BBC Worldwide CEO Tim Davie has said he believes that failing to engage with startups could prove disastrous to large organisations.
“The truth is that it’s fatal for businesses like us not to understand what’s really happening in terms of the speed of change in this market,” said Davie last week.
The remark was made by Davie as BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, hosted a party to celebrate the successes of the six startups on its current Labs programme.
Now in its third year, the six-month accelerator programme is designed for emerging digital media companies in the UK that are compatibile with BBC Worldwide’s business values.
This year’s cohort of six moved into BBC Worldwide’s London headquarters in April. Since then, Labs programme manager Hannah Blake has ensured that they’ve recevied support and guidance from industry experts and mentors around the organisation.
“The BBC is a great playground for creative work,” said Davie, before going on to offer advice to startups on the programme. “Keep hustling, keep meeting people, keep building a network,” he said. “We’re here hopefully a nice host and someone who will provide a leaping off point for some of you."
Startups in BBC Labs get free office space and access to the BBC network but they don't get the funding that many other accelerator programmes offer. For example, Barclays offers startups £12,000 in seed funding when they accept a place on its accelerator programme and Startupbootcamp offers €15,000. However, unlike many other accelerator programmes, BBC Worldwide does not take any equity in the business.
While BBC Worldwide does not offer any funding, it appears to be doing a good job of actually integrating new technologies across the organisation, having signed a number of deals with startups that have been enrolled in its Labs programme.
For example, it’s using CrowdEmotion’s facial recognition software to gage how BBC audiences around the world are responding to its content and it's also used Future Ad Labs gamified advertising platform as an alternative to paywalls.
CrowdEmotion CEO Matthew Celuszak told Techworld that being part of the BBC Labs programme has helped CrowdEmotion go from a £2 million company to a £20 million company.
However, two other entrepreneurs on the programme said it could be improved if certain things were less bureaucratic.