This year’s Lions Innovation Festival programme will include a unique Start-up Academy, developed in partnership with pioneering global digital agency, R/GA.

Places will be awarded to two representatives from up to ten hand-picked start-ups. They'll receive complimentary accommodation and passes to the Festival, take part in a programme of intensive mentorship and get an exclusive introduction to the community of leading creatives, senior marketers and high-level decision-makers that the Festival attracts.

The Start-up Academy has been designed to help innovative new companies sharpen their brand identity, focus business plans and, says Head of Lions Innovation, Rob Dembitz, market their products or services more effectively.

“Start-ups are integral to the industry. But what those in the early to mid-stages of development often need to take the next step is guidance on how to position themselves to the world’s biggest brands. As the global meeting place for those in marketing and communications, we’re ideally placed to provide access to that expertise.”

In the last two years R/GA has successfully facilitated the development of start-ups through its own programme, the R/GA Accelerator. They will tap into this experience to help tailor the academy programme, vet applicants and advise participants.

“Our experience with the community has shown that what start-ups need most is help with strategy, positioning and exposure to key decision makers,” said Stephen Plumlee, Global Chief Operating Officer, EVP, R/GA. “By bringing talented companies to Lions Innovation, we’re giving them access to mentors, creatives and marketers that have the ability to transform their businesses.”

Paul Woolmington has been appointed Dean of the Start-up Academy. Named one of the ten most creative people in marketing and advertising by Fast Company, he was behind the launch of two successful communications companies, is an angel investor and advisor to major brands, media companies, governments, start-ups and social cause organisations worldwide.

"I’m honoured to be a part of this first-of-its-kind programme,” said Mr Woolmington of his appointment. “The Start-up Academy will provide amazing inspiration and access for the cream of the world's start-ups, but also a much-needed bridge to the future for brands, media companies and agencies.”

Over three days, participants will undertake workshops with senior marketers and intimate, inspirational sessions with speakers drawn directly from the stages of Lions Innovation. The programme will culminate in an invitation-only demo event where they’ll pitch to an exclusive audience of media, agency executives, chief executives, innovation and marketing officers.

“The Start-up Academy is an amazing opportunity for the most talented innovators to be in exactly the right place, at the right time, getting the right advice to help them take their next step,” concluded Mr Dembitz.

Applications to the Start-up Academy are now open to companies at early-stage to growth-stage with a working prototype or product in the market, looking to accelerate their growth through partnerships with consumer-focused brands. Sample technologies include (but are not limited to) mobile and social applications, CRM/loyalty services, brand and consumer experiences, cashless commerce, social currency, connected retail and commerce, beacons and customer tracking, augmented and virtual reality, new media platforms and content management systems, enterprise solutions and gaming.

Successful applicants will need to be in Cannes from Sunday 21 June. They will take part in the Start-up Academy from 22 June – 24 June and attend Lions Innovation 25 – 26 June. Accommodation will also be provided for the duration.

Further information can be found here.

Lions Innovation, 25 – 26 June, Cannes France
Lions Innovation explores data and technology as catalysts for creativity in communications and celebrates the work leading the way. Held during Cannes Lions, this intense, inspiring “festival within The Festival” will ignite ideas and initiate the partnerships that bring them. It includes two days of talks, demonstrations and networking events and culminates in the awarding of Innovation Lions and the inaugural Creative Data Lions.

About R/GA
R/GA, the company for the Connected Age, develops products, services and communications to grow our clients’ brands and businesses. Founded in 1977, the agency has been a pioneer at the intersection of technology, design and marketing with work spanning web, mobile, and social communications, retail and e-commerce, product innovation, brand development and business consulting. R/GA has more than 1,400 employees globally with offices across the United States, Europe, South America, and Asia-Pacific and is part of The Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE:IPG), one of the world’s largest advertising and marketing services organizations. R/GA is a member of the GAN (, a network of the world's most respected accelerators and organizations in support of the startup ecosystem. For more information on R/GA, please visit