Incubators aren’t a new thing, but the recent announcement that Telefonica is to open a Telecom incubator in London, and later in other places in Europe, follows a trend showing spike of activity in this domain.
Telefónica’s Wayra incubator is to roll out across Europe this year in an ambitious program that will see academies in London, Ireland, Germany and the Czech Republic. The Spanish Telco pledged “funding in excess of €1 million”, as it officially announced the launch of its initiative to support U.K. startups today.
The London academy, to be housed in Tottenham Court Road in London’s West End near the London University College, will house some 20 start ups for up to six months.
The idea, an extension of a program started in South America, is simple: Anyone with a technology idea can submit it for consideration until April 22. A judging panel comprising Telefonica , bona fide UK entrepreneurs and business leaders will select 20 inspiring ideas install them in the newly created academy and grant them between €50,000 – €70,000 in return for a 10% stake. High-growth companies can then go on to a second-stage academy called Talentum, where venture capitalists will be brought into play. Successful companies will be allowed to market to Telefonica’s 300 million customers worldwide.
Meanwhile, other initiatives are targeting startups in Asia: Globe Telecom, with support from its partner, Singtel of Singapore and the Ayala conglomerate are launching a program aimed at setting up the first telco incubator in the Philippines.
Earlier this year, it was announced that India’s first telecom business incubator will be set up in Kerala under Infosys co-founder and Executive Co-chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan. The Indian Telecom Innovation Hub will focus primarily on student start-ups from college campuses and would be modeled on technology incubators in the Silicon Valley.
And not later than last month, China Telecom unveiled an in-house Cloud Computing Incubation program. The operator has since contacted employees for project and team proposals. Each team will include at least three people, and will have a project term of two years, with a total of RMB 200 million (USD $17.000.000) in funding available. Teams will receive an initial investment of RMB 50,000 to 100,000. Employees opting to start new projects – which will be required to be telecommunications-related, with primary focuses on mobile internet, cloud computing, and e-commerce – will have their previous positions held for them.
Telecom Operators are looking for talent and new ideas to make sure that they will remain relevant in a world where new technologies seem to pop up every day. It is crucial for them to stay ahead and investing in such incubators should help them to keep up.