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    Telefónica rolls out a €20 million a year programme to invest in innovative and entrepreneurial technology companies

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    A venture capital programme has been set up by Telefónica's Executive Committee to support the company's innovation strategy and has already signed up three pioneering start-ups.  By the end of 2008 there will be approximately 10 to 12 companies in Telefónica's strategic portfolio.

    Russ Shaw, Director of Innovation at Telefónica SA said: "The primary focus of the VC programme is to find the very best-of-breed innovators out there – vibrant, young start up companies that can bring new experiences, capabilities, and technologies to Telefónica and our customers".

    The three investments made to date have been mobile advertising solutions specialist Amobee, user recognition innovator GestureTek, and multimedia social networking specialist Kyte. 

    GestureTek has been selected as a finalist in the 2008 GSMA Mobile Innovation Global Awards for its innovative gesture-controlled mobile gaming and navigation software, EyeMobile Engine. Fifteen finalists were selected from several hundred entrants worldwide. Award winners will be announced during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

    EyeMobile is the world's first gesture-controlled user-interface for mobile devices, providing camera phone users with the ability to play games, scroll menu items, navigate maps and browse web pages simply by tilting or moving their mobile phones. 

    Shaw added: "The focus of the innovation agenda is to help the company to find new revenue streams and ways to differentiate the customer experience.  Although a financial return is important, the main focal point is to find companies who have a strategic fit with Telefónica in key areas of potential future growth.  A collaborative working relationship between the start-up and the various Telefónica operating businesses is encouraged right from the very outset".

    Telefónica takes a minority interest in each start up, and once the deal is closed, each start-up is assigned to a Telefónica Business Sponsor who will work closely with the company to ensure that it is getting the support and access that it needs within the Telefónica family of companies.