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Overview
What type of business is a good fit for the Unilever Foundry?

The Unilever Foundry is for start-ups and scale-ups who want to partner with Unilever brands and functions and help them solve some exciting challenges.

How Should I get Involved?
  • If you have a proven technology or product which has been tested in market and you are looking to partner with us, take a look at our opportunities and apply to pitch your startup and pilot with us. A successful pilot will help to improve your chances of receiving investment from Unilever Ventures.

  • If you’re a well-established company, looking for serious venture funding to support your growth ambitions – apply for Investment. Please see Unilever Ventures. for more details.

Does Unilever have a Venture Capital team?

Yes. Unilever Ventures invests in opportunities that are of strategic relevance to Unilever, including digital marketing, digital media, and eCommerce. Unilever Ventures would consider investing in relevant companies who are partnering with The Unilever Foundry's in the context of one of our Open Challenges.

Can participating companies be selected to run a project with more than one brand or business support function?

Unilever Foundry seeks to pair different companies with different brands. However, our brands reserve the right to select any company, so there is a possibility that a participant could work with multiple brands. In instances where the pilot is successful and the technology scalable, our ambition is that those companies will then have the opportunity to partner with multiple Unilever brands across markets.

Can companies pitch their startup to Unilever Foundry and for Investment simultaneously?

Yes, you can pilot a project with the Unilever Foundry while engaging with Unilever Ventures. Companies who participate in a successful pilot will furthermore enhance their chances of receiving Unilever Ventures investment.

Will my company receive Investment from Unilever?

If you are successful in pitching your startup to Unilever Foundry, we may pay for the pilot up to the amount stated on the brief page. If no amount is stated then it will be agreed between the startup and the brand or function. The amount is intended to help cover the cost of developing the pilot, which we hope will result in a successful longer-term partnership with Unilever.

For Investments, please find out more from Unilever Ventures.

Geography
Where is the Unilever Foundry team based?

The team is headquartered in London, UK with a presence in Singapore, New York, India, Brazil and China.

Do participating companies need to be on-site in the Pilot market?

No. Start-up companies can manage the pilots remotely without a physical office location in the pilot market. But participating companies are encouraged to spend some time in the market, particularly at the beginning of the pilot.

Does Unilever provide office space for start-ups?

Unilever Foundry offers co-working space located in our offices in Singapore. This is available to any start-up; there is no obligation to work with Unilever, but start-ups need to be involved in our 6 areas of focus: Sustainability & Social Entrepreneurs, Marketing, Ad-Tech & Ecommerce, Enterprise Tech, Product & Ingredients, Consumer and Market Intelligence and Disruptive Business Models. We offer options from hot-desking to private office suite plus additional perks for start-ups working with Unilever Foundry. For more information, pricing or to book a seat contact Barbara.guerpillon@unilever.com

Application Process
Can you explain the Application process?

You will need to answer questions about your company, team and fit with the challenge at hand. Applications are subject to Unilever Foundry and associated partner’s terms and conditions.

To apply for investments please find out more from Unilever Ventures.

Do you need to see a Business plan?

No. Please just complete the online application.

Is it mandatory to pitch in person to respond to an Open Challenge?

The first step is to respond to the brief online. Shortlisted start-up companies are encouraged to then pitch in person to the relevant Unilever team. We realise, however, that this might not always be possible for some companies, so we will set up video conference for remote presentations where required.

We do not offer the opportunity to pitch via video conference to our senior business leaders at industry events.

When do I need to apply by and what is the overall timeline?
  • Our brands and support functions issue internal briefs throughout the year, all of which fall into one of the following six categories: Products & Ingredients, Consumer & Market Intelligence, Marketing, Adtech & e-Commerce, Social & Sustainability Tech, Enterprise Tech and Disruptive Business models.

  • When you respond to a challenge, there is a process that your application will go through. All applications will be channeled to one of Unilever’s trusted third party partners (“scouts”). The scouts will store submissions securely and confidentially and will review all applications independently. Scouts will pass on a shortlist of successful submissions to Unilever. Submissions not successful will be securely discarded by the scouts. Please do not share any confidential information on your application.

  • Following the application, all applicants will be contacted and informed as to whether they have been shortlisted to collaborate with the Unilever Foundry and pilot with one of Unilever brands or support functions.

How detailed does my application need to be for projects?

In this initial application process, we ask applicants to describe their market opportunity, team, existing product offering, and relevance to a Unilever brand or support function. Please do not reveal proprietary technologies or confidential information as part of your application.

CAN WE APPLY TO PITCH OUR STARTUP IF OUR COMPANY OR FOUNDERS COME FROM OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES, UK OR SINGAPORE?

Absolutely. Anyone from anywhere can apply to pitch their startup. The Foundry offers opportunities to connect business start-ups to global markets, in partnership with our global brands and global support functions.

FINANCIAL OUTCOMES
What happens if my start-up’s application is successful and we get to pilot with a brand or support function?

There is no guarantee of further engagement with Unilever after a pilot. But our ambition is that successful pilots will enable broader collaboration with Unilever, potentially spanning multiple markets and brands.

How can start-up partners receive funding after a project ends?

Unilever has a venture capital group called Unilever Ventures which, among other things, invests in digital marketing companies. Unilever Ventures will consider investing in start-up partners that have piloted with a Unilever brand or support function.

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