THE Unilever Foundry, a global platform to connect innovative startups with Unilever's portfolio of brands, will be launched in Singapore on Jan 15 this year, Unilever announced on Monday.
The new platform will provide opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs to work on global projects, access mentoring from marketing professionals and tap into a new source of funding from Unilever Ventures, its venture capital arm. The Singapore launch of The Unilever Foundry will see over 300 Unilever marketers and leaders from Asia's startup community come together to witness live pitch presentations from local startup businesses, who will vie for a coveted spot in The Unilever Foundry.
With 400 brands in 190 countries, Unilever's products are used by two billion customers each day. Its brand portfolio spans a wide range, including Ben & Jerry's, Dove, Lipton and Rexona.
Unilever's senior vice-president of global marketing, Marc Mathieu, said the company has been working with startups for years, but is seeking to engage on a deeper level with these organisations in Singapore and across Asia.
For three months, Unilever mentors will work with startups and entrepreneurs to hone their brand vision, marketing strategy and product roadmap.
Unilever brands and teams will also post briefs looking for innovative technology solutions. Startups with proven technology will be invited to pitch their solution and, if selected, pilot their technology with Unilever.
The Unilever Foundry, set up in May 2014, has already launched or is committed to launching over 50 pilots with innovative tech startups around the world.
This initiative also offers companies the option to apply for funding through Unilever Ventures, with a focus on digital marketing. Some successful investments already made in this space include Brain Juicer, Yummly and Brandtone.
Depending on company needs, Unilever Ventures makes investments in three ways: startup capital, development capital or buyout.