Telefónica's start-up platform Wayra enters deal with BearingPoint

06 February 2019 5 min. read

Wayra, the start-up incubation and accelerator platform of Telefónica, has signed a cooperation agreement with BearingPoint. The partnership enables the consulting firm to work closely with many of the globe’s most promising telecoms-focused technology start-ups on topics such as artificial intelligence, big data, digital communication and the internet of things.

From its roots in Latin America – Wayra first launched in Colombia in mid-2011 – Wayra has grown to what Gonzalo Martín-Villa, Telefónica’s Chief Innovation Officer, describes as “one of the world’s largest corporate-backed open innovation hubs for start-ups”. Key objective of Wayra is develop and connect innovators with Telefónica to generate joint business opportunities. Under the canopy of Telefónica’s muscle and international reach, more than 400 start-ups have since inception been groomed across different fields of the telecommunication industry. Today, 20+ of those are valued at over $50 million. 

Wayra seeks to leverage its open innovation model to develop start-ups/offerings that support Telefónica's strategic digitisation goals, with Wayra acting as a catalyst for change, explained Miguel Arias, Global Entrepreneurship Director at the Spanish telecom giant. “We aspire to support a cultural change in the company that reaches the whole organisation and leads us to more agile and digital processes, with the objective of having, in 2020, more than 200 start-ups working on a scale with Telefónica, helping to grow significantly in income and become more efficient and more sustainable.” 

Along the lines of its open innovation approach, Wayra has now opened up its network to BearingPoint, a European-origin management and technology consulting firm. “With BearingPoint we have not only found a partner who shares our mindset that start-ups are a fundamental pillar in the digital transformation strategy at any corporate and SME, but also shares our passion of perpetual reinvention,” said Christian Lindener, who leads Wayra in Germany. The partnership spans all of Wayra’s hubs in Europe (Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom) and Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela).Telefónica's start-up platform Wayra enters deal with BearingPoint

For start-ups within Wayra’s network, BearingPoint will provide them with the opportunity to access clients and application areas beyond Telefónica. BearingPoint works with clients across sectors, and boasts a strong track record in the digital transformation arena. For the consultancy, the move allows it to bolster its offerings to telecommunication clients with a new layer of innovative services. “The cooperation with Wayra enables us to create added value for our clients by involving innovative start-ups in projects,” said Kiumars Hamidian, the firm’s Managing Partner.

He added that start-ups that catch the eye of BearingPoint’s teams – “especially players at the forefront of artificial intelligence” – could be admitted into the firm’s own venture fund. “Cooperating with promising ventures is deeply embedded in our firm-wide strategy. It enables us to be part of and shape innovative trends and gain important expertise and experience, which in turn helps us to support our clients in the best possible way,” commented Patrick Palmgren, the company’s Chief Development Officer.

“The cooperation with Wayra is part of our innovation strategy,” said Hamidian, pointing at how the alliance symbolises how both companies are embracing a novel way of working to advance their respective business models. “Innovation is what keeps us and our clients ahead of the competition.”

In the case of Telefónica, the company has mapped out a strategy to transition from a pure-play telecom company to an IT services provider and a creator of digital innovation platforms that drive economic growth. Leveraging their heritage in assets and data, telecom companies are in the future expected to earn more from supporting emerging sectors such as smart cities, smart homes and connected cars, than from traditional voice or data.

A platform-based future

Interestingly, BearingPoint is one of the institutions strongly propagating telcos' new ‘platform’ future. Based on research into the trend, the firm found that “companies adopting digital platform-based business models grow at twice the rate of those that don’t, simply because this allows them to generate value from their partner ecosystems.” This led Angus Ward, a partner at BearingPoint, to describe partner ecosystems as “the closest thing to a silver bullet we’ve seen in the telecoms industry in years.” 

“The telecom sector needs to restructure and refocus its business to be successful…The influence of digital platforms cannot be ignored. The strategic value of a digital platform is to harness the service offerings from a diverse supplier base, and then to use shared orchestration, monetisation and administration tools to offer new service bundles.” 

“Wayra is where the market is heading,” concluded Hamidian, who has been at the helm of BearingPoint since June last year when he succeeded Peter Mockler.

Related: Six technology and digital trends for telecom operators.