Staff Reporters
Apr 22, 2015

Lions Innovation and R/GA to launch Startup Academy

A new element of this year's Cannes Lions Innovation Festival, the academy will bring representatives from 10 startup companies to Cannes for an intensive program of mentorship and the chance to pitch to the senior leaders attending the festival.

Paul Woolmington will serve as dean
Paul Woolmington will serve as dean

Developed in partnership with global digital agency R/GA, the program will award places to two representatives from up to 10 hand-picked startups, who will receive complimentary accommodation and passes to the festival. 

The Academy has been designed to help innovative new companies sharpen their brand identity, focus business plans and, according to Rob Dembitz, Head of Lions Innovation, market their products or services more effectively.

Angel investor and advisor Paul Woolmington has been appointed dean of the Startup Academy. Named one of the 10 most creative people in marketing and advertising by Fast Company, he has launched two successful communications companies and serves as an advisor for major brands, media companies, governments, startups and social organisations.

"I’m honoured to be a part of this first-of-its-kind programme,” Woolmington said. “The Startup Academy will provide amazing inspiration and access for the cream of the world's startups, but also a much-needed bridge to the future for brands, media companies and agencies.”

“Startups are integral to the industry," Dembitz said. "But what those in the early to mid-stages of development often need to take the next step is guidance on how to position themselves to the world’s biggest brands. As the global meeting place for those in marketing and communications, we’re ideally placed to provide access to that expertise.”

R/GA has been facilitating the development of startups through its own programme, the R/GA Accelerator for the last two years and will call on this experience to help tailor the academy programme, vet applicants and advise participants.

“Our experience with the community has shown that what startups need most is help with strategy, positioning and exposure to key decision makers,” said Stephen Plumlee, global chief operating officer and EVP with R/GA. “By bringing talented companies to Lions Innovation, we’re giving them access to mentors, creatives and marketers that have the ability to transform their businesses.”

The program will include three of workshops with senior marketers and inspirational sessions with speakers from Lions Innovation. After that, the participants will get to pitch to an exclusive audience of media, agency executives, chief executives, innovation and marketing officers.

Applications to the Startup Academy are now open to companies from early stage to growth stage, that have with a working prototype or product in the market and are looking to accelerate their growth through partnerships with consumer-focused brands. Sample technologies include (but are not limited to) mobile and social applications, CRM/loyalty services, brand and consumer experiences, cashless commerce, social currency, connected retail and commerce, beacons and customer tracking, augmented and virtual reality, new media platforms and content management systems, enterprise solutions and gaming.

Successful applicants will need to be in Cannes from Sunday 21 June. They will take part in the Startup Academy from 22 through 24 June and attend Lions Innovation from 25 through 26 June.

Image source: Spikes Asia video

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