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Unilever Start-up Project Generating Innovation Ideas

Posted: July 22, 2014

Five briefs on the theme of “Internet of Things” has launched via The Unilever Foundry, the company’s single entry-point platform for innovative start-ups seeking to partner with the company. Since launching The Unilever Foundry in May 2014, the platform has received an overwhelming level of engagement from innovative companies, and this is the first time specific Internet of Things briefs have been shared with the start-up community through Unilever.com/foundry.

Marc Mathieu, senior vice president of global marketing for Unilever, explains, “As the world’s second largest advertiser, Unilever is always looking for new ways to engage with our consumers. The Internet of Things is transforming the home, the way we shop and the way people engage with brands. We want to inspire and lead that transformation. We are committed to helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020, and we believe that Internet of Things is an important enabler of helping people take small actions which add up to a big impact.”

The briefs include a few that can be applied to beauty and personal care, including:

  • Smart Bathrooms—Enabling families to plan, organize and enjoy their personal care and grooming regime and products more efficiently is an opportunity through “Smart Bathrooms.” Unilever is looking for innovative technology that has the potential to generate tremendous value for individuals and families in this area and may encompass elements from tools and diagnostics through to the delivery of connected services.
  • Smart Packaging—Smart packaging technology is undergoing a radical transformation, bridging the physical and digital divide at retail. Unilever is looking to incorporate innovative technology into its packaging solutions and ultimately encourage its consumers to have physical and digital experiences that would help build brand engagement in new ways.
  • Smart Wardrobe—Unilever is looking for technology that helps people understand what clothes they have available, the condition of those clothes, and offers what to wear recommendations based on schedules, the weather and other factors. Unilever would like to help people better use and manage their clothing collection more effectively, believing there’s an opportunity to do this through the digital wardrobe.

Briefs are posted on The Unilever Foundry and start-ups are invited to pitch their technology to senior brand leaders. Following a filtering and selection process, at least one company is generally moved forward to launch a paid pilot with Unilever. Successful pilots may then be scaled and new strategic partnerships created. This pitch-pilot-partner process dramatically accelerates Unilever’s speed to market while reducing the cost of experimenting, enabling the company to pioneer new technologies much more effectively and efficiently.