Telefónica and Volkswagen to tap start-up talent for smart cities


Telefónica and Volkswagen are seeking start-ups to develop new smart city solutions.

Small companies with skills in machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence have been invited to apply online to the scheme before applications close on 19 February.

The German arm of the operator’s incubator Wayra and Volkswagen’s Data:Lab innovation arm will select a winner from the applicants during a selection day later this year.

The winner will receive financial support, mentoring, office space and technical infrastructure.

Christian Lindener, Managing Director of Wayra Germany, said: “Due to the digital transformation the line between the different industries is getting thinner and thinner.

“The telecommunications sector and the car industry in a way face similar challenges. If Wayra and Data:Lab bundle their competences here, everyone will benefit – not least the start−ups.”

Barbara Sichler, Head of Business Development and Product Management at Data:Lab, said: ‟At Data:Lab we are working at the trend−setting topics artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics. Cooperation with start−ups is very important for us in order to develop new solutions.”

Wayra sits within Telefónica’s innovation division, headed by Chief Innovation Officer Gonzalo Martín Villa. The division also includes the Open Future arm, which was founded in 2014 to support entrepreneurs.

Vodafone recently partnered with an Italian university to launch a support scheme for start-ups involved in 5G, with the operator set to invest €10 million over four years.