Google, Lazada and WPP Join Unilever Foundry’s LEVEL3 Advisory Board

As Unilever Foundry’s innovation hub passes its one-year milestone, the board commits to core pillars to accelerate the next phase of success

LEVEL3, a co-working space for tech innovation in Singapore created by Unilever Foundry and innovation catalyst, Padang & Co, has announced its new Advisory Board made up of some of the region’s most prominent executives, as well as five strategic pillars to align its focus and boost Unilever’s overall startup engagement in 2018.

Launched in 2015, Unilever Foundry Southeast Asia and Australasia (SEAA), Unilever’s platform for startups and innovators to collaborate with Unilever’s portfolio of more than 400 brands, continues to transform Unilever’s growth model to make sustainable living commonplace. The LEVEL3 team will call on the Advisory Board’s unique set of knowledge and skills to determine areas of focus, identify growth opportunities and leverage industry insights. Together, LEVEL3 and the Advisory Board will build an ever-stronger ecosystem for startups to scale in Singapore and the region. The Advisory Board comprises:

·         Rajan Anandan, Vice President, South East Asia and India, Google

·         Daryl Arnold, Chairman, Newton Circus

·         Maximillian Bittner, Founder and Advisor, Lazada

·         Alan Jope, President, Personal Care, Unilever

·         Pier-Luigi Sigismondi, President, Southeast Asia and Australasia, Unilever

·         Scott Spirit, Chief Digital Officer, WPP

“It is an exciting time for tech startups in Southeast Asia because of the tremendous support and opportunities provided by government organisations and private corporations, however, the fact remains that many startups struggle to scale due to intensifying competition and a dearth of critical resources such as talent, exposure and mentorship,” said Max Bittner, Founder and Advisor, Lazada and LEVEL3 Advisory Board member. “Through our combined experience in navigating the region’s complex business landscape, the Advisory Board is committed to empowering the LEVEL3 team with the insights necessary to succeed in engaging regional startups. To achieve this, we have identified five pillars that will further streamline and boost Unilever’s efforts to collaborate with startups.”

LEVEL3 - which celebrated its first anniversary in February - is unveiling five pillars to focus its startup efforts and work with young companies, likeminded corporates and ecosystem partners to identify and solve challenges in the following high-growth sectors: (1) Marketing and Advertising Technology, (2) Data and Artificial Intelligence, (3) Logistics and Ecommerce, (4) Food and Agriculture Technology, and (5) Sustainable Growth Technology.

As the pillars take shape, Unilever Foundry SEAA and LEVEL3 are already driving innovation for startups in Food and Agriculture (AgriTech), partnering with leaders in global agriculture such as Cargill to leverage opportunities in Southeast Asia. By 2050, the population will be nearly nine billion and global agricultural production will have to escalate by 60 percent-110 percent. Estimated to support the food needs of 60 percent of the global population, Asia will require advanced technology for sustainable agricultural growth. In Singapore, stringent food safety standards; deep expertise in biotech and precision engineering; capabilities in plant sciences and farming systems; and strong intellectual property protection makes it an ideal test-bed for the food and AgriTech sector.

With Cargill, LEVEL3 startups can develop pilots and receive unprecedented mentorship and visibility into the needs of stakeholders in the agriculture and food sectors. LEVEL3 is also boosting its collaborations with agriculture technology accelerators in the region, such as SproutX - supported by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) - to create greater awareness for the sector and grow the regional ecosystem.

“Cargill’s purpose is to nourish the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way and technology is critical to achieving that purpose. We are committed to working closely with Unilever Foundry SEAA to support innovation in the food and agriculture sector,” said Keith Narr, Vice President, Global IT, Cargill, Inc.” LEVEL3 has already made a big impact and difference to the regional startup community, and we are confident this partnership will also greatly benefit startups working in AgriTech.”

“As the technology, media, marketing and consumer landscapes in Southeast Asia continue to develop and evolve, unprecedented opportunities are abound for both startups and corporations alike,” added Barbara Guerpillon, Head of Unilever Foundry SEAA and LEVEL3. “Unilever Foundry has made significant strides in leveraging the region’s growth potential to drive startup innovation, particularly with LEVEL3 which has led to many successful collaborations. Our success to date in AgriTech is only the beginning of what we can achieve, guided by our strategic pillars.

“With support from the Advisory Board and our ever-growing network of corporate and ecosystem partners, Unilever Foundry and LEVEL3 will continue to be driving forces of innovation and collaboration for Unilever.”

LEVEL3’s corporate partners include WPP, Microsoft, Deloitte, Cargill and Mitsubishi Bank (MUFG). LEVEL3 also continues to explore collaboration with tech ecosystem players such as Google and Lazada.