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Telefónica selects 16 start-ups for Wayra acceleration programme

Successful applicants will spend 6 months in the Wayra Academy before meeting venture capitalists

Mobile operator Telefnica, which runs O2, has selected 16 UK start-ups to join the London hub of its global tech start-up accelerator programme, Wayra.

The start-ups range from a real-time dating service (TrueView) and an educational teaching tool (Night Zookeeper), to a foodie social network (Epicurely) and new software that turns pictures into passwords (PixelPin).

The selection follows three days of intensive pitching by 30 shortlisted start-ups to a panel of nine judges including venture capitalist and founder of Smarta.com, Shaa Wasmund, CEO of Enternships.com and Co-Founder of StartUp Britain, Raj Dey, and corporate finance partner at KPMG, Mark Farlow.

"The selected businesses not only give an insight into the breadth of imagination and innovation in the UK, but also deliver confirmation that the UK has a strong pipeline of talent capable of building the future digital economy that will deliver growth and jobs," said Wasmund.

Later this month, the 16 successful start-ups will embark on a six-month residency in the new Wayra Academy, located in central London. They will receive financing, mentoring, access to technology tools and expertise as well as links into a network of entrepreneurs from Wayra's other accelerator academies.

At the end of the six-month programme, the start-ups will be introduced to a network of venture capitalists for next stage funding. In exchange for initial financing, Telefnica receives the right of first refusal on products, but it does not require the entrepreneurs to give it exclusivity.

"It's been a great opportunity to meet and network with the other teams," said successful Wayra applicant Matthew Munro, co-founder of Pollarize.me, a polling application that allows people to survey their friends across their social networks.

"The energy in the space has been fantastic, and I think it's an awesome sign of what we've got to look forward to when we get inside the Wayra Academy for real."

Back in April, Microsoft teamed up with Telefnica to provide Wayra entrepreneurs with access to licenses for Microsoft software development platforms, subscription to developer content within Microsoft Developer Network, technical support and visibility within Microsoft Partners and Mentors Network.

They will also receive subsidised access to Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform for up to two years - a service worth up to $60,000 (£37,000).

Telefnica recently launched a new Wayra accelerator programme for technology start-ups in Dublin's Docklands.

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