US corporation Procter & Gamble announced Tuesday a new innovation hub dubbed the Israel-Cincinnati Innovation Venture. Jerusalem Venture Partners, OurCrowd, and Vintage will be collaborating with P&G on the project alongside US grocery company Kroger, GE, and Fifth Third Bank.
The Cincinnati-based program gives five Israeli startups an “unusual opportunity” to pilot new solutions with a multitude of sponsoring corporate investors, chosen from a final list of 20 contenders. The program will cover a wide breadth of industries from fintech to cyber security to big data. The program hopes to have its five teams named by mid-December and the program rolling by February.
“Meeting the right person in corporates can initially be impossible — having the right decision maker and the right supporter, in order to be productive,” remarked Sigal Mendelevitch, leader of global IT innovation at P&G, to Geektime. “I think what we have in mind is that corporates aren’t necessarily used to working with startups. There’s a big opportunity for corporates.”
Kroger has a particular interest in point-of-sale systems (POS), while the Cincinnati Children Hospital Medical Center is also looking at collaborations, which could be good news for any healthtech companies in the final round of consideration for P&G’s trials.
Fifth Third Bank is one of the 20 biggest banks in the US with more than 19,000 employees according to the company. Other corporates with HQs in the Greater Cincinnati area include chemical manufacturer and F500 Ashland, Inc., Mistubishi, Toyota Boshuku America, and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America.
Cincinnati isn’t exactly lacking for its own startup opportunities, though. Accelerators include the seed stage Brandery program, four-month-long manufacturing-focused First Batch, and data-driven startup center UpTech. A map from the Martin Prosperity Institute implies that Cincinnati is about on par with nearby Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh in terms of venture capital.
So what drew P&G to Israel rather than Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, or Cincinnati? They tell Geektime it was the company’s impression that Israelis were far more agile in their thinking and willingness to travel to make things happen. That enables P&G and its Cincinnati corporate community to have the five chosen startups operate nearby for the duration of the 4-6 weeks the trials will last.
“I think whats really unique is the commitment for running five pilots,” Ophir Guttman, General Manager of P&G Israel, told Geektime. “Instead of the regular delegations that Israelis are used to that usually don’t materialize into something concrete, in this case you have five winners who will be able to run a fully-funded pilot for Fortune 500 companies (F500s).”
But that isn’t all. To have so many companies coordinating together, almost like an alliance of major software companies behind an open source project, is an achievement in and of itself.
“What is unique here is the partnership between the Fortune 500s,” he said. “If Procter & Gamble were on its own, I don’t know if it would have been able to commit to all five.”