Spain’s Telefonica, Europe’s third-largest telecoms company, aims to increase investments in Israel’s high-tech sector. This includes in e-health and other consumer-facing business. Luisa Rubio, who heads Telefonica’s innovation arm WayraX, has already made one investment in Israel – Upword, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create faster, more efficient summaries from notes.
She said WayraX, invests small amounts in early-stage funding. This is considering investing in two more Israeli startups. Rubio said that they have already executed the first one and hopefully, at the end of the year they will have another four or five companies coming from Israel. Israel will be one of their most relevant markets in terms of executing new investments. WayraX has taken stakes in 12 companies since it began at the end of 2020. It has a plan to reach 20 by the end of 2022. Wayra, has invested in some 800 companies, and Telfonica Ventures buys into more mature growth-stage companies.
WayraX only invests up to 250,000 euros ($263,500.00) per round. Rubio said that the value they bring to the table is not financial. It is being a strategic partner to help those entrepreneurs expand their operations all over their footprint and to do business potentially with Telefonica in the future. Electronic health and the ability of customers to connect to doctors online is a focus for Telefonica and a major area for investments in Israel.
Rubio stated that they know that they have to move really fast because he have never seen an ecosystem as dynamic as Israel. She noted that Wayra was also looking to boost investments in Miami as a hub to bridge Europe with Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America.