Wayra partners with the UK government for the Latin America expansion project

Startup accelerator Wayra has partnered with the UK government to identify and support technology expansions from several Latin American countries looking to expand their operations in the UK.

The initial work of the Scaleup UK 2021 project will focus on mapping around 50 scaleups from Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, which it defines as “SMEs with the potential to expand their operations internationally to at least two countries”.

Once the mapping is complete, a report will be created to serve as a source of information and contacts for the UK government and its embassies in the region, as well as a platform for extensions to gain visibility and find opportunities.

In the second phase of the project, scheduled for January 2021, a jury of UK and local experts will select 10 of the 50 or more mapped scales to participate in a demo day, where they will be asked to present their expansion plans. and why they see the UK as an ideal market for their business.

“We want the best entrepreneurs in the world to expand their businesses to the United Kingdom, where they will find one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world. The UK technology industry, in particular, has shown staggering numbers, attracting more capital investment than any other European market, ”said British Ambassador to Argentina Mark Kent.

“We know that Argentina has a particularly creative and thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem, and we are proud that Argentine companies of varying sizes have chosen to operate in the UK as a way to expand globally.”

The two winning scaleups will be included in a program to help them ‘smoothly land’ their business in the UK market, which will include meetings with UK government figures and trade agendas organized by Wayra.

“The UK is open to supporting innovative companies looking to expand into new markets,” said Joanna Crellin, UK Commissioner for Trade and Investment in Latin America. “I am delighted that we are collaborating with Wayra to allow two scaleups from Argentina, Chile or Uruguay to reach the UK. Latin America is known for its creativity and we are here to help the region’s most promising technology expansions accelerate their growth and achieve success ”.

Wayra, which participates in the execution of a series of acceleration programs, was established in 2011 as the innovation arm of the Spanish multinational telecommunications company Telefónica, and currently operates 11 innovation centers in 10 countries.

While it is unclear whether scaling firms will work with Telefónica in the future, 35% of Wayra Hispam’s portfolio of 150 startups, Wayra’s Latin American arm, has gone on to work with the telecommunications giant, and 194 startups In Wayra UK they have entered 149 lawsuits or contracts with the company among them.

“We want the best entrepreneurs in the world to expand their businesses in the United Kingdom, where they will find one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world”

Mark Kent, British Ambassador to Argentina

In 2019, Wayra UK partnered with the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) to help run its Cyber ​​Accelerator, as well as with global healthcare company Novartis to launch an accelerator for healthcare technology startups.

The previous year, Wayra partnered with the University of Edinburgh to launch an accelerator for Scottish startups working on artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies.

“We are very interested in implementing this agreement with the UK government and offering scaleups from the region the possibility of expanding into a highly dynamic market like the UK, providing valuable recognition to local innovative talent,” said Agustín Rotondo, Regional Director of Wayra Hispam. .

Testing times for startups

In October 2020, market analysis by space coworking and innovation company Plexal and the UK database for fast-growing companies Beauhurst found that a record number of tech startups collapsed in September, meaning that a total of 1,067 had been presented for administration, liquidation or dissolution from the country. The national shutdown began on March 23.

According to Henry Whorwood, Beauhurst’s head of research and consulting, the number of startups that collapsed in September was unprecedented.

“While the number of applications has grown naturally as the number of high growth companies in the UK has increased, our data clearly shows a sustained reduction in these companies applying for administration, liquidation or dissolution as a result of support schemes. government financial for small businesses, ”he said at the time.

“The sudden increase that follows, however, indicates that the impact of these schemes is diminishing. The next few months could be crucial for the future of the UK startup community. “

The analysis further found that since the UK was closed, high-growth startups have raised £ 5.37 billion in investment, but most of this has gone to established companies: only £ 458 million went to fundraisers. funds for the first time, representing a 55% decline year-over-year.

This trend has been around since the beginning of the pandemic, with previous research from Plexal and Beauhurst from May showing that only £ 52 million out of just over £ 1 billion raised at the time went to startups and entrepreneurs than ever before. they had raised money. .

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