Y&R's Collaborative Incubator Program Expands With 9 Participating Startups
Akia Mitchell, Y&R's global director of innovation
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Y&R’s SparkPlug program, a collaborative incubator that connects global companies committed to creating rich brand experiences and powerful storytelling, has assembled a class of nine growth-stage startups at Y&R’s New York headquarters. This year’s program has just gotten underway and will continue for six months.

SparkPlug is a living lab where ideas and technologies are shared to spur new and impactful ways for Y&R clients to reach consumers. Launched in 2011, SparkPlug is open to companies worldwide and has helped develop successful companies such as Eko (formerly Interlude) and Hyperactive.

Up from five participating companies in the last round, the startups taking part in the 2018 New York program are:

  • Headliner Labs – A messaging and chatbot platform for the world’s top media, luxury and retails companies.
  • LoweKey – A mobile startup studio that integrates advertising opportunities and in-app purchasing to native user experiences.
  • NationLab – A data visualization installation inspired by Y&R’s BAV and U.S. News’ Best Countries report.
  • OmniVirt - A virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-degree video advertising platform for brands and publishers. Formats run across all platforms and across screens (desktop, mobile, tablet and VR headsets).
  • Plus 1 – A social media content house that drives engagement with innovative content, influencer marketing and event programming.
  • Skitish Media – A digital agency transforming stand-up comedians into a creative army to produce engaging, viral campaigns to generate tangible conversions.
  • Steereo – A music distribution network that utilizes rideshare vehicles to help emerging artists gain new listeners and fans.
  • StormX – A gamified micro-task platform that rewards engagement with STORM tokens, a new cryptocurrency.
  • Wolox – An innovation studio with Internet of Things, mobile, UX/UI and AI capabilities.

Companies reside in Y&R’s New York office for six months as they further develop their products and services. Y&R offers companies access to branding, design, strategic marketing capabilities and more, while they simultaneously explore business opportunities with agency account teams. Companies will also participate in demo days with Y&R executives and industry leaders.

“SparkPlug is rooted in the exchange of knowledge, technologies and consumer understanding between Y&R and today’s cutting edge companies. We are excited to welcome a new group of companies to be part of the largest and most diverse group we’ve had yet in the SparkPlug program. With the exciting solutions each of these startups bring to the table, we expect this year’s dynamic eco-system to deliver creative, relevant and innovative collaborations within Y&R and with our clients,” said Akia Mitchell, global director of innovation.   

Key participants in SparkPlug 2017 included Raiserve, Instapanel, TINT, Uru and Vyrill, focused on new business pitches and BAV research, and were involved in the launch of Y&R Inspire Change. Now departing from the program; TINT plans to expand operations into Europe and Asia, Vyrill was named best startup of 2017 at NYAd Tech and Uru cofounder Brunno Attorre was recently named among Forbes 30 Under 30.

In addition to the New York program, SparkPlug is also currently running at Y&R Singapore.


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