Product, Service & Design Innovation
Unilever Foundry Seeking 50 New Stellar Marketing Tech Startups

Unilever Foundry — Unilever’s startup technology incubator — has launched a search for the world’s top 50 marketing technology startups to pitch to industry leaders at Lions Innovation in Cannes in June. As part of the Unilever Foundry 50, the startups will have an exclusive opportunity to showcase their technology, pitch their solutions to brand and agency leaders from around the world and catalyze new partnerships.

Last year, Unilever launched the Foundry 50 initiative with Lions Innovation as a way to bring entrepreneurs who are pioneering the industry to meet marketing leaders at Cannes and kickstart collaborations.

“The Unilever Foundry has a knack of identifying and supporting the most innovative startups in the world. Being selected as part of the Foundry 50 gave us validation in the eyes of the industry that is unparalleled,” said Edward Pearse Wheatlely, co-founder of Seenit and 2015 Foundry 50 finalist. “We had access to people and opportunities that would not have been possible alone. The introduction made at Lions Innovation through the Foundry 50 have led to investments from the markets we are trying to conquer!”

Unilever Foundry provides an entry point for tech startups and scale-ups to connect with its 400 brands and champions their role in the industry. Its Pitch-Pilot-Partner approach dramatically cuts the time it takes to get a new initiative to market, with the average project going from brief to pilot in nine months. In addition to marketing, Unilever Foundry has also sought innovations related to the future of food and the Internet of Things. In 2016, the Foundry 50 initiative is being scaled up to provide even more opportunity for startups to engage with industry during the two-day event on June 21 and 22 that brings together the worlds of data, technology and ideas during the 63rd annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Lions Innovation for a second year to help raise the profile of startups who are transforming our industry,” said Aline Santos, SVP of Marketing at Unilever. “Like Unilever Foundry, Lions Innovation believe that fostering the creativity and innovation of tech startups is instrumental to bringing the future of marketing forward. By working collectively with startups, we can supercharge the transformation of our industry, and that's good for consumers, for brands and for entrepreneurs. Since our launch last year, 80 percent of the Foundry 50 are now working with us and other global brands, so the success of this program is evident.”

Successful startups will be given access to exclusive networking opportunities, discounted accommodation in the Foundry 50 village for four nights, a free delegate pass to Lions Innovation conference and the opportunity to showcase their technology in an interactive space on the show floor.

“Start-ups are the lifeblood of Lions Innovation and we are delighted to be welcoming back the Unilever Foundry 50 to the Festival,” said Lions Festivals CEO Philip Thomas. “This is a unique opportunity for the most promising international crop of innovators to get their ideas in front of the brands and agencies who can really bring them to life; a process we believe is fundamental to the future of the industry.”

The Foundry 50 will be chosen by a panel of experts, including co-founder Brent Hoberman; Rob Dembitz, head of Lions Innovation; Karmarama Creative Director Jo Jenkins; Olivier Garel, head of Unilever Ventures; and Aline Santos, Senior VP of Global Marketing at Unilever.

To be chosen for the Global Top 50, startups need to meet the following criteria:

  1. Be innovative and truly disruptive, clearly differentiated from competitors already in the market
  2. Be relevant and interesting to the Brand, Marketing & Advertising industry
  3. Incorporation within the last 5 years
  4. Demonstrate innovation in one of the following 5 categories:
  • Future of Retail
  • Brand & Content Innovation
  • Data, Insights & Personalization
  • Social Impact
  • Engaging Millennials

10 startups will be selected against each of the five categories. Winning startups will take part in a four-day Foundry 50 program from 20th to 23rd June.

Entries will be accepted through March 11, 2016 at 23:59 GMT. The final Foundry 50 will be revealed on April 13, 2016.

Last year at Cannes, Unilever Foundry also launched its IDEAS platform, which acts as a hub for consumers and entrepreneurs to work together to tackle sustainability challenges — in September, winning ideas were chosen for the first three challenges: improving access to sanitation, improving global nutrition, and imagining the shower of the future.


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