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Irish Times FUSION Startups Stir Up the Ad Industry

29/05/2013 14:19 BST | Updated 28/07/2013 10:12 BST

Irish Times FUSION, a new experiment at Ireland's paper of record, is underway.

20 startups have been introduced into the 154 year old newspaper's building, selected from over 100 applicants. The experiment is an attempt to find new forms of advertising from startup consumer experiences, with an emphasis on startups that are not advertising-focused.

Fusion: non-advertising startups meet the advertising industry

"Fusion" refers to an attempt to connect two sets of needs. Startups need to reach consumers. The advertising and branding industry, which has the enormous consumer reach that startups need, is searching for new forms of digital advertising. Because the startups are focussed on providing compelling user experiences, rather than advertising channels, the resulting brand experience should be novel. And by matching the energy of the startup community with the enormous market access of the branding and advertising world, the experiment should, it is hoped, breathe new life into the industry while promising startups a healthy injection of revenue.

Irish Times' FUSION is a follow up to last year's Irish Times Digital Challenge, an initial experiment with early stage digital startups that the media organisation ran in 2012. Since then other media outlets including the BBC and The New York Times have begun to work with startups. This is part of a broader innovation strategy at The Irish Times as we strive to reform for the digital era.

And along the way in Irish Times FUSION we are working with The Financial Times, The Boston Globe, and the international media (through WAN-IFRA, an association of 18,000+ outlets) to provide the participating startups with the widest possible base for growth and validation. We have the top deck of the advertising and branding industry participating too: The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and Contagious are both participating in the selection process. The final startups will pitch to the leaders of the global advertising and media industry in Dublin on 14 June, just in advance of The Cannes Lions.

20 startups enter The Irish times

The 20 shortlisted startups entered The Irish Times at the start of a six week experiment to work with leading advertising creatives, including Eoghan Nolan of Brand Artillery and Pearse McCaughey of Cawley/Nea, to develop and refine their pitches.

After a three day period of creative workshops the initial shortlist of 20 startups started an accelerated version of the NDRC LaunchPad, ranked Ireland's number one incubator by the Kauffman Foundation. The startups have one week to prepare for the pitch to an industry panel that will decide which final ten startups of the shortlisted twenty will proceed to the next stage of the process.