Verizon Ventures and R/GA partner to launch a digital media venture studio

Verizon Ventures and R/GA are announcing a new program called the Verizon Media Tech Venture Studio.

Stephen Plumlee, R/GAs global COO and managing partner of R/GA Ventures, explainedthat the interactiveagencysventure studios started out similar to other startup accelerator programs, but theyve expanded to provide access to financial capital, creative capital and client relationship capital. In other words, startups dont just get funding and advice they also work onproducts and partnershipswith R/GAs creative staff and clients.

In this case, the Media Tech Venture Studio is a 14-week program for up to 10 companies, whichwill receive $100,000 in funding each and work out of Verizons new open innovation space in New YorkCity. The companysays its looking for startupsin areas like content creation and personalization, virtual reality and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, content distribution, interactive advertising and e-sports.

The idea is for Verizon to really get out there and see whats going on in the market, said Paul Heitlinger of Verizon Ventures. Whats really compelling for the companieswho participate is, they get to work directly with Verizons business units. They get access to our technologies, our networks, all behind-the-scenes stuff.

At the same time, Heitlinger said participating in the program doesnt mean you have to work exclusively with Verizon.

As for whether these startups are then teed up for additional funding from Verizon Ventures, he said, We wouldnt say no, we wouldnt say yes. If we feel that theres a particular company thatswell-suited or well-aligned with Verizons business, just like any other startup we would invest.

Verizon has been trying to move deeperinto digital media, with initiativeslikeits go90 mobile video app, not to mention its acquisition ofAOL (which owns TechCrunch) and the still in-progress Yahoo deal.

The deadline to applyto the Verizon Media Tech Venture Studio is May 30, with the program starting on July 31.

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