Telefonica to host ‘Glastonbury for geeks’

O2-owner Telefonica aims to position itself at the heart of the UK’s digital economy by hosting the first UK Campus Party, an event widely labelled ‘Glastonbury for geeks’.  

The pan-European mobile operator is hosting the week-long event at The O2 in Greenwich, London, where it aims to attract up to 10,000 attendees interested in computer coding, gaming and app development – a demographic which it believes will produce entrepreneurs that will shape the future of the UK digital economy.  

Mike Short, vice president of Telefonica Europe, says: “We see a skills shortage, particularly in coding… Surveys point to the fact that young people want support in areas where the national curriculum may have not be as in-depth as they [games developers, etc] may have needed [Telefonica wants to bridge that gap].” 

During the event, which takes place between 2-7 September, attendees will also have the opportunity to hear keynote addresses from Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Wired editor David Rowan and leading ‘big data’ scientist’ Alex ‘Sandy’ Pentland. A line-up Telefonica hopes will help associate it with future innovations.  

Telefonica also sees such experiential events such as Campus Party as an opportunity to engage with audiences that are otherwise difficult to engage with via traditional mainstream media channels. 

“This is not strictly a branded event [despite it being held at The O2] but it does show attendees that we’re constantly thinking of the future,” adds Short.  

Currently, the mobile operator is trying to sign up third-party brands interested in similar exposure to this demographic, with trade body UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and web development giant Mozilla, plus a host of leading UK universities already on board as partners.  

The move echoes Telefonica’s earlier bid to position itself as a forward thinking digital services firm – instead of a traditional “dumb pipe” mobile operator – with last year’s formation of its start-up incubator Wayra.

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