Unilever will invest £100,000 in a UK start-up to be chosen as part of Collider12, a mentoring scheme in which William Hill and BBC Worldwide are also participating.
The scheme will feature 10 companies selected from a panel including executives from William Hill, BBC Worldwide and CBS Outdoor, taking part in a 13-week mentoring scheme and receiving £100,000 investment each.
Unilever Ventures will be awarding one of the companies, which comes up with what it believes is the best 'B2Brand' service or product, an additional £100,000 investment, in what it is calling "the Unilever Challenge".
The FMCG giant will be looking for the start-up which has the "potential to be a game-changer" for key Unilever brands in the way that these brands communicate and interact with their customers via digital channels.
Collider12 is run by investor group Pembridge. It received financial backing from Creative England, a body backed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, and Pembridge's private investors, which include Ingenious.
It is currently open for entries. The closing date is the end of this year, with the scheme kicking off next year.
John Coombs, managing director of Unilever Ventures, said: "There is a revolution in how people are relating to brands and what brands are for their customers, but the biggest revolution is in the types of services that customers can engage with using mobile and social techniques.
"The UK has always been at the forefront of media and marketing communications and we are seeing a lot of innovative start-ups at the moment."
Unilever is following in the footsteps of Kraft, PepsiCo and Telefónica, which have been working with start-ups, via their own incubator and accelerator schemes in recent years.
In an interview with Marketing earlier this year, Ashley Stockwell, guest academy director of Telefónica’s incubator scheme Wayra UK, said that incubator schemes were not right for every brand and that FMCG brands investing in tech start-ups "wouldn't really make sense to me", explaining that Telefónica's investment in start-ups which were mobile focused made sense for the company.
Last week, the advertising industry put its support behind UK start-ups, with nine businesses winning the services of marketing agencies, through a scheme run by the Marketing Agencies Association.
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