Anthea Greco is head of partnerships at Wayra, where she is leading their Intelligent Mobility Accelerator. She joined Wayra from the Smart Steps team in Telefónica, where she was based in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and responsible for selling the product, a solution that uses Telefónica data and converts it into insights for organisations and brands, throughout Latin America. Anthea speaks Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English fluently.
“…gender equality is linked with improved productivity and economic growth, and it is proved to have positive effects also on the organisation’s reputation, its ability to attract workers, and also the working atmosphere within the company…”
Harnessing my fascination for technology and innovation
I have always been very curious, and that is why technology and innovation fascinates me. I believe the telecoms sector has a crucial role in our everyday lives; a role that comes with challenges, in particular in this new digital ecosystem.
It is fundamental for telecoms companies, more than in any other sector, to embrace innovation and find new business models. I have been working for four years in several digital departments of Telefónica; one of my first jobs was to find innovative solutions for display advertising, and I launched a pilot with an Irish start-up in Guatemala.
I then moved to the Big Data team and worked in Brazil to launch our products across Latin America. After launching in six countries, I decided to get closer to the start-up world – so I joined Wayra, Telefónica’s acceleration arm, one year ago.
My role at Wayra
As head of partnerships for Wayra UK, my responsibility is to manage all our existing partners, including corporates, governments and universities, and to create new strategic partnerships that allow Wayra to provide more value to the start-ups and to offer world-leading innovation programmes across different sectors.
One of the new exciting partnerships I have just secured is in the transport sector, as we are launching the Intelligent Mobility Accelerator together with our partners at the Transport Systems Catapult. The programme, which will acceleration the next generation of transport tech start-ups, is also supported by Network Rail, ThoughtWorks Ventures and Telefónica Smart Steps.
Intelligent Mobility and why it is vital to the future of transport
Intelligent Mobility is, in brief, using data in smart ways to improve the transport systems we all use every day.
Global transport systems are entering a period of radical change, driven by rapid technological advances in wireless communications, AI, alternative power trains, open data, the Internet of Things (IoT) and the rise in autonomous systems. And customer attitudes, expectations and behaviours are shifting rapidly in response.
We have already seen companies using smart transport solutions in ways that consumers love – from Uber, Citymapper, Skyscanner and Trainline, through to the Oyster card.
As we get better at using Big Data, we’ll see more and more companies using data to make cities and transport networks work more effectively.
Background to the Intelligent Mobility Accelerator
The Intelligent Mobility (IM) Accelerator is a partnership between Transport Systems Catapult and Wayra UK. It’s designed to attract disruptive start-ups with high-growth potential into the UK transport supply chain, while helping them grow into world-leading companies.
The programme will support two cohorts of six companies a year, based in Milton Keynes. The programme is the first in the UK to cover the full range of areas related to Intelligent Mobility. Its goal is to develop companies who will develop data-driven solutions for the most pressing transport problems facing the world today, improving day-to-day life for millions of commuters while creating new UK-based industry leaders in the £900bn global transport systems market.
The Intelligent Mobility Accelerator will invest in and accelerate start-ups tackling intelligent mobility challenges across selected focus areas, including transport data and analysis, customer experience, automation, and smart infrastructure and connectivity.
How start-ups benefit from getting involved
Businesses accepted to the programme will receive a six-month support programme, providing office space, mentoring and networking.
The successful start-ups will also get access to the partners’ networks of investors, government agencies, customers, large corporates and universities, as well as opportunities to work with the Transport Systems Catapult’s world-leading Data, Visualisation, Customer Experience, Connected and Autonomous Vehicle capability teams. They’ll also get access to Telefónica Smart Steps’ leading datasets on population flows and movements.
Changing male-dominant working cultures: Hard but necessary
Wayra has a strong commitment in engaging more women in the tech scene. We are really proud that 45% of our companies in recent years have had at least one female founder, far above industry norms.
I believe that in order to promote gender equality, organisations need to take concrete actions and establish measurable KPIs. Too often I hear companies and governments talking about gender equality without contributing the effort to make it a reality.
Changing male-dominant working cultures is hard but necessary. Women represent half of the world’s population, so the gender balance at work should be fair. But most importantly, gender equality is linked with improved productivity and economic growth, and it is proved to have positive effects also on the organisation’s reputation, its ability to attract workers, and also the working atmosphere within the company.
Coming up next for the Accelerator and Wayra more broadly
We’re about to choose which companies will join the first stage of the IM accelerator, ahead of a big launch in Milton Keynes in October. Finding out which start-ups will be on the programme is always an exciting time, as you get to learn about the great business ideas that we’ll be helping develop into market-ready solutions.
Aside for the IM Accelerator, we’ll also be launching our new accelerator in Greater Manchester that will support start-ups tackling the poverty premium – the reality that poor people pay more in real terms for goods and services that those who can more easily afford them. We’re also looking at new partnerships, while also carrying on with our general call for start-ups to join our leading London acceleration programme. It’s all go, and a great time to be at Wayra!