Unilever unveils sustainable start-up finalists for Foundry 50 competition

Consumer goods giant Unilever's innovation platform has included businesses that incorporate emerging sustainable business models as finalists of the Foundry 50 competition which searches for the world's top 50 marketing technology start-ups.

Each start-up selected as a Unilever Foundry 50 finalist was measured against one of five categories – such as social and sustainability impact – which recognises businesses with new and innovative ideas that help brands and individuals to become more sustainable.

The Foundry 50 will showcase their technology and pitch their solutions to brand and agency leaders from around the world at the Foundry 50 Innovation Hub at Lions Innovation in Cannes on 21 and 22 June.

“The Foundry 50 embody Unilever’s commitment to innovation and our ambition to reinvent the future of marketing,” Unilever marketing senior vice president Aline Santos said. “Lions Innovation brings together the best of the industry and by partnering with the festival we will provide start-ups with unrivalled access to the global elite of the marketing and advertising world.

“Start-ups are the future of our industry and by creating opportunities like the Foundry 50 and working together, we can pave the way for consumers and brands.”

Neighbourly love

Among the list of start-ups in the social impact category is sustainable enterprise WeFarm, a free peer-to-peer service that enables farmers to share information via SMS, without the internet and without having to leave their farm.

Also in contention is behaviour change online platform Do Nation, aimed at making it easier to raise pledges to sustainable initiatives. These initiatives will be competing against Neighbourly, a social media platform which has already worked with M&S and Heineken to connect local community projects to companies to facilitate food redistribution.

Unilever Foundry is Unilever’s global platform for innovation through collaboration which provides an entry point for start-ups and scale ups to connect with its 400 brands and champions their role in the industry.

Crowdsourcing campaign

The Foundry 50 competition is just one of several initiatives undertaken by the consumer goods giant as an approach to tackling global sustainability issues. Unilever Foundry recently formed a partnership with crowdfunding site Indiegogo to give social entrepreneurs the means to submit innovative solutions to sustainability challenges raised by Unilever brands.

The crowdfunding campaign built on the range of ideas submitted as part of Unilever’s global innovation crowdsourcing campaign. An iron-deficiency educational programme and a water-saving shower were among the concepts that have since been incorporated into Unilever’s operational systems

In an edie exclusive, the managing director of crowdfunding platform Abundance Generation stated that crowdfunding is emerging as one of the best sources of investment for renewable projects looking for long-term funding, and a viable alternative to bank lending.

George Ogleby

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