Telefónica’s Wayra partners with Chinese incubator

European and LatAm operator group Telefónica’s start up incubator Wayra has struck an agreement with Chinese incubator Virtue Inno Valley (VIV) to promote their businesses in each other’s geographic territories.

The two incubators said that the agreement will enable them to promote and share entrepreneurial expertise, mentoring programs, training, institutional relationships, media, financial and commercial resources as well as investment opportunities.

“The Wayra Global Alliance is born with the vision to create a great international network of innovation detection and reduce the gap of investment and commercial opportunities between geographical regions through technology,” said Gonzalo Martin-Villa, CEO of Wayra.

He added that the VIV agreement allows Wayra to extend its footprint into China, the largest technology, media and telecoms market in the world, which currently has over 800 million mobile internet users.

“In the past years, we have consolidated operations in Europe and Latin America, and extending the Wayra network to Asia is a great step for us to create something remarkable in the start-up industry,” he added.

Li Zhu, executive director of Virtue Inno Valley,  added that the agreement will give VIV immediate access to the Wayra network which already has 14 Wayra Academies around the globe.

“Selected Chinese TMT (technology, media and telecoms) start-ups accelerated by Virtue Inno Valley will have the opportunity to go international through the Wayra global network, including extensive international mentor, partnership and investor resources,” he said. “Successful products developed by Chinese start-ups will also have the opportunity to get access to more than 320 million customers of Telefónica in 24 countries worldwide.”

Last month, European operator groups Telefónica and Orange threw their weight behind a project led by the European Commission to help the region’s technology startups to grow into global internet firms. The EC said it plans to “take on Silicon Valley” with the launch of two initiatives; an acceleration programme called the Startup Europe Partnership and a think tank called the European Digital Forum.

Earlier in January, Telefónica announced its first investment in a start-up since launching Wayra. The recipient of the six figure sum was Taskhub, an online marketplace for tasks and small jobs.

Wayra is Telefónica’s initiative to promote innovation and seek out talent in Latin America and Europe in the telecoms and ICT. VIV is backed by Tsinghua University in China and was jointly founded by Tsinghua Holdings Technology & Innovation (THTI) and the Tsinghua Alumni Association of TMT.

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