Telefónica makes Davos commitment to kickstart digital Europe

Wayra cohort record investment levels

Telefónica’s commitment to spearheading Europe’s digital revival consists of a number of initiatives which have been informed by the findings of the “European Accelerator and Incubator Ecosystem in Europe” research which was launched by Vice-President Kroes at Telefónica’s Start-Up Europe Summit at Campus Party Europe in London in September 2013.

Telefonica will be spearheading two concrete projects in partnership with BBVA and Orange:

The European Digital Forum – a digital economy think tank led by The Lisbon Council -will drive joint projects in key areas of digital innovation to boost growth in the European digital ecosystem. The Forum is the translation of the Start-Up Manifesto into real policy and business action, allowing corporations, startups and any other relevant players in the digital economy to create a vibrant debate on concrete issues that directly affect the evolution and growth of the digital economy in Europe.

The Startup Europe Partnership, led by Mind the Bridge and NESTA, is an extension of the European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative– dedicated to building a thriving network of entrepreneurs and innovators, and one of the 6 actions for web entrepreneurs defined in the Commission Communication “Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan”. The StartUp Europe Partnership brings together the leading lights of Europe’s entrepreneur and innovation industries, offering the opportunity for large corporations, start-ups and universities to connect and build networks.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, José María Álvarez-Pallete – Chief Operating Officer, Telefónica – said: “Boosting Europe’s digital competitiveness needs policies that spur investment and kickstart growth, but at the same time we need to encourage and support innovation-driven entrepreneurship. Key to this will be to narrow the gap between start-ups and multinational corporations. Our vision is that European corporations – big and small – can work together with Universities to transform society and the economy in all areas of digital innovation to achieve growth in digital skills and entrepreneurship in a sustainable way. These two initiatives will play a major role in helping this important evolution”.

Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commission, said: “Europe needs thriving startups and global internet companies to become a global growth centre again. Politicians don’t create jobs, entrepreneurs do. We’re going to support that mindset and push European start-ups beyond their comfort zone. And then we’re going to get out of the way. Sometimes the best thing a political leader can do is get out of the way.”

José María Álvarez-Pallete is representing Telefónica in Davos as a founding member of the ‘Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs’ – a multi-stakeholder partnership launched by the EC last year to boost digital skills, innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe. He also participated in a panel debate titled ‘Consumers, Makers and Disruptors’ – which addressed issues around sustainable business in a world populated by nine billion people.

Wayra, Telefónica’s start-up incubator, has invested in around 300 businesses, established 13 academies to date, and continues to review hundreds of new businesses every year.

Telefónica’s Think Big programme – which aims to create a better future for Europe and young people through supporting entrepreneurial ideas – has funded nearly 9,000 projects across Europe, directly involving over 10,000 young people. From an educational perspective, Telefónica has committed to teach digital literacy to 50,000 students by 2015 through its Think Big Schools programme. Think Big exceeded its Grand Coalition pledge to engage 7,000 in its ICT skills programme by educating a total of 8,314 young people in less than 12 months.

The Talentum Startup programme aims to connect entrepreneurs, to exchange ideas across Europe and to make borders meaningless for our youth and for our start-ups. The Talentum programme not only allows the creation of start-ups, but enables them to grow into tomorrow’s pan-European businesses.