“We’re living in an interesting time where the rate of innovation around the world is exploding, and a company that is dependent upon innovation within their four walls is ultimately going to fail,” Peter Diamandis, executive chairman of Singularity University and CEO of the X Prize Foundation, told the The Wall Street Journal in December. In other words, it should come as no surprise that a titan like Disney wants to invest in your startup.
Last year, a bevy of corporations launched accelerators offering opportunities for entrepreneurs. Here are six of the most intriguing programs:
Microsoft announced Microsoft Ventures in June, offering startups “office space, mentorship, and $60,000 of Windows Azure [Microsoft’s cloud platform] credits,” according to the Journal. The company didn’t reveal how much its total investment pool was, but it was clear it was taking real interest in its startups. Microsoft Ventures includes BizMark, a three- to six-month accelerator program that resembles a startup bootcamp, and Bing Fund, which provides seed funding to early-stage companies.
Target opened its innovation center, based in San Francisco, in May. “Retail is undergoing a major revolution and technology is more strategic than ever,” Beth Jacob, executive vice president and chief information officer at Target, tells the Journal. The center focuses on emerging mobile and wearable technologies, as well as any other innovations with the potential to enhance customers’ digital experience.
Coca-Cola created the Coca-Cola Accelerator Program last August with the motto that “we all win when startups move to scaleups.” Rather than invest in promising startups, the incubator focuses on “co-designing, collaborating, and building with startups, and bringing our ability to scale and our amazing assets together,” says vice president of innovation David Butler. The beverage company’s accelerators are based in cities including Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bangalore, Berlin, Singapore, and Istanbul.
General Electric may be known as an engineering behemoth, but it also has an eye on sustainable health and wellness initiatives. Last spring it announced it was opening Healthyimagination, a $6 billion accelerator dedicated to making health care more accessible and affordable worldwide. The program launched in April in partnership withStartUp Health, a community focused on building 1,000 sustainable health and wellness companies over the next decade.
Nike opened its worldwide headquarters to 10 startups last spring in partnership with TechStars. The Nike+ Fuel Lab lasts 12 weeks and offers $50,000 to each “team,” as well as mentorship and opportunities to showcase your product. The accelerator’s focus is on digital companies that can bring an edge to the sportswear maker’s Nike+ and NikeFuel products.