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Coty, the global beauty company, is to begin a new technology start-up programme which will offer $100,000 in cash prizes for the best pitches involving artificial intelligence (AI) solutions.

The digital accelerator start-up programme will ultimately see eight companies work with Coty’s brand portfolio which includes GHD, Burberry and Covergirl, and will see a focus placed on a number of digital capabilities including AI.

Dates for submitting AI pitches using one of Coty’s brands will be accepted by 12 March, with a concise description of brand benefit expected, including metrics.

A follow up presentation for potential winners will take place at Coty’s brand leaders Digital Accelerator Summit in London and New York on 27 and 28 March. Prizes will range from between $10k - $50k with strategic support offered by the digital team at Coty.

Publicis media group, Zenith will be involved in summit, working alongside the company’s inhouse agency, Beamly as the business aims to foster its own ‘act like a start-up’ ethos, with AI one of its key priorities for development, explained Jason Forbes, chief digital and media officer for Coty.

 “At Coty, we’re focused on transforming our digital capabilities across the organization, and the launch of the Digital Accelerator represented another step in this transformation. I’m thrilled to take this initiative a step further by bringing external start-ups into the mix. Coty has a growing expertise in partnerships with a breadth of start-ups to drive growth across our brands,” he commented.

Fred Gerantabee, Coty’s VP of digital innovation, added: “Partnerships between Coty and emerging companies such as Beamly and Holition, which launched our first an app free Augmented Reality (AR) experience exclusively for Covergirl, is an indication of how we’d like to bring disruptive new approaches to the market in partnership with unique new players in AI, AR, voice and other rapidly growing technologies. We intend to foster these relationships and looks forward to more examples like this coming out of our Digital Accelerator summits.”

This is the second year of the digital accelerator programme which aims to develop the digital capabilities of Coty overall.