AI & Blockchain Accelerator 

Based at the Bayes Centre, this programme is a collaboration between Wayra UK and The University of Edinburgh’s Data-Driven Innovation Initiative. It is also supported by Scottish Enterprise and sponsored by Cisco.

What is the AI Blockchain Accelerator?

The AI & Blockchain Accelerator is a collaboration between Wayra UK, Telefónica’s open innovation arm and the University of Edinburgh’s Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Programme (part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal). It is also supported by Scottish Enterprise and sponsored by Cisco.

As part of its mission to make the UK and Edinburgh the data capital of Europe we are looking for new AI or Blockchain businesses with high growth potential.  The Accelerator is looking for start-ups who:

    • offer next-generation solution using AI or Blockchain technologies that are better, safer and cheaper than existing products.

    • are using innovative techniques to solve a known problem.

    • that can make a difference now rather than research proposals.

    • have an active UK (ideally Scottish)  presence including a UK/Scottish registered business.

   • Are creating innovative AI or Blockchain technology within the verticals: Financial Services, Health Tech, Clean Tech for Green Growth, Legal Tech and AI for Good.

The solutions could be for any customers, from individuals at home to the world’s biggest companies, but must address one of the challenge themes outlined above.

The Accelerator is run in partnership with The University of Edinburgh and Wayra, combining the  technical & research expertise  of UoE and Wayra’s commercial connectedness to London’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is supported by Scottish Enterprise offering Scotland wide businesses support .

The programme runs for 4 months and meets three days a week. It is based in the Bayes Centre, Edinburgh and a founder of each company is required to attend each week for the three days.  To have a national reach but an Edinburgh focus, we offer a £7500 stipend to cover travel costs.

The programme selects up to 10 companies, which range in their maturity from early stage angel investment to securing initial seed investment.

Through a combination of technical and commercial mentorship and introductions, the programme works with start-ups to:

    • articulate their fundamental proposition and strengthen their business foundations.

    • develop and communicate their core product or service to a range of business audiences.

    • facilitate introductions to companies and investors.

    • provide access to University digital talent.

What we offer

£7500 grant (to cover travel costs)

Wayra’s  and The University of Edinburgh’s investor global networks and VCs

Use of a dedicated accelerator facility in The Bayes Centre, Edinburgh

Telefónica staff tasked to assess and support start-up business opportunities

Tailored 360-degree start-up and business growth support through dedicated Scottish Enterprise services.

Opportunity to access the expertise of world leading AI and Blockchain scientists, research and Data ‘talent’

Links to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland Region City Deal via the DDI

Business support including training, boot camps, workshops and accelerator programmes by coaches and mentors

Business and AI/Blockchain experts, Academics and alumni network

Brand association with the University of Edinburgh, Telefónica, Wayra and Scottish Enterprise.

Access to Scotland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem partner organizations for networking opportunities, events, funding, potential collaborations and further support.

Access to 346 million Telefónica customers in 14 countries – 7 technology specific hubs in the UK


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Case Study

Telefónica and Ocyan have closed a commercial deal in which Ocyan becomes the infrastructure layer for Telefónica’s TrustOS, enabling the Telecom giant to deploy a blockchain solution in any cloud or data centre provider, for any underlying blockchain protocol, in a very agile and scalable way.

The deal comes together with a pre-seed investment round where Ocyan received capital lead by QVentures and joined by Wayra UK.

This agreement makes Telefónica one of the leaders in the enterprise blockchain market, by being able to target large enterprises to SMEs use cases in multiple industries. The future plans are to expand the TrustOS offering with more APIs and applications for IoT, tracing & tracking, ID, settlements, tokenization and other future uses.

Since joining the AI & Blockchain programme in 2019, Ocyan expanded its business to the UK, Spain, Germany and Italy and was awarded “Start-up of the year” by Horizon Event in 2019.

Areas of Interest

The programme will invest in and accelerate start-ups tackling engineering challenges across selected focus areas:

Social inclusion/equity
Operational Efficiency
Sustainable Production Systems
Smart Cities and IoT
Smart Contracts
Tokenization of Digital Assets
Enterprise Sales
Customer Service & Customer Experience
Supply Chain Management & Traceability
Fintech & Insurance
Chatbots, Voice & Web chat
Transport & Smart Mobility
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Are there any restrictions on the types of companies who can apply?
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Where will the programme be based?
Will UoE / Wayra take any equity in the companies?
Are the companies required to licence or transfer any of their intellectual property to UoE or Wayra?
After the programme, will the companies be invited to work with Telefonica?
Are the companies effectively working for the Accelerator Partners?
Why is Wayra suited to partner the University of Edinburgh?
What does the Wayra programme offer?
Who is Wayra?