The new platform, dubbed Foundry Ideas, was unveiled during a keynote speech from the brand’s senior vice president of global media, Luis Di Como.
Speaking to Marketing Week after the announcement, Di Como said: “We believe in a world where there is much more collaboration, so we are creating a platform where it’s not a two-way dialogue between Unilever and a start up, it connects everybody.
“We all have the challenge to make sustainability common place. We live in a world with limited resources and we cannot continue living like this.”
The brand is launching the Foundry Ideas platform with three ‘grand challenges’ facing the world today in the areas of sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition. It will bring together consumers, key opinion formers and innovators to co-create solutions to these issues.
The three challenges include how to help 100 million people have access to basic toilet sanitation by 2020, inventing the shower of the future and how to enable millions of mothers and daughters in Africa to embrace more nutritious cooking.
The launch is designed to accelerate the delivery of Unilever’s sustainable living plan, as the process will identify potential partners to scale the solutions with Unilever.
On the platform community members will be able to submit and build on other peoples’ ideas – a process that will be incentivised to encourage collaboration to find solutions to the challenges.
The best solutions to each challenge will be rewarded with opportunities for idea piloting and implementation, one-on-one mentoring with Unilever experts or ‘one of a kind’ experiences that will enable the winners to see for themselves the progress and impact Unilever is making towards its 2020 sustainability goals.
The brand is also embracing the idea of opening up solutions to the wider industry. Unilever recently launched its deodorants in compressed cans using a formula that is more sustainable, and instead of protecting the formula the FMCG giant shared it.
Di Como said: “We want everybody to use it because it is an advantage for the world for the generations to come.”