The multinational soft drinks leader has added corporate partners Mercedes-Benz, owned by German-based Daimler AG, and Turner Broadcasting, a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc. (TWX), in a joint effort to mentor startups in return for early access to new technology. (See also: New CEO: Coca-Cola Has 'Outgrown' Namesake Drink.)
Bridge Program Enlists New Startups
Coca-Cola’s center of tech innovation will host a new roster of startup participants this week, in its program which has mentored a total of 29 young companies mainly out of New York City and Tel Aviv, Israel.
The new Coke Bridge program follows a trend of corporate-backed venture capital interests working alongside internal research and development (R&D) groups as they seek to get on board with the technology swiftly disrupting their industries. “Coca-Cola’s effort brings together three diverse players in Atlanta, with some common technology interests,” stated Coca-Cola’s Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Architect Alan Boehme.
The six-month program’s new participants will range from early stage to growth startups, with software solutions that are “ready to commercialize” within one of five core themes including Consumer Engagement, Consumer Retail, Supply Chain, Marketing Innovation and Health & Wellness. Along with offering young companies guidance through in-depth marketing training, general mentorship and access to Coke’s corporate sponsors, the startups will be given the opportunity to pilot within Coca-Cola and license products to the beverage maker and its partners.
Unlike some incubators which entail equity or intellectual property (IP) ownership from the startups, the Bridge program lacks any such requirements, demonstrating Coca-Cola’s commitment to nurturing innovation in the food and beverage industry with the intention of adopting the technology before competitors. (See also: Food Giants Pour Money into Startups.)