According to a senior executive, Telefonica, Europe’s third-largest telecoms operator, plans to invest more in Israel’s high-tech industry this year, particularly in e-health and other consumer-facing businesses.
Luisa Rubio, the CEO of Telefonica’s innovation arm, WayraX, has already made one investment in Israel – Upword, a company that utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to generate better, more efficient summaries from notes quickly.
WayraX, which invests in early-stage firms with relatively low amounts of money, is considering investing in two additional Israeli startups, with a decision due in the coming weeks.
More to come
Following a recent visit to the country, Rubio told Reuters that Telefonica has already completed the first one, and maybe by the end of the year, it will have another four or five firms coming from Israel, adding that in terms of completing new investments, Israel will be one of its most important markets.
WayraX has invested in 12 firms since its inception at the end of 2020, with a goal of 20 by the end of 2022, according to Rubio. WayraX, which has been around for a decade, has invested in over 800 businesses, whereas Telefonica Ventures invests in more established growth-stage businesses.
WayraX only invests up to 250,000 euros ($263,500.00) in every round because its investments are early stage.
Strategic partnership above financial weight
Rubio explains that the value Telefonica brings to the table isn’t money; it’s being a strategic partner to assist those entrepreneurs in expanding their businesses throughout its territory—and perhaps conducting business with it in the future.
Customers’ capacity to communicate with doctors online is something Telefonica wants to make possible and a big area for investment in Israel. Rubio also mentioned consumer activities like grocery shopping.
She added that Telefonica knows it needs to act quickly (on investment choices) because she’s never seen an environment as dynamic as Israel’s.