London – Today saw Nick Clegg officially open Wayra UnLtd, the Government and Telefónica-backed London Academy which supports social venture start-ups. The Deputy Prime Minister joined 100 young people, brought together by GoThinkBig.co.uk, plus entrepreneurs, social venture leaders, NGOs and investors, to celebrate the opening of Wayra UnLtd – the UK’s first accelerator facility for digital technology social ventures.
The groundbreaking partnership between UnLtd and Wayra – two of the largest supporters of social ventures and tech start-ups in the UK – was awarded with more than £1 million of government funding earlier this year to supplement Telefónica’s own investment, plus infrastructure and technical expertise.
The Academy has selected ten commercial digital start-up businesses, each with the clearly defined objective of using technology to solve social problems and deliver social benefits. These include MySupportAssistant, which matches people with care and support needs with those who can provide it, and Karisma Kidz which aims to improve children’s emotional intelligence in a fun and engaging way.
The Deputy Prime Minister said: “In the UK we are seeing a surge of entrepreneurship and enterprise, with younger people often leading the way and seizing the opportunities offered by digital technology. It is fantastic that Telefónica is backing their talents and abilities through initiatives such as Wayra UnLtd – offering support to those who need it and helping them grow their businesses and social ventures.”
The chosen businesses will spend up to eight months in Wayra UnLtd’s state of the art offices located in central London, on the floor below the original Wayra Academy and its 17 start-ups. The businesses will also benefit from seed-funding of up to £40,000 and will receive world class coaching and mentoring from experts inside and also outside of Telefónica. In addition to this, the businesses have fast-track access to a global network of 13 existing Wayra Academies and the talent within them, as well as influential decision makers in the public, private and third sectors and second round investors.
Ronan Dunne, Telefónica UK CEO said: “We’re delighted that the Government has co-funded Wayra UnLtd and very pleased that the Deputy Prime Minister is here to officially open this new facility. It is brilliant to see him speaking to 100 people, engaged through GoThinkBig, about issues that matter to them.”
To mark the launch, Clegg hosted a question and answer session with 100 young people, on the issues that matter to them including jobs, training and skills. 50 of the 16-25 year olds applied to attend the session through www.GoThinkBig.co.uk – the social action partnership founded by O2 and Bauer Media, which aims to improve the employability of Britain’s young people, through structured work experience and skills opportunities.
The other half of the young people were brought in through O2 Think Big, the company’s flagship programme which gives young people funding to run their own social action projects in communities across the UK, helping to build a more entrepreneurial mindset.
Wayra Unltd offers an exciting pathway for digital talent to grow, disrupting and transforming the social venture sector and exploiting the possibilities of new technology to address key social issues. UnLtd are experts in social venturing, meaning that finding appropriate social ventures has been possible; and together Wayra Unltd is able to help accelerate social ventures; and measure social impact.
Cliff Prior, CEO of UnLtd, the UK’s leading supporter of social entrepreneurs, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Wayra, the world’s biggest and best tech incubator network, to give these innovative social entrepreneurs the incubation and market connections they need to make a significant social impact. Combining digital technology with entrepreneurial talent through this special partnership will help to address some of the pressing social issues our country faces today. The Government is fully behind our initiative so what better way to officially open the Wayra UnLtd Academy than with a visit from the Deputy Prime Minister.”