August 15th 2013 – Ten start-up businesses, each with the objective of solving social problems and providing social benefits, have been selected to join Telefónica and UnLtd’s digital social incubator, Wayra UnLtd.
A trend for social venturing inspired the launch of Wayra UnLtd in February this year, which coincided with funding from the UK Government’s Social Incubator Fund to accelerate early stage digital social ventures. The selected start-ups will be housed in the newly built, state-of-the-art academy in central London, which is located below the established sister academy, Wayra, for more traditional digital start-ups.
Twenty finalists battled it out in a two day intensive pitch process dubbed wayraWeek UnLtd. The start-ups were assessed and judged by a panel of experts from start-ups, small and large businesses, social enterprises and Government. The start-ups will each be awarded £40,000 of funding on average, bespoke mentoring and exclusive access to some of Telefónica’s best business minds, to develop and grow their venture.
Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd, said of the announcement: “There is no shortage of social entrepreneurs in the UK with the ideas to create successful businesses that improve lives and help people get ahead. We also have a talented and growing technology community in the UK. Wayra UnLtd is helping these two come together, harnessing the power of technology to create real change for people and communities. I look forward to seeing some exciting work from their new applicants.”
The announcement of the successful social start-ups coincides with the appointment of the latest board member – renowned angel investor and board advisor, Sherry Coutu. She is joining an all-female board, and will bring with her the success of establishing and selling two businesses in the financial services industry. She is particularly active in early stage investing and has raised several rounds of venture capital and public equity totalling more than $200 million.
Sherry Coutu said of her new position: “I’m thrilled to be working with Wayra UnLtd. This is a brilliant venture that will bring together the expertise of Wayra and UnLtd, and provide technology social venture start-ups with a platform, mentoring and funding to help them in the early stages of their development. I am passionate about working with great entrepreneurs to solve problems that matter, and believe serving on the board of Wayra UnLtd will give me plenty of opportunity to indulge this.”
Full List of Winners:
Notes to editors:
UnLtd is the UK’s Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. We fund and support around 1000 social entrepreneurs per year. We put people at the heart of what we do and we reach out to find passionate, talented, resourceful people who are determined to tackle the key issues facing society.
We know communities that face problems contain the people who will create the solutions. Our approach is to offer seed funds, development support and networking opportunities in a tiered set of awards, from first steps to scaling up. UnLtd deliver the Big Venture Challenge programme, which raised early stage investment for 12 of the 25 ventures in the first year.
UnLtd is the trading name for The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, a company limited by guarantee. Company no. 4180639. Registered Charity no. 1090393
Wayra is Telefónica’s seed-stage startup funding firm for start-ups and projects that are early stage or in their initial phase of development; are innovative and use new technologies in the digital communications space; have high growth potential and with a global-scalable focus have a solid business model; and have the potential for a fast commercial time-to-market deployment. Wayra provides financing, mentoring, access to technology expertise within Telefónica and use of purpose-built Wayra Academies to accelerate these businesses and further develop their ideas.
To date Wayra has received over 13,000 submissions from early stage businesses and provided financing to 175 start-ups.
Wayra has 13 academies in eleven countries Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and the UK.
About the Social Incubator Fund
The Social Incubator Fund was launched in 2012 by the UK Government as an initiative to stimulate the early stage social investment marketplace. It is delivered by Big Lottery Fund on behalf of the Office for Civil Society, providing investment across the UK into ‘social incubators’ – organisations that will offer a period of intensive support to social enterprise start-ups and give social entrepreneurs access to the resources they need to get their ventures off the ground. The first two winners announced in February 2013 shared £2.1m of funding.