Five multi-national consumer brands and their marketing agencies have committed funding towards an initiative that claims to be the world's first technology accelerator designed specifically for the advertising and marketing industries.
The programme is called The Bakery
and is based in London's Tech City. Companies are being invited to apply to take part in the competition, with the winning ten concepts receiving commercial contracts with a combined value of $500,000.
Heinz, AB InBev, BMW, Panasonic, Ideal Standard have all signed up to The Bakery, as well as agencies Vizeum, Havas Worldwide, Karmarama, KittCattNohr Digitas and MBA. Additionally, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), The Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) and the UK Trade & Investment are also officially supporting the programme.
We spoke to Richard Morris, managing director of Vizeum, part of the Aegis Group, about the potential of this concept:
How did Vizeum become involved in this accelerator?
I joined the company back in September, and was immediately having key conversations with a number of clients about their desire to connect with technology and innovation. They were really keen on this, so we wanted to find ways to connect our clients with the innovation community. The Silicon Roundabout seemed like the perfect place to go, and through investigation we came across The Bakery. We thought this would be the ideal way to connect our clients to the tech companies there.
After starting a partnership with The Bakery, we notified our clients about it, and thankfully they were interested in signing up. So we have four clients participating: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Heinz, BMW and Panasonic.
Other than funding, what can these multi-nationals bring to the table?
If the right idea is there, that can solve a marketing objective or a business problem, then there will be a genuine investment desire. These brands aren't taking part as a PR exercise. They are committing their time, and so are we, to find real, innovative marketing solutions. It's a brilliant canvas for the startups. If they create ideas that are good enough, then they will be scaled and implemented.
And for Vizeum, what do you stand to gain?
Our brand positioning is predicated on adopting innovations and new technologies across the team. We genuinely want to learn as well. We are open-minded, and it's amazing discovering these companies and working with them. But ultimately, it's about doing better work for our clients.
How will the selection process work in The Bakery?
We expect hundreds to apply, we'll whittle that down to the best 30 (ish), we'll hold a matchmaking day on 26 March to select the final ten that will go into The Bakery for 8 weeks starting 4 April.
Will you be looking to add more brands to the roster over time?
For us, this is just the start. It's a partnership with The Bakery, but we are looking to form partnerships across Tech City. Obviously it's a learning exercise on the role we can play, on how to curate the process, etc. But this isn't a one-off exercise for us.
Contagious has reported on many accelerators in the past, launched by brands such as Telefónica, Nike and Mondelēz International. What can The Bakery offer that these can't?
There's more diversity here. I'm not suggesting that those aren't good ideas, because they are. I believe in the concept of the accelerator programme whole-heartedly. This has government backing, and it allows us to work with more than one brand. With this comes a clear challenge - the objectives of Heinz and Panasonic may be very different - but we look forward to that diversity of challenge within The Bakery.
Why would a multi-national invest time and money into The Bakery, rather than start their own, private accelerator programme?
They could do that. AB InBev, for example, has a beer garage in Palo Alto [California]. From their perspective, we are a trusted partner, and are investing time into this to help with their business objectives. Our endorsement of the programme, combined with government endorsement, works for our clients. But if this is a run-away success then the next stage could well be for them to create their own accelerators within the UK. None of that is confirmed, though, the commitment right now is for this programme.
When can we expect to see an output?
We will update you in 2-3 weeks.