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On 18 September we launched a platform called Uni-Excubator in China. It’s a digitally driven incubator designed to collaborate with entrepreneurs, innovators and technology start-ups in China.
“This is a real first of its kind – for Unilever as well as in China,” says Rahul Welde, Executive Vice President of Digital Business in Unilever’s Beauty and Personal Care division.
“We are incredibly excited about the launch and the vast array of new opportunities it presents. It’s built with a spirit of co-creation and is a very different model from the norm. We want to build a new ecosystem of innovation, leveraging technology and collaborating with new partners,” Rahul adds.
Our first external incubator
Built for digitally native brands and powered by artificial intelligence, digital tools, and tech, the Uni-Excubator is set to be a win-win – for Unilever, for start-ups and for all our partners.
Innovation is a key pillar for growth and this new platform will power a boundless eco-system that brings together the best of Unilever’s capabilities with ideas from entrepreneurs and start-ups. It is an entirely new way of looking at innovation, growth, and value creation.
“We chose China to be the launch market for our first external incubator, as it has one of the most advanced technology-led eco-systems in the world, and is an important priority market for our beauty and personal care business. We are keen to create more ‘made-in-China’ brands and the Uni-Excubator will be a key platform,” says Sunny Jain, President of Unilever’s Beauty and Personal Care division.
As part of the launch, we are partnering with Tmall, the online platform for eCommerce giant Alibaba Group. Tmall is also hosting the Uni-Excubator’s flagship store, Uni-Topia Planet, which will showcase exclusive new beauty and personal care products and drive sales through its channel.
This means start-ups gain access not only to Unilever’s insights, expertise in sustainability, technology, products, factories, and distribution networks, but also to Tmall’s retail opportunities and marketing support.
Paving the way for growth
More than 40 start-ups have already shown interest, with 20 already registered, across a range of beauty and personal care categories. By using Uni-Excubator to access Unilever’s technologies, factory resources and market research data, start-ups will be able to accelerate development cycles – and bring products to market faster than ever.
“We are constantly in pursuit of innovation,” says Rohit Jawa, Executive Vice President of Unilever North Asia.
“As an established player, we want to use a new approach and empower small and medium-sized brand entrepreneurs to create great brands,” he adds.
Our Hefei site in China has become our second facility in nine months – alongside the Dubai Personal Care factory – to join the World Economic Forum’s network of Lighthouse factories, shaping the future of manufacturing through digital technologies.
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