might think of the Spanish giant's plans to reinvent itself as a Web-savvy, applications-led services and information firm, its commitment to putting its money where its mouth is has got to be admired.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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