Four of the world’s biggest telecom firms – Orange, Telefonica, Singtel, and Deutsche Telekom – are teaming up to seek out new start-up talent in the Middle East, Latin America, and Asia.
In a gala announcement in Tel Aviv Monday, Nathalie Boulanger, director of the Orange Start-up Ecosystem, said that her company “had extensive experience working hand-in-glove with start-ups across the world, Orange sees the formation of global partnerships such as this as the critical next step to ensure that digital innovators continue to flourish. With our collective and complementary footprints spanning four continents, we can provide start-ups with access to new markets, thereby enabling them to accelerate their growth further.”
Israel is likely to figure strongly in the efforts by the companies to find new start-up technology; all four of the companies have conducted extensive research and development activities in Israel. Orange and DT have their own incubators and R&D centers in Israel – Orange Fab and hub:raum have run programs for several years. And Telefonica and Singtel are working with Israeli venture capital firms and corporations – VLX Partners and Amdocs, specifically – to seek out Israeli start-up tech.
The announcement was made on the sidelines of this week’s DLD (Digital Life Design) conference in Tel Aviv, where thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, and government and business officials gathered to check out the latest in Israeli high-tech.
Orange made headlines recently when it announced that it was ending its relationship with Israel’s Partner Communications, which has licensed the Orange name for over a decade. However, that decision had nothing to do with Orange’s efforts to find solid Israeli technology, insisted Jacky Abitbol, a vice president of Corporate Development at Orange and director of the company’s Fab Israel accelerator.
“We’ve been doing this for over a year, and have no plans to stop now,” said Abitbol. “For us at Orange, it’s all about business and tech in Israel, and there is no question that the technology being developed here is very valuable and unique.”
Under the program, start-ups will have the opportunity to deploy in new markets, through the global reach of the telecom giants. In addition, the start-ups will have the opportunity to take advantage of big data and business planning and mentoring to further develop their products and services. In addition, start-ups in the program will get introductions to investors and potential partners in markets around the world, as well as get access to co-working spaces in the four firms’ R&D centers around the world.
And, said the companies, start-ups selected for the program are more likely to be chosen as solutions for the four firms – whose customer base exceeds one billion people.
Edgar Hardless, CEO of Singtel Innov8, the company’s start-up development unit, said that his company’s “deep connections in Southeast Asia, we can help open doors for African, European, Middle Eastern and Latin American start-ups to the region. Similarly, our portfolio companies can leverage this partnership to expand beyond their home markets.”
Ana Segurado, managing director of Telefónica Open Future, said that “the agreement is a unique opportunity to reinforce our engagement to develop open and innovative initiatives to help telco operators enhance the digital experience of companies all over the world.”
Min-Kin Mak, VP of hub:raum, Deutsche Telekom, said that “with the partnership between Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Singtel and Telefónica, we see a huge opportunity to develop the bridges between the ecosystems in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America and to provide start-ups with critical market access, funding and expertise to become more successful with their international expansion.”