The Walt Disney Company has announced it is accepting applications for the 2020 Disney Accelerator, a program designed to accelerate the growth of innovative companies from around the world. Ten growth-stage startups will be selected for the three-month mentorship program that will connect them with the creativity, imagination and expertise of Disney, including by providing unique access to Disney's leadership team. The program will officially begin in July and will conclude with a Demo Day in October. Applications are due by April 3, 2020.
"We created the Disney Accelerator six years ago to explore the incredible innovation that could occur between The Walt Disney Company and companies working on the forefront of technology," said David Min, Vice President, Corporate Innovation, The Walt Disney Company. "Not only has the Disney Accelerator become the premier and longest-running media and entertainment accelerator in the industry, but the program has also launched a number of products, experiences, and cutting-edge technologies. We look forward to discovering new companies and technologies through this year's program that will continue to position Disney as a leader in today's dynamic media environment."
The 2020 Disney Accelerator is open to growth-stage companies with a vision for making a significant impact on the future of technology and entertainment. The Disney Accelerator provides participating companies with investment capital, access to co-working space at Disney's creative campus in Glendale and unparalleled mentorship and support from top Disney executives. This year, the team is looking to explore specific technologies including: artificial intelligence, augmented reality, e-commerce, data analytics, frontier tech, robotics and more.
Companies that have been part of the Disney Accelerator since its launch in 2014 continue to thrive and many have collaborated with divisions of Disney to bring innovative products and experiences to market:
Epic Games, maker of Unreal Engine, joined the Disney Accelerator in 2017 and has since worked with numerous parts of Disney. Most recently, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and Epic Games developed groundbreaking LED stage production technology for the hit Lucasfilm series on Disney+, "The Mandalorian." Epic also worked closely with Walt Disney Imagineering to leverage Unreal Engine's real-time rendering capabilities to create the interactive experience found on board the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction in Disneyland (CA) and Disney's Hollywood Studios (FL).
Sphero, a company that creates programmable robots and STEAM activities that connect learning and play, was part of the inaugural Disney Accelerator and created numerous robotics toys with Disney, including the BB-8 droid toy, the number one Star Wars toy in 2015.
StatMuse joined the Disney Accelerator in 2014 as a three person company and today is a leader in voice and text-based search for sports stats and information.
Kahoot!, a game-based learning platform, joined the Disney Accelerator in 2017. In 2019, more than 200 million games were played on the Kahoot! platform by 1.2 billion players in 200 countries. Kahoot! is publicly listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange's Merkur Market. (KAHOOT:ME)
"Our participation in and ongoing relationship with the Disney Accelerator has brought creative inspiration and larger business perspective to Kahoot!, contributing to our growth and development," said Eilert Hanoa, CEO, Kahoot! "By combining the strength and reach of our platform with the magic and mentorship of Disney, we've been able to make learning even more awesome. The Disney Accelerator has been key to unlocking many opportunities for us as a company."