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Publicis Comms agrees Plexal partnership that scales startup access in London to over 300 companies

Plexal High Street

In order to scale and strengthen its ability to connect corporate clients with the London startup scene, Publicis Communications has begun a new stage in its Drugstore/startup project through the agreement of a partnership to work with innovation hub Plexal.

Publicis Drugstore, the innovation center opened by the advertising group three years ago in Shoreditch, will aim to scale its client offering through the new partnership based at a site on the former Olympic Park.

The £11m development is expected to house up to 800 people and is expected to host to 300 companies.

Startups based there range from specialist capabilities with fintech, virtual reality and artificial intelligence — and will be paired with clients based on the needs of their brands.

Speaking to The Drum, Guy Wieynk, chief executive of Western Europe for Publicis Worldwide explained that the partnership would offer scale beyond the 30+ startups that were involved in the original startup with The Trampery, that he felt would secure credibility with the startup sector as well as offer more choice for his business’ clients.

“We want to be able to work with more startups as it was clear that there was no way that companies were able to answer the diverse problems that our clients face. And through working with Plexal, I have invested into a set of innovation services as well as a huge space which has seen us grow to work with over 300 startups with a wider and more diverse offering,” he stated.

He also revealed that clients such as P&G and Nestle had found success in working with Publicis on the previous Drugstore partnership, which has bolstered belief in growing the project.

“I want us to continue to do what we did before but to do it on steroids,” he added, again underlining the growth in scale of the project.

Initially, six members of staff will be involved from Publicis including Tom Hostler, founding partner of Poke London, Lorenzo Wood, ‎chief innovation officer at Publicis.Sapient and Michael Johnston, innovation director for Publicis Drugstore.

Explaining her own views, Claire Cockerton, chief executive of Plexal told The Drum: “This new partnership will create a space and an open innovation culture that will allow businesses to cross-pollinate, learn from each other and find solutions to their most pressing problems.”

She added that the unique offering of the business was the services it offers; “We are all about getting to know these businesses and helping them with growth and helping them on their journey.”

She also claimed that businesses were struggling to handle democratization and that some startups were now competing with big business which were ‘struggling’ to keep pace with changing consumer habits.

Since the launch of the Publicis Drugstore pilot three years ago, the concept has been rolled out in other parts of the world, including Mexico, Hamburg, Zurich, Shanghai, Mumbai and Sydney in an effort to collaborate with major brands.

Wieynk ruled out the scale of this new partnership as unlikely to suit emulation in other parts of the business with different models of working with startups preferred.