Unilever Foundry takes smart retail startups to the next level
By Digital News Asia June 28, 2019
- 20 startups aiming to revolutionise retail will gather at Innovfest Unbound
- Since 2016, Unilever Foundry has made a pilot investment of US$20 million in SEA
UNILEVER Foundry, Unilever’s global corporate innovation pillar focused on partnering and accelerating innovations across Unilever’s 400+ brands and functions, will bring together 20 of Asia’s most promising startups revolutionising retail at the Unilever Foundry Startup Battle, happening from June 27 to 28 at Innovfest Unbound.
From artificial intelligence to Internet of Things (IoT), technology is accelerating digital transformation in retail with innovations such as smart packaging, multi-channel commerce, image recognition, sensors and digital payments.
Realising the real potential, companies across the region including retailers are increasingly willing to invest more in cutting-edge technologies.
According to Gartner, the global spending on technology in the retail sector is expected to grow 3.6% year-on-year (y-o-y) to reach US$203.6 billion in 2019, with similar growth rates for the next two years.
“As the retail landscape in the region continues to develop and evolve, unprecedented opportunities are available for startups, particularly those who figure out where the biggest opportunities are,” said Unilever Foundry Asia director Barbara Guerpillon.
“From improving livelihoods to creating innovations that matter, smart retail goes beyond just selling and buying, and these startups will show the real impact that they are bringing live on the Unilever Foundry Startup Battle stage.”
Running for the fourth year, Unilever Foundry Startup Battle is one of the key platforms for Unilever to identify potential startups to pilot and partner with across the region.
Previous battle winners have grown significantly over the past few years.
Jumper.ai, winner of the 2017 Startup Battle, is now working with more than five Unilever brands across three markets. The AI-based social commerce enabler startup has also completed its seed round and is now actively preparing for Series A funding.
Jumper.ai co-founder Yash Kotak, said, “It was a great experience and it has given us tremendous exposure by winning the battle. We won the battle in our early days, and that has enabled us to engage clients and refine our product.”
Since its launch in 2016, Unilever Foundry has made a total pilot investment of US$20million in Southeast Asia.
Unilever’s Foundry’s methodology of partnering and helping startups to navigate Unilever has enabled founders to quickly experience real market situations and refine their product-market fit. This has resulted in the roll out of over 200 projects through 34 startups since inception.
“Being part of Unilever Foundry has been a determining factor for the growth of Narratrs. The team is not only driven and focused, but also an invaluable facilitator as well as entry point to the Unilever brands,” said Narratrs founder Laurent Verrier.
“To date, we have collaborated with 16 Unilever brands in nine markets, a testament to the efficiency of the ecosystem that Foundry has created."