Innovation station

1915 Studios helps launch startups

Posted on May 31, 2021 :: New North
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Innovation is not only an integral part of success for startups but also for mature companies. That’s the idea behind 1915 Studios, a partnership between Georgia-Pacific and gener8tor.

As part of the program, which is housed at GP’s Neenah Technical Center, early-stage companies working on products related to hygiene, Internet of Things and sensing follow the model of gener8tor’s gBETA program. 

The five selected companies participate in a 12-week program with intensive and individualized coaching as well as the necessary tools to prototype and build their products, gauge early customer interest and establish metrics that make them competitive applicants for full-time accelerators or seed investment.

“As a company, we’re working on technology and how that can be incorporated in the business,” says Darin Driessen, director of R&D Open Innovation at GP and managing director of 1915 Studios.

He says the company was looking for a way to increase its engagement with startups and thought having entrepreneurs come onsite for an accelerator program was a great solution. Through his work with another project, he was familiar with gener8tor’s program and after some discussions, GP decided to partner.

“We believe working closely with startups to aid in developing their businesses can result in significant mutual benefit for all involved,” Driessen says. “Bringing together the new ideas and approaches of startups and the proven go-to-market capabilities at our Neenah R&D center will create a powerful innovation environment.”    

The 1915 Studios program follows GP’s support of Engage Ventures, an Atlanta-based program funded by public and private resources that invests capital and expertise to help startups break through corporate barriers and operate at full speed.

Entrepreneurs working with 1915 Studios will hold onto the rights to their intellectual property, but GP may work with them to see how their ideas could fit into its business, Driessen says. In addition, if what’s developed isn’t a good fit for the manufacturer, he says the entrepreneurs can be introduced to partners or companies along GP’s supply chains if that’s a better option.

“We also benefit by being exposed to the startup’s talent and thinking,” Driessen says.

Located at 1915 Marathon Ave. in Neenah, GP’s Neenah Technical Center is a research and development facility with more than 250 scientists, engineers, technicians and support staff, with papermaking, product development and testing expertise. The center houses pilot lines as well as labs supporting the company’s consumer products businesses.

Several of GP’s innovations throughout the years, including sterile and splinter-free toilet paper, disposable cups and dispensers, got their start at the Neenah Technical Center.

As for how the areas of startup interest were selected, Driessen says they are a good supplement to what GP is already working on. “These are strategic areas of interest,” he says.

The first cohort begins this month and will end in August. “We’re recruiting nationally for this and are getting good feedback,” says Driessen, adding there’s hope that if a startup comes to 1915 Studios, the owners may decide to stay in the area. 

 

How to apply

Startups developing products related to hygiene, Internet of Things and sensing are encouraged to apply for the programming and resources provided by 1915 Studios, including free space, prototyping and additive manufacturing technology.  

Visit gbetastartups.com/1915-studios for application information or to learn more about the accelerator.