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The Unilever Foundry 50 Returns to Lions Innovation at Cannes



The search is on to find 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, startups will have an exclusive opportunity to showcase their technology, pitch their solutions to brand and agency leaders from around the world and catalyse 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 kick start collaborations.

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 21 and 22 June that brings together the worlds of data, technology and ideas during the 63nd annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

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.

“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.  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 lead to investments from the markets we are trying to conquer!” said Edward Pearse Wheatlely, co-founder of Seenit and 2015 Foundry 50 finalist

“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.  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 programme is evident,” said Aline Santos, SVP Marketing at Unilever.

“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 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 & Personalisation
  • 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 programme from 20th to 23rd June.

Startups can apply from today at Entries will close at 23:59 GMT, Friday 11 March 2015. The final Foundry 50 will be revealed on Wednesday 13th April 2016.

Unilever Foundry is Unilever’s global platform for innovation through collaboration. It provides a single entry point for startups and scaleups to connect with its 400 brands and champions their role in the industry. Its unique 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.