Ab-Inbev, BMW and Heinz are among the first brands to back the launch of a Tech City innovation hub initiative aimed at driving collaboration between digital start-ups, agencies and brands.
The East London-based scheme, called The Bakery, is supported by The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), The Tech City Investment Organisation (TCIO) and the UK Trade & Investment, will cater for the advertising and marketing sectors.
Start-ups which have developed innovative technology, can apply to take part in an "accelerated" competition. For this brands and agencies will provide specific briefs to help start-ups shape their propositions to meet a particular business need. The winner will gain the opportunity to work with a multinational brand who will cover the cost to trial their technology solution.
Ab-Inbev, which owns Stella Artois, Becks and Budweiser, BMW, Heinz, Ideal Standard and Panasonic are the first brands to back the initiative, to which they have committed part of their marketing budgets.
Meanwhile agencies working with the brands in The Bakery include Aegis-owned Vizeum, Havas Worldwide, Karmarama, KittCattNohr Digitas and MBA.
The initiative will comprise events including ‘hack days’ for marketing technologies, presentations on leading advertising techniques and new technologies, and exhibitions of innovation in digital and creative media.
Janet Hull, director of marketing and reputation management at the IPA, said navigating through the maze of start-ups is a challenge for brands and agencies. “There are thousands of start-ups out there now, but this will provide the opportunity to fast track them into the bigger ecosystem, bridging the divide between start-ups and major organisations,” she said.
Marketers must continue to innovate to maintain their competitive edge and keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital landscape, according to Hull. “In this new digital economy we are keen to build our technological ability to service clients’ needs, and to do that we must find new ways to reach the start-ups most relevant for them. It’s where the future competitive edge lies.”
Vizeum managing director Richard Morris said the initiative reflects the increasing demand from agencies and brands to connect with technologically innovative young companies. “Clients are keen to ensure digital innovation is not used as a bolt-on to traditional activity but embedded within it. Innovation is no longer a nice-to-have," he said.
Some fantastic ideas are coming out of start-ups but they are less equipped to put those ideas into action, according to Morris. “This period of convergence is leading to some really exciting changes and the differences between media, communications and sales channels continue to blur. This is a great opportunity to explore how we can connect these channels together,” he said.
Andrew Humphries, co-founder, The Bakery, said access to finance, markets and revenue are “vital” to the growth of innovative technology companies.
“Many accelerator programs exist for the former. The Bakery is the first dedicated program that offers the world's best advertising and marketing tech developers direct access to and mentoring from top brands and agencies so they can get their first big clients quickly. It's an evolution that benefits everyone, the brands and their agencies, the innovators and their investors, and ultimately all of us as consumers,” he said.
The Bakery is also looking to collaborate with similar schemes in other countries including Brazil, which could open up global opportunities for participating start-ups.
Those who wish to enter can do so via the site thebakerylondon.com.