Mobile operator Telefónica, which runs O2, is looking to find the next handful of high-potential tech firms to back through its start-up incubator in London, known as Wayra.

The Wayra Academy opened its doors to 16 start-ups in June 2012 and today announced that it is looking for up to nine more start-ups to be part of its next cohort. 

As with the first cohort, Wayra will back the start-ups with funds of up to £40,000, while providing them with space in the academy near Tottenham Court Road and advice from Telefónica staff. 

Telefonica invests through a Convertible Loan note – which it says is 'standard for the start-up scene'. Once the venture has secured further external funding Telefonica will convert its £40,000 of funding into equity - typically around 5-10% of the business.

 The Wayra Academy is also supported by entrepreneur support provider UnLtd, which helps to fund and assist around 1500 social entrepreneurs per year. 

David de San Benito Torre, head of Wayra UnLtd, said: “We are looking for entrepreneurs with a sustainable business model based on technology and digital solutions that can have a positive impact in the community combining both business and social profitability.”

The deadline for applications is 9 March. More information on how to apply can be found here.

Following the application deadline, a panel of judges from Wayra, Telefónica and the incubator will review each submission, choosing a shortlist of applicants who will be invited to take part in the Wayra UnLtd Week between 9 – 11 April. The shortlisted entrepreneurs will then be asked to pitch their ideas to a panel of representatives from Wayra, Telefónica, UnLtd, independent VCs and technology experts. 

Successful start-ups will move into the office space in Central London on 12 May 2014.

Wayra pointed out that a number of start-ups in the previous cohort went on to raise funding since enrolling in the programme. For example, education platform Third Space Learning went on to secure a further £175,000 through the network and contacts associated to the Wayra UnLtd programme.

Cliff Prior, CEO of UnLtd, said: “We have been working closely with the businesses in cohort one with many choosing to apply for our own Big Venture Challenge, our programme through which we invest in social enterprises through a match-funding approach.”

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