The AI & Blockchain Accelerator Opens Applications For 2020 Programme

The AI & Blockchain Accelerator, at the University of Edinburgh’s world-leading Bayes Centre, calls start-ups and entrepreneurs to apply for the 2020 programme. Applications can be submitted online ( from 3rd December to 15th January.

The Accelerator is a collaboration between Wayra UK, Telefónica’s open innovation arm and the University’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.

According to Daniel Lesnick, a Blockchain expert working in the programme since its launch in 2018, “The Accelerator has a mission to make the UK and Edinburgh the “go-to” place for new AI and Blockchain businesses with high-growth potential. To date, 20 start-ups have been accelerated through the programme, which aims to scale their businesses through investment, mentoring, and business development, by giving them access to the networks of all market-leading partners”.

Ritchie Somerville, Head of Strategy for the University of Edinburgh’s DDI programme, commented: “The DDI programme has as one of its core areas of focus supporting data-driven entrepreneurship across the Edinburgh and South East Scotland region.  Progressing from having a good idea to running a business is one that calls on lots of support, and when working with new and cutting edge technology, this is especially true.  The Wayra Accelerator, housed in the Bayes Centre, is a fantastic example of how the University, working with industry and government can support both the growth of local talent and attract new businesses to the region.”

Ocyan, a blockchain start-up from the 2019 cohort, has already expanded its business to Spain, Germany, Italy and the UK via the Accelerator, and is receiving ongoing business support from Scottish Enterprise. They are also doing trials with Telefónica, which is testing Ocyan’s cloud-native blockchain platform for their business. The Company’s CEO, Evangelos Papas, will pitch Ocyan on the 11th December at the Accelerator Demo Day at Mansfield Traquair, Edinburgh. Demo Day is like a “graduation” day for the start-ups and it marks the end of the programme.

Over the programme, the start-ups have had a series of high-profile visitors and workshops, including Brock Pierce, who is credited as a digital currency pioneer and has raised over $5B for crypto and blockchain companies. Pierce is also the Chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation and Co-Founder of EOS Alliance,, Blockchain Capital, Tether and Mastercoin.

After the application period finishes, the partners will select start-ups for the semi-finals, which will take place on 30th January 2020. Some start-ups will then be selected for the finals on 6th February 2020, from which 10 start-ups will be chosen to join the next cohort, to begin on 19th February 2020 and end in June 2020. During the programme, all start-ups will be based in the Bayes Centre.


WHAT: AI & Blockchain Accelerator opens applications for 2020 programme

WHO: Wayra UK (Telefónica’s open innovation arm), The University of Edinburgh, The DDI, Scottish Enterprise and Cisco.


WHEN: 3rd December to 15th January

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Victor Aloi, or +44 7716 912 117.



At Wayra UK, we democratise entrepreneurship. We do this by providing unparalleled access to networks and capital that turn start-ups into scale-ups while ensuring that our cohorts reflect the diversity of the UK and, indeed, the world. Our 190 portfolio companies have a combined value of near $1bn and have had 136 trials with Telefónica, generating $18m in revenue for our portfolio of start-ups.

Add to this a further 7 programmes that have supported 94 start-ups in 6 cities throughout the UK, and it becomes clear why it is said that Wayra UK is Great Britain’s only truly national innovation programme. We bring world-class start-ups not only to Telefónica globally and O2 locally but also to our network of partners, including Cisco, Novartis, Ferrovial, Hyundai, Bosch, Innogy, Network Rail and the British Government via the GCHQ and NCSC. In each case, our primary aim is to find new sources of revenue and/or innovation.

We are part of the larger Wayra network.  At Wayra, we scale start-ups. We offer start-ups access not only to investment but also to business development opportunities with some of the world’s largest companies, including our parent company, Telefónica. Wayra operates in 10 countries, mostly in Latin America (i.e., Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela) and Europe (i.e., Germany, Spain and the UK).  This makes us one of the world’s most global, connected and technological innovation hubs.



Telefónica is one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world by market capitalization and number of customers with a comprehensive offering and quality of connectivity that is delivered over world class fixed, mobile and broadband networks. As a growing company, it prides itself on providing a differential experience based both on its corporate values and a public position that defends customer interests.

The company has a significant presence in 14 countries and over 346 million accesses around the world. Telefónica has a strong presence in Spain, Europe and Latin America, where the company focuses an important part of its growth strategy.

Telefónica is a 100% listed company and its shares are traded on the Spanish Stock Market and on those in New York and Lima.



The Bayes Centre is the University’s innovation hub for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. The technical strengths brought together in Bayes build on world-leading academic excellence in the mathematical, computational, engineering, and natural sciences in the University’s College of Science and Engineering.

The Bayes Centre offers a new kind of collaborative, multidisciplinary proving ground where we develop innovative technological solutions for the benefit of society. We have a community of over four hundred internationally recognised scientists, outstanding PhD students, leading industry experts and innovation support professionals, working together across disciplines and sectors to advance data technology and apply it to real-world problems.

Data science education, tech entrepreneurship, and industrially driven, multidisciplinary research and design are the core pillars of our strategy to boost the University’s impact across the city, region, nationally, and internationally through new activity that complements the existing strengths of our community.

The Bayes Centre is part of the DDI Programme within the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. It collaborates closely with other DDI hubs, the Edinburgh Futures Institute, the Usher Institute, the National Robotarium, and Easter Bush.



The Data-Driven Innovation initiative is part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and aims to help organisations and all our citizens benefit from the data revolution. Working together to deliver the 10-year programme are the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University, whose experts will collaborate with industrial partners on data-based projects in the public, private and third sectors. The Programme will increase the contribution of university research and in-demand graduate skills to the region’s economy, launching more spinout companies, attracting start-ups and established businesses, and driving public and private sector investment.

Five data-driven innovation ‘hubs’ have been created, housing expertise and facilities to help 10 industrial sectors become more innovative through data. The University of Edinburgh hosts the Bayes Centre, Edinburgh Futures Institute, Easter Bush campus, and Usher Institute. The National Robotarium is a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. Supporting the work of the hubs, is a new super-computing facility for the secure and trustworthy analysis of datasets, which will be unique within Europe.



Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s national economic development agency. We’re committed to growing the Scottish economy for the benefit of all, helping create more quality jobs and a brighter future for every region.

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