Wayra, Telefónica’s open innovation hub, invested a total of 4.5 million euros in 39 startups in Europe and Latin America in 2020. Of the total invested by Wayra globally, Spain invested 1.8 million euros in 15 startups, 29% more than the previous year. The projects are related to artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, video, virtual reality, cybersecurity, connectivity, data analytics or fintech.
Wayra thus reinforces its objective of investing in technology startups that fit with Telefónica’s strategic projects, as explained in a note. Wayra’s participation is up to 250,000 euros per company and helps companies to develop business with the group and connect with key business areas of Telefónica. Wayra Spain’s investments are as follows:
- Countercraft: Wayra invests again in this startup from San Sebastian, a pioneer in counterintelligence and cyber deception products to detect targeted attacks. The startup already has a long professional relationship with Telefónica, has recently signed an important agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense, NATO and is part of the Telefónica Tech Ventures portfolio.
- Ludus: originally from Bilbao, this platform pivoted from video game development to its successful business model: industry and emergency training through virtual reality. It offers professionals the possibility of regularly practicing action protocols in high-risk situations. It is also a reinvestment.
- Kymatio: is a SaaS (Software as a Service) that identifies, analyzes and provides everything needed to manage employee cyber risks. Developed in Madrid, its solution has become more relevant than ever to protect employees in the context of teleworking. Kymatio is also part of the Telefónica Tech Ventures portfolio.
- Proppos: this Catalan startup develops an intelligent and autonomous self-payment system for canteens, cafeterias or fast food restaurants. Proppos recognizes products with AI and accelerates the shopping experience.
- Humanox: is the creator of the world’s first connected and intelligent shin guards, capable of processing more than 50,000 data per training or match, offering the player more than 40 metrics aimed at improving their sports performance and health care. Its headquarters are located in Cadiz.
- Pridatect: has a mission to simplify privacy compliance for the enterprise through its platform and its GDPR and data protection software. Pridatect is part of the Telefónica Tech Ventures portfolio.
- Galgus: the startup is committed to facilitating a faster WiFi connection. Its Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT) optimizes the efficiency of WiFi access points and routers, increasing WiFi performance by up to 5 times. It plays a key role in boosting connectivity in remote or sparsely populated areas.
- Kenmei: this Valencian company is dedicated to providing autonomous solutions for mobile network operators. It has developed a network intelligence solution that provides automation in the classification, segmentation and resolution of network problems at different operational levels.
- Alias Robotics: originally from Vitoria-Gasteiz, this startup’s mission is to ensure safety in robots. Its products include RIS (Robot Immune System), which protects robots from malware, and Alurity, which simplifies the search for cybersecurity. Alias Robotics is part of the Telefónica Tech Ventures portfolio.
- Payflow: born in Barcelona in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, this startup allows a company’s employees to collect the fraction of their salary already worked at the time they choose, instead of collecting it in full at the end of the month.
- YBVR: based in Silicon Valley and present in four countries, this startup in which Wayra is investing again specializes in immersive virtual reality experiences. It achieves the monetization of virtual tickets at, for example, sporting events, allowing fans to transport themselves to the match and watch it in the front row.
In 2020 Telefónica also launched two initiatives that complete the company’s open innovation strategy. These are Wayra Builder, a corporate Venture Builder whose mission is to leverage Telefónica’s internal talent and technology to create innovative startups together with external investors; and Wayra X, Wayra’s first 100% digital hub designed to invest on a global scale in 100% digital startups.
Wayra X has invested in the following projects:
- Peopple: this is an app to discover recommendations from friends and favorite influencers on different topics such as books, restaurants, music and all kinds of experiences. It is based in Madrid.
- Blabla: is the online education platform that, through short videos, helps English learners connect with content produced by native speakers supported by AI and machine learning technology. Originating, in this case, from Shanghai.
- Nannyfy: this Barcelona startup reoriented its service with the arrival of Covid-19, going from being an offline marketplace for nannies or caregivers to launching Nannify TV and revolutionizing virtual learning and care for children under 12.
- Suscrip: the app for sharing direct debit payments between several people (rent, internet, subscription to streaming platforms, etc.), linking to the bank account and simplifying debts with preauthorized automatic payments.
2020 was also the year in which two Wayra investee startups were integrated into the company for the first time. Telefónica Tech acquired Govertis and iHacklabs, with the aim of strengthening its cybersecurity capabilities by incorporating entrepreneurial talent.
In turn, Wayra reinforced its commitment to the entrepreneurial ecosystem by signing strategic agreements with key players in the startup world such as Lanzadera, The Venture City, Startup Valencia or Seedrocket and BStartup, promoters of the Venture on the Road initiative, a unique roadshow designed to provide access to investors and networking in different cities in Spain.
“Part of the economic recovery of our societies in 2021 passes through the massive reinvention and digitization of key sectors for people’s daily lives. Entrepreneurs capable of solving the daily problems of millions of people have a lot to say this year and a world of opportunities to grow on a global scale,” explains Andrés Saborido, global head of Wayra. “From Wayra we look to 2021 with optimism and committed, more than ever, to startups.”