Grant applications are now open for Project Connect, a new initiative from WWD and Unilever Prestige, developed to help elevate the next generation of entrepreneurs whose products and services are designed to bridge the division between technology and the human touch. Citing research that shows 50 percent of people reported feeling isolated this year, compared to 23 percent just two years ago, the program aims to support innovations that take a human-centered approach to connecting with consumers in today’s tech-driven market.

WWD serves as the sole media partner for the program, which will leverage the company’s editors, expert content creators, designers and marketing specialists to create and execute the entire program. The WWD team conducted industry research to develop the scope of the program and its participants while collaborating with Unilever to create all of the content used in marketing and promoting the program. WWD’s role includes media placement on its site as well as on other Fairchild Media sites, along with a social media campaign, editorial articles and custom features supporting the program — all aimed at WWD and Fairchild Media’s vast audience of industry leaders, stakeholders and influencers.

“As we look forward to a post-COVID-19 world, we need to pivot and rely on innovative technology more than ever,” said Amanda Smith, President of Fairchild Media, a division of PMC. “There is nothing more exciting for WWD than partnering with Unilever Prestige to power our portfolios with purpose and celebrate trailblazers who are the next generation of business leaders.”

The winner will receive grant funding as well as access to a robust package of resources that include mentorship, opportunities to help scale their business and exposure to new industries and audiences. Interested applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • A future-focused mindset that prioritizes pandemic rebuilding across industries.
  • A business plan that serves to humanize technology for the next generation of consumers and entrepreneurs across all industries including beauty, tech, fashion, CPG, etc.
  • Products or services that demonstrate humanity with technology and virtual communication by associating them with human touch through virtual means.
  • Social impact aligned with efforts that promote an inclusive platform and progressing marketplace values within the business.
  • Industry-wide implications through scalable technology that help to drive consumer adoption of technology solutions and professionals to adapt to a future marketplace.

“Having spent my career raising awareness of future- focused brands, I’m excited to find new and innovative entrepreneurs whose business models push the boundaries of what we’re used to,” said Vasiliki Petrou, Executive Vice President of Unilever Prestige. “Brands with passion and purpose tackle a mission bigger than life, and there’s no escaping that digital experiences have been the future for a long time now. But COVID has really expedited that process, and personally for me, coming from brands where human touch and face-to-face interactions are so vital to the customer experience, it’s felt like there is a missing piece. To truly serve our consumers now and in the future, we need to enrich that space at the intersection of our digital lives and our need for human connection.”

The winner will be chosen by a council of industry experts including Vasiliki; Vicky Tsai, Founder of Tatcha, and Kevin Fried, Director of Retail at Google, to name a few.

Applications are due by April 30. To enter, please click here.