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Unilever to crowdsource business ideas and collaborate with innovators

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The Unilever Foundry is the innovation and startup-centric arm of the consumer goods firm, which was designed to support technology ventures with mentoring and investment opportunities.

Indeed, on 27 February, we reported that the company had teamed with parenting startup Funifi to teach children that cleaning and chores can be enjoyable via a mobile app.

Now, Unilever has introduced the Foundry Ideas project, which will crowdsource new business concepts from innovators and designers to serve as a central hub to organise collaborative projects.

The aim is to drive sustainable business growth with innovation, while Unilever has claimed the platform will “allow the business to increase its use as an idea-generation mechanism tenfold by 2020.”

Marc Mathieu, SVP of global marketing, Unilever, said: “In 2009, we announced an ambition to double our business by 2020 whilst reducing our environmental impact. Enabling our Sustainable Growth ambition requires that we invite and harness capabilities and ideas from everywhere.

“Through Unilever Foundry Ideas, we’re creating a platform that allows us to engage with innovators, creatives, designers and anyone with a novel idea. Although crowdsourcing is not a new concept to Unilever, our ambition is that by 2020 Unilever will leverage crowdsourced ideas ten-times more than we do today.”

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The company added crowdsourcing has been part of the business for several years and that it has collaborated with various partners along the way. An example of that was when its brand Cornetto teamed with Mofilm; a platform that connects filmmakers and brands for crowdsourced creative materials.

Together, the Cornetto ‘Cupidity’ campaign was developed, running as a series of short films – viewed over 500m times – centred on teenage love stories with the ambition of connecting with youngsters in today’s social media age

Building on the collaboration plans for ideas, Unilever also wants startups to bring creative tools that can help developments.

As an incentive to bring companies forward, the Foundry has launched two new briefs worth $100,000 through its Pilot pitching programme:

  • Ideas for incentivising consumer advocates to create content for their brands.
  • Startups that can automate how brands discover and harvest quality user-generated content.

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