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Unilever hits the accelerator on drive towards sustainable growth

Unilever, one of the world’s leading consumer goods companies, has partnered with two seed accelerators to help it collaborate with entrepreneurs to develop new business opportunities.

The company has joined forces with Collider12 and Springboard’s Internet of Things (IoT) to support start-up companies which specialise in digital technology.

It is the first time that Unilever has partnered with accelerator programmes and takes the company’s focus on Open Innovation to the next level by collaborating with entrepreneurs on new business ideas.

Further partnerships are expected to be launched in 2013 and beyond to help the company deliver sustainable growth.

The 12 week acceleration programs offer start-ups seed capital, mentoring and various services to help them shape and incubate their business. At the completion of the intensive programmes, start-ups then pitch their business to Unilever and other investors for follow-on funding.

Unilever’s New Businesses Unit is partnering with Springboard’s Internet of Things Accelerator to identify and support start-up businesses which use in-home connectivity to improve the lives of consumers.

The partnership with Collider12 is focussed on start-ups which help brands communicate and interact with their customers via digital channels. It is being supported by Unilever Ventures.

John Coombs, Managing Director of Unilever Ventures, said: “We have been engaging with start-ups for more than ten years through Unilever Ventures. Partnering with accelerators gives us exposure to a greater number of companies and allows us to support them with mentoring and other services that help fast-track their incubation.

“There is a revolution in how people are engaging with our brands and we’re looking to spearhead that revolution. We want to work closely with these companies to help them develop their capabilities to provide services to big brands like those of Unilever, not just in the UK but around the world.”

Phil Giesler, VP New Businesses Unit, Unilever, said: “There is a huge community of entrepreneurs in the world who are developing the solutions to some of the most difficult challenges that companies like Unilever faces. We want to unlock the value of these inventors by working in partnership with them to make their ideas come to life, and investing in accelerators is an ideal way to make this happen.

“The accelerator start-up model is responsible for starting hundreds of significant businesses, such as Dropbox and Airbnb. We’re on the look-out for entrepreneurs who have the next big idea for the consumer goods industry, and want to work with us to move it forward.”

-ENDS-

Notes for the editor

For more information, please contact Paul Matthews, Unilever Corporate Media Relations Manager on 0207 822 6605 or paul.matthews@unilever.com

Unilever R&D involves over 6,000 professionals, six strategic centres for global R&D and 31 major product development centres. The strategic centres are located in Trumbull, US, Port Sunlight and Colworth in the UK, Vlaardingen in The Netherlands, Bangalore in India and Shanghai in China. In 2011, our investment in R&D was around €1bn.

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This announcement may contain forward-looking statements, including ‘forward-looking statements’ within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as ‘expects’, ‘anticipates’, ‘intends’, ‘believes’ or the negative of these terms and other similar expressions of future performance or results, and their negatives, are intended to identify such forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are based upon current expectations and assumptions regarding anticipated developments and other factors affecting the Group. They are not historical facts, nor are they guarantees of future performance. Because these forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties, there are important factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements, including, among others, competitive pricing and activities, economic slowdown, industry consolidation, access to credit markets, recruitment levels, reputational risks, commodity prices, continued availability of raw materials, prioritisation of projects, consumption levels, costs, the ability to maintain and manage key customer relationships and supply chain sources, consumer demands, currency values, interest rates, the ability to integrate acquisitions and complete planned divestitures, the ability to complete planned restructuring activities, physical risks, environmental risks, the ability to manage regulatory, tax and legal matters and resolve pending matters within current estimates, legislative, fiscal and regulatory developments, political, economic and social conditions in the geographic markets where the Group operates and new or changed priorities of the Boards. Further details of potential risks and uncertainties affecting the Group are described in the Group’s filings with the London Stock Exchange, Euronext Amsterdam and the US Securities and Exchange Commission, including the Group’s Annual Report on Form 20-F for the year ended 31 December 2010. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this document. Except as required by any applicable law or regulation, the Group expressly disclaims any obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in the Group’s expectations with regard thereto or any change in events, conditions or circumstances on which any such statement is based.

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