Unilever Foundry has co-launched the Level3 collaborative workspace, together with an innovation catalyst company Padang & Co.
The Level3 name is a symbolic representation of large corporations and small startups taking their collaboration "to the next level", said Derrick Chiang, CEO of Padang & Co. That next level, specifically, is about creating an ecosystem where people solve problems together, focusing on marketing tech, adtech, enterprise tech, products and food ingredients, new business model innovations and social impact.
Built within the Unilever regional headquarters in Singapore, the 22,000-square-foot workspace provides proximity to Unilever brands and functions, and access to existing Unilever Foundry programmes.
Such a setup is, in fact, a global first for the British-Dutch consumer goods brand.
To date, 15 startups have signed up to establish themselves in-house at Level3, including Adludio, ConnectedLife, Datacraft, EcoHub, GetCRAFT, Next Billion, Olapic, Snapcart, TaskSpotting and Try and Review, of which some are already Unilever Foundry members working on brand briefs.
For these startups, because Singapore does not offer a single big captive market like China, partnering with multinational corporations like Unilever is a springboard to scale and build more successful businesses, commented Serguei Netessine, the Timken Chaired Professor of Global Technology and Innovation at INSEAD and research director at the INSEAD-Wharton alliance.
"In the past, even if large corporates are working together with startups, they want to talk to only large-enough startups," Netessine said at the launch event this morning. "Nowadays, corporates are willing to talk to very early-stage startups."
For Unilever, such physical proximity offers "a direct connection with disruptive technologies and changemakers to shape the way we work,” added Pier Luigi Sigismondi, president for Southeast Asia and Australasia at Unilever.
To Singapore, Level3 represents an "emerging corporate innovation model, " said Dr Beh Swan Gin, chairman of Singapore Economic Development Board, which is aligned with EDB’s efforts.