Mind control, bionic prosthetics and AI characters are just some of the things that Disney is funding as part of their accelerator in 2015.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite as synonymous with creativity, imagination and next-gen technology as The Walt Disney Company. And rightfully so. For decades, the company has encouraged kids of all ages to pursue their dreams and bring their wildest ideas to life. Whether it’s serving as a presenting sponsor of the World Maker Faire or revealing new innovations from its research department, the company continues to tap into the burgeoning Maker Movement. Just last year, the Disney Accelerator was also launched, which gives 10 early-stage startups unmatched access and support over a three-month period.
Aside from mentorship from several Disney execs including CEO Bob Iger and guidance from other big names in tech and entertainment, these up-and-coming teams each receive a $120,000 investment. The 13-week program, which is run in collaboration with Techstars, seeks to preserve the legacy of Walt Disney — the epitome of a true Maker and entrepreneur.
The startups from the 2014 Disney Accelerator have already gone on to reach many milestones since completing the program. All of the brands have either raised capital, been acquired or become profitable since completion, while some of the participants have even unveiled products and services in conjunction with The Walt Disney Company.
For example, Disney integrated characters from its hit film Inside Out into ChoreMonster, a chore-assigning app for children, and have paired with robotics company Sphero, another accelerator startup, to build the official BB-8 droid used in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Since teaming up with Disney, ChoreMonster has doubled its user base while Sphero has raised $45 million in funding.
Among those chosen for the class of 2015 are: Imperson, an artificial intelligence platform enabling fans to have conversations with their favorite movie and TV characters; MakieLab, a startup that lets kids bring personalized toys to life through 3D printing; Open Bionics, a robotics organization creating affordable 3D-printed bionic hands for amputees, researchers and Makers; and Emotiv, a bioinformatics company that employs EEG to track mental performance, monitor emotions and control objects with thoughts.
“Last year’s Disney Accelerator exceeded our expectations on many fronts,” said Kevin Mayer, Chief Strategy Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “We are excited to roll up our sleeves again this year and help these cutting-edge startups achieve their goals.”
Want to learn more? Head over to the Disney Accelerator program’s official page here.