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“We must transform at some point”: Building trust between cities and start-ups

SmartCitiesWorld talks to Wayra UK’s Raphael Ani about how cities and start-ups can work together better.

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A lack of trust could be what’s holding cities back from reaping the full benefits of working with start-ups, says Raphael Ani, head of external commercialisation at Wayra UK, Telefónica Group’s innovation arm which supports start-ups to scale.

 



 

"That fresh thinking that comes from the outside industry is something that start-ups bring to play."

 

“Most big organisations, councils and cities have wonderful people but these people have been doing the same job for a very long time. What tends to happen is that we fall into the mode of seeing things in the same way and looking for the same solution,” Ani said, adding: “That fresh thinking that comes from the outside industry is something that start-ups bring to play.”

 

Red tape

 

Most importantly, Ani said, start-ups bring speed in deploying those ideas.

 

“It’s something that we as corporations with the red tape that we have, that has built up over time, are not able to compete with or replicate,” he commented, noting solutions from start-ups are often cheaper too.

 

Wayra UK is focused on helping start-ups validate their technology and find the right market fit with customers, including large corporations and local authorities.

 

Making the leap

 

When it comes to cities working with start-ups, “there needs to be more trust on both sides,” Ani said.

 

“We understand why councils are very particular; they run some very critical services that cannot be tampered with. However, if we stick to the way we do things today, it will continue to be more expensive. We have to transform at some point.”

 

"If we stick to the way we do things today, it will continue to be more expensive."

He said through facilitating these trusted relationships between entrepreneurs, cities and big corporations, Wayra UK can help smart city solutions be developed faster and to progress from pilots to full contracts.

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