Edinburgh Uni & Wayra UK Launch AI & Blockchain Accelerator
The joint partnership will support a new accelerator to help companies working in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies to scale-up.
The £1.6 million agreement is Wayra UK’s first venture in Scotland and it is expected the collaboration will generate almost 400 jobs.
Supported by Scottish Enterprise, the joint programme will provide spin-out and start-up companies with the opportunity to scale, through direct access to Telefónica in the UK and beyond.
The announcement comes ahead of finalisation of the £1.1 billion Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, which aims to establish the region as the data capital of Europe. As part of this, Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities will collaborate to help organisations benefit from data-driven innovation and increase the talent supply for the region’s booming tech sector.
Proven Track Record of Success
Both the University of Edinburgh and Wayra UK have a strong track record of supporting and growing high value tech-based companies. The highly successful Engage Invest Exploit (EIE) annual tech event, is a testament to the success of the University’s Informatics Venture programme.
Wayra UK, which already has five existing accelerator programmes, has over the past six years supported more than 200 British and Irish start-ups. These have raised more than £150m in funding and entered into almost £10m worth of contracts with Telefónica. It currently supports around 50 companies a year through its accelerator programmes, which provides advice and mentorship to take ideas through to investment.
Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK, said:
“There’s no doubt that AI and blockchain will change the way that we all live and work. It is, therefore, an honour to work with the world-leading University of Edinburgh, a global player in artificial intelligence and Informatics, to find and support the entrepreneurs that will define our collective future.”
Dave Robertson, Head of College of Science and Engineering at the University of Edinburgh said:
“Our vision is to become the leading AI and blockchain accelerator in Europe, supporting the best start-ups to scale globally, and we see this partnership as a valuable step to realising that aim. The search is on for the most innovative data-driven start-ups to join the programme in Edinburgh.”
Endorsement from Number 10
At a round table event in Number 10 Downing Street as part of London Tech Week, Prime Minister Theresa May, announced the partnership, stating that it showed the government’s commitment to innovation.
She said: “The measures we are announcing today will allow innovative British start-ups to invest in their future – and in the UK – by hiring more skilled people, expanding their business and exporting their expertise across the world.
“It’s a great time to be in tech in the UK, and our modern Industrial Strategy will drive continued investment, ensuring the nation flourishes in the industries of the future and creating more high-paying jobs.”